The car is the one place I can be guaranteed to listen to the radio. On Thursday I took it for its annual service, picking it up at lunchtime. I am not usually in the car at that time of the day, so lunchtime radio is invariably a novelty.
On this occasion, I caught a discussion with Steve Webb, the Minister of State for Pensions. In the wake of the potential changes in respect of pensions announced by the Chancellor in the Budget, the Minister was explaining how necessary financial advice might be given. Indeed he explained that there is a risk that people generally think, perhaps based on the life span of their parents or grandparents, that they will not live as long as they do. Therefore, and as a preliminary part of the financial advice that will be needed, it is proposed that we shall all have access to a longevity calculator.
As described, it sounded like simplicity itself.
Curiously I googled "death calculator" and lo and behold came up with something very similar to that described. Part of the assessment involved, exactly as described by the Minister, inserting your frame of mind: suicidal, pessimistic, neutral, optimistic. Yes only four choices!
I decided to play safe and as the interviewer had suggested that pessimists might be very careful people who for instance check carefully before crossing a road, I inserted that as my mental outlook.
It was clearly the wrong decision. Coupled with insertion of my BMI, gender and age, the death clock swung into action and immediately calculated not simply the date on which I shall die but also the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds until I get there! It was closer than I would like to think.
Such a device is unlikely to have any effect on my attitude to pensions or spending patterns. It will remind me however, of how transient and fleeting life can be and the need to enjoy every day of that forthcoming retirement.