Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 7°C


Martin Newell’s Joy of Essex: Rock’n’roll rebel on a one-way trip to hell is set to be an OAP

PUBLISHED: 09:47 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:47 24 November 2017

Martin Newell. Picture: HILLARY LAYZELL

Martin Newell. Picture: HILLARY LAYZELL


The letter arrived last week. It was from the Department of Work & Pensions. It announced that in just under four months I will be entitled to claim my pension, writes Martin Newell.

I can scarcely believe this time has already come around. Born early March 1953, I scraped in just before the bar came down. As new rulings come into effect, friends of mine only a few weeks younger than me will have to wait slightly longer for their pensions.

Like my grandfather and my father before me, I will claim my pension shortly after my 65th birthday. Amazingly, for someone who has led an “interesting” sort of life, I’ve qualified for the full amount. When I spoke by telephone to a very helpful man at the Work & Pensions Dept, he reminded me exactly how long it is that I’ve been a working lad.

I began work on 6th January 1969, aged 15 years and 10 months. I became self-employed in 1986, shortly after my 33rd birthday. This means, discounting illness, short sojourns abroad and a few periods when I made so little money I didn’t even need to pay my stamp, that I’ve clocked up almost 45 years of taxed employment.

When I was growing up, it was always my mum in charge of the household finances. Ask my dad anything about money and he’d say from behind his newspaper, “Don’t ask me. I get money. I spend it. Your mother does that stuff.” Of their three boys, I was the one who took most notice of my mother’s rudimentary lessons in personal finance for blockhead sons.

As a rock star-in-waiting, therefore, while working as a part-time kitchen porter, I frequently notched up sufficient hours to qualify for my weekly NI stamp.

Much later, upon becoming a self-employed megastar (and part-time gardener) I continued doing as my mum had advised. I went to the Post Office and bought little stamps to stick on a card. These were my Class 2 National insurance contributions. She drummed into me how important it was that I paid them. It would ensure that I got my full pension when I was very old.

Now, in 1974, when I was a make-up-caked rock singer, this time seemed an awfully long way off. After all, once I became famous I would have accountants to take care of such nonsense, wouldn’t I? Nonetheless, blasé as I may have seemed at the time, I took stock of what she said. I quietly kept rough records of my wealth (or lack of it). I also put bits and pieces away in a Post Office account. I called it my “Bust and Eviction money”. In the 1970s it usually amounted to about 40 quid: sufficient to pay a week’s rent on a room, or stand police bail on my own recognizance, should I fall foul of the law. In neither event did I ever need it. But it was always there. I also kept my stamps, mostly, up to date. So, for a rock’n’roll rebel on a one-way ticket to hell, underneath it all I did a pretty good impression of a speccy mummy’s boy in a beige cardy.

The result of this quiet discipline, as the Work & Pensions man now told me, is that over 44 full years of NI contributions have accrued. Next, he asked me a few questions pertaining to my employers, prior to 1986. Did I remember a Mr Adlestrop*? he asked. “Oh yes,” I said. “He was the owner of the last-ever restaurant where I washed up (1986).” My inquisitor chuckled at the end of the phone. “And before that?” I answered “Mr Candleford* for five years. And before that it was Mr and Mrs Lark-Rise*.” The recollections of my former employers came tumbling down through the decades. They went all the way back to GPO Telegrams, Farringdon Road, London, January 1969. The Work & Pensions chap stopped me. He knew I was telling the truth. I realised that, anyway, he had my entire working life – locations, dates and pay packets – laid out in front of him like an exploded diagram. There it was, in all its glory: my chequered, not particularly well-paid, career.

And how has my country rewarded me? Well, it’s pretty much let me carry on as I wished. Allowed me to behave as stupidly as I wanted to – within reason. Then, it looked after me whenever I was ill. It’s given a few of my less-motivated friends subsistence money when they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, work. My country has never questioned my political beliefs, or sent agents to break down my door during the night. Now, as I reach 65 and, frankly, feel a bit achey some mornings, it notifies me it’s about to give me a pension. Not too shoddy, is it?

*Names of former employers changed, because I liked them.

Motorists are being warned of delays following a two vehicle collision on a major Suffolk road.

Commuters travelling through Ipswich are being warned of delays after a fault on the London-bound line.

Many high street businesses have struggled in recent years, with major chains such as Woolworths and Toys ‘R’ Us disappearing from town centres since the 2008 financial crash, along with many independent traders.

Temperatures have dropped below 0C for the first time this season, but what does the rest of the week hold for Suffolk and north Essex?

An Indian restaurant in Suffolk has been short-listed for an award honouring the best chefs in the industry.

With the hours counting down to the 2018 West Suffolk Sports Awards the sponsors for the individual categories have been announced.

A special project held during the summer holidays has been hailed as an inspirational success.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24