In the Amtrak breakfast car this morning we sat opposite a polite and pleasant older American couple. They introduced themselves as Mack and Billy. They had been to Chicago to see one of their (grown) children and had decided to return to Denver by rail so as to see ‘some of the country’. In addition to the daughter in Chicago, they had twins, a son and a daughter, based in San Francisco and Boston respectively. All of their children were in steady relationships and had had children of their own. Mack , a proud grandfather, had just turned seventy. On hearing my English accent he told me that he was still working – for a British company, based in Hull. He frequently visited Hull, taking direct flights from Denver to Schiphool and then a hopper flight to Hull. It wasn’t that tiring, he told me. Theirs was a quintessentially American life, I first thought. How many Europeans would be happy to work into their seventies or, at such an age, be ready to step onto trans-continental flights every time they wanted to see their grandchildren? But, then, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that Europeans have been quietly becoming more American – in that regard at least. Towards the ends of their lives my own parents, for example, had to travel to the Isle of Skye, Brussels and Prague if they wanted to see their children and their children’s children. Cheap flights have made such travel affordable and developments such as the end of the Cold War, fall of the Iron Curtain, European integration (particularly the Single Market), the Schengen Agreement and programmes such as Erasmus have encouraged Europeans to move around far more (with inevitable consequences in terms of relationships). This point was excellently illustrated by this entry in this year’s edition of the EESC’s annual video clip competition. Working into his seventies was clearly Mack’s personal choice but in Europe, as in America, standard retirement ages are creeping up to 67 and 68.