On the evening of last Thursday, which was the day certain public sector unions were on strike, I was at a function with a number of friends, and it happens that most of the people I was sitting with were either retired teachers or still are teaching.
All were affected by the dispute over pensions. Incidentally, teachers at independent schools are on the same pension as those in state schools.) Quite a few of the teachers I was talking to were members of one of the unions which was striking on Thursday.
I'm told that the head teacher of the school where many of my friends work sent an email round asked any staff member who felt they needed to strike to come and see him. The ATL representative sent an email offered to go with any such person to see the head - and by one account, also offered to provide an exercise book to go down the back of their trousers.
None of those I spoke to had been on strike but they had very mixed views about the merits of the action. Some pointed out that the problem for pension funds applies to everyone on the public and private sectors alike and that the country simply cannot afford to pretend we can get away without adjusting the terms of pension funds given that people are living significantly longer and without some adjustment the funds will go bust.
Others had not been on strike despite agreeing with the cause which the strikers thought they were supporting, because they considered that the strike itself was irresponsible and would harm the cause.
I had a letter this week from a number of teachers at St Bees school, none of whom took part in this week's strike, but who were very unhappy with the proposed changes to their pensions.
I have the greatest sympathy for everyone in the public or private sectors who is facing a change for the worse in their pension terms, which means just about everyone. I hope that the government will show as much flexibility as can be afforded on this issue. The trouble is, apart from people living longer, that the last government caused huge damage to pension funds through Gordon Brown's idiotic and irresponsible £6 billion a year ACT raid on those funds. They also made unsustainable and unaffordable promises to many people. No government has magic money, and whoever had won the last election would have had to make excruciatingly difficult decisions about pensions.