Thoughts on retirement
On retirement at Oxford, long-serving senior academics can gain 'emeritus' status, which allows continued access to the Department to work (unpaid!) on topics of ongoing interest. In my case, I have maintained an interest in the state of the art in planetary exploration and climate change, and taken on more outside work for the Government and others (see 'consultancies').
When I was a young Fellow of Jesus College I remember attending the retirement dinner for my colleague Sir John Habbakuk, a man of great wit and wisdom. In his speech he defined 'emeritus', saying it comes of course from the Latin; 'e' mans you're out, and 'meritus' means you deserve it.
In fact, emeritus is a must agreeable status, coming as it does after a life of many commitments and constraints, now free of all (or most) of them. Somewhat strangely, I find it captured by a poem by William Wordsworth written in 1798, which goes as follows:
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression; every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought -- He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten, one to whom
Long patience has such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing, of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect, that the young behold
With envy, what the old man hardly feels.