Seven Decades: A Memoir in Words and Pictures
I’ve been thinking about the process of ageing, prompted by my partner’s recent performance in ‘Ghosts, Toast and the Things Unsaid’. It was a piece of interactive theatre where the ‘audience’ of two, assumed the ‘identity’ of one of two of the play’s characters. The premise of the play involved looking back at the significant moments of one’s life. The photographs below are my way of looking back at the person I was and will become. They are arranged according to the number of decades I’ve spent on the planet: the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s. The last photograph was taken at my 60th birthday party, almost four years ago. I was smiling because it was a wonderful night but also because I knew my grand daughter was due any day. She was born three days later and is the joy of my life.
I still love to dress up, though I do it less often these days. I notice I tilt my head when I’m posing for a photo, and I occasionally look pensive. My mother used to say I was a ‘solemn’ child. Maybe that’s because I was an only child and my mother was … difficult … She had a difficult experience when she was young and I doubt she ever recovered.
If I had to choose a photo and give advice to the girl captured there, I’d choose the high school picture. I’d tell the girl in the photo that being published three times in four years in the High School Year Book, and being a member of the editing team, means she IS a writer and she must never let anyone tell her otherwise. I’d tell her appearances are not important, friends save your life and your sanity, lovers break your heart as often as you break theirs, children survive and even thrive despite the mistakes you make with them, feminism will save humanity but not enough people believe it, and to eat properly and keep active.
I’d also tell her what her father told her; she’s a fighter, she never gives up and rarely gives in and it’s what I like about her. I think it’s what he liked about her too.
I wonder if she’d listen to me?
Oh, and I will tell her that the other day, while we took a break from being dinosaurs and chasing each other up and down the hallway, her grand daughter hugged her and said, ‘I love you Nanny’.