Best Before


If ever there was ever a term of recent times that absolutely makes my blood boil it is the title of this post – best before, or its equally nonsensical and totally misleading other incarnation – the sell by date.

How many people today throw away perfectly good food products simply because they see these words on the package, dreamt up by businesses in collusion with the EU and other controlling enterprises to maintain the turnover of stock? Sadly in the western world the answer is in the billions. Landfill sites in practically every western nation are full of unused food products, which prior to being dumped were perfectly serviceable.

Here in the UK from time to time I read about people seriously down on their luck being prosecuted as thieves for raiding the bins of supermarket chains in order to make use of perfectly good food discarded because it has gone beyond its sell by date. Bringing charges against starving homeless people for making use of the food in question boggles the mind.  After all, no one gets arrested when those self same people go to a food bank!

Now we move to a subject which I have had bitter personal experience of – being thrown on the scrap heap, made redundant in my mid fifties due to a breakdown; considered by the business world to be far too expensive to remain in their employment because of my age and experience. In other words, people like myself who had reached their own best before date. I’m happy to say that since finally reaching the legal age of retirement, I’m finally free from the endless financial worry inflicted upon me by tight fisted employers refusing to consider me for anything other than a low paid job, usually labouring on a building site.

My generation, the baby boomers born at the end of World War Two, have got our government seriously worried. So much so that they want to raise the retirement age to seventy, because according to them we cost far too much to maintain. What the ingrates conveniently forget is that we were paying taxes long before they were even a twinkle in their father’s eye.

Retirement is our reward. But judging by my own recent experience fighting with cold hearted bureaucracy in the form of the UK Department of Work and Pensions, to get them to pay me what I was owed in the form of the State Pension, official recognition for a lifetime of paying tax (granted not all of it here in the UK), really hurt them – bless.

What the tossers in the various government departments need to realize is that unlike food products, humans don’t go off until we naturally expire. We merely continue to enrich ourselves as we grow older. While my body may have now slowly but surely broken down, my mind, the thing that controls my every function, act and thought, has never been sharper. I had my first novel published when I was sixty-two. I also write short stories, blog posts like this and articles on a daily basis.

Since I retired earlier this month, I am now free from the incessant and unwarranted meddling in my daily life by the world of governmental bureaucracy. I no longer interest them thank goodness since I passed beyond my own sell by date.

In most non-western countries the older generations are venerated for their experience and knowledge gained during their lifetime. They are listened to and learned from by the younger generation, but not here in the UK.

We of the older generation have much to offer the young, despite what government bureaucracy believes. While we may no longer play any active part in the workplace we still have a lot to offer. As an OAP here in the UK, if you are lucky you will usually be ignored or barely tolerated, or at best considered a nuisance – I think you get my drift here.

That term should actually read – best after, not best before…