Monday, 28 May 2007

More about the Zimmers

A great article on the BBC site today about the Zimmers, who I mentioned on this blog a few days ago. They've covered The Who's "My Generation" - even though one of their number did prefer to call it "The Generation Game".

And I'm delighted to read there that Power to the People: The Great Granny Chart Invasion broadcast on Monday 28 May, 2007 at 2100 BST on BBC2. Less delighted to realise that I found this out two hours after the event. Never mind - I'm sure they'll be back...

Friday, 25 May 2007

Meeting the Red Hatters

I joined the Norwich chapter of the Red Hat Society yesterday. A superb bunch of ladies, they made me feel very welcome - especially as I'm likely to be the only "pink hatter" (under 50) among them for the time being! (Anne-Marie, who I'd met earlier on that day and who tagged along, is also a pink hatter - but she has her great celebration come August...)

Here's a sample of their fabulous and celebratory nature. All power to you, ladies; I look forward to growing old disgracefully.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Malcolm & Sue

When I ran (OK, jogged) my first Race for Life a couple of weeks ago, with my personal trainer, Kim, it was her dad Malcolm with his wife Sue who took all the smashing photos of us by following us around the course. They kept popping up all over the route, encouraging and cheering us on, and being ready with the water bottles so we didn't need to carry them!

Malcolm is 74, started running in his 50s, and is staggeringly fit. I asked him when I (puff, puff) finished my first 5k race in 39 minutes, "how long would that have taken you?" He thought about it for a moment, and said "well, I did one the other day over some pretty rough ground, so it was a bit slower than usual... that took me 22 minutes." A quick Google finds Malcolm running some very impressive times, including a 10k in 48:30 - you can find the evidence on the Athletics Data website. Notice that he has a habit of coming in first rather a lot...

Sue is also a runner, and was disappointed that the R4L was fully booked so she couldn't join us - although she'd have been showing us her heels if she had. I was grateful that she could take photos of us instead!

Oh, and they've just started using a computer, too.

Malcolm, Sue - you're a huge inspiration to us all.

Malcolm with Henry the hound

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Late Bloomers

My American friend enjoyed this new blog, and has made a contribution along the lines of Tolstoy's Bicycle: Late Bloomers (75 Remarkable People Who Found Fame Success & Joy in the Second Half of Their Lives). That's on the UK version of Amazon; the USA version also has a preview in their Online Reader.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The oldest surviving Tommy

My husband has a worrying enthusiasm for films and books about wars and death - the amount of information we have on our shelves about Hitler & co. has to be seen to be believed. However, he has just suggested a worthy addition to this list: Henry Allingham.

Henry is the oldest surviving veteran of World War I, and all being well will celebrate his 111th birthday on June 6th. He has recently been in the news for his visit to a school to talk about his experiences: as one student put it, "he's lived in three centuries". Allingham credits "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women — and a good sense of humour" for his longevity.

He'll turn up all over the internet if you search, but here he is to start with:


Thinking about other ways of celebrating behaviour "outside the age box", I remembered this lovely film, a real favourite of mine; gentle, observant and beautifully made. A gang of seniors find themselves meeting up with aliens, and briefly experiencing the elixir of youth from a swimming pool. Bizarre, but completely watchable, and Jessica Tandy, Jack Gilford, Gwen Vernon and many more delightful veterans make this a worthy celebration of life after retirement.

My favourite memory is probably of Ben (Wilford Brimley), after his first swim in the "magic pool", climbing into the shower with his surprised but delighted wife, with the phrase "want some candy, little girl?".

The Red Hat Society

Ever since I first read Jenny Joseph's wonderful poem Warning, I could identify with it:

"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me..."

This idea was taken up in America, and there are now Red Hat Societies all over the world. The rule is that when you reach the fabulous age of fifty, you're entitled to dress in purple with a red hat; until that time, you must keep it muted by wearing a lavender outfit and a pink hat. The groups meet simply to celebrate the joys of getting older.

Visit the Red Hat Society website

(I've just found that there is a Norwich group, and have sent them an email - I'll let you know how I get on...)

Who needs retirement?

Did you notice these wonderful news items a few weeks ago?
If you love what you do, why stop doing it?

Running over eighty

I've published more information about these two ladies on my Rector's Wife Revamp blog, but here are two of my favourite inspirations for fitness, no matter what your age.

Renee Clarke (born 1926) - you'll find an article about her here on the Rosemary Conley website. She's based in Surrey, near where I used to live, and seems still to be taking part in events with her local running club, the Epsom Oddballs.

Jenny Wood Allen (born 1911) - here shown on the BBC website (scroll to the end of the article), but you'll find references to her in many places on the internet. From a quick Google, it appears that Jenny last ran in about 2001; since then, she's walked the London Marathon in 2002, received an MBE in the 2006 New Year Honours List, and took part in the 2006 Great Scottish Walk.

So for those of us in our 40s and 50s, there's very little excuse!

The Zimmers

We have Young@Heart in the USA; we have now The Zimmers in the UK. Through the Silver Surfers Day site, I found this extraordinary mob, who are about to release a single later this month of The Who's My Generation. Brilliant.

The Zimmers on MySpace

and here's the YouTube video of their performance:


I saw this incredible documentary when it was shown on Channel 4 in the autumn of 2006. As one reviewer put it, "I haven't cried this much since Bambi's mum got shot"...

We saw a choir whose ages range from early 70s to early 90s singing Should I stay or should I go and I feel good; we followed them through their rehearsals for a show during which two of their number died; we saw them performing in a local prison; and the immortal performance of Coldplay's Fix You, let by octogenarian Fred Knittle (together with his breathing apparatus, which can be heard during the song) is quite simply the most moving thing I've ever seen.

Incidentally, we've just found out from the Young@Heart website that the documentary has been awarded not one but two awards in the Rose D'Or Festival in Lucerne: Best Art Documentary and the Best of 2007 Special Prize. It certainly deserves every accolade it gets.

Here are a few links:
and finally, here is the YouTube video of Fred Knittle:

(the little lady mouthing the words along with Fred at about the 1'55" point in the video, and standing at the end, is his wife, I understand)

Silver Surfers

One part of my professional career is the training of individuals to use their computers, and particularly the over-50s. I am a trainer in the Digital Unite network, which specialises in helping such people with 1:1 training on their own computers. They are instrumental in the now annual Silver Surfers Day, which celebrates the achievements of those who were born well before the digital age, but who have embraced it with enthusiasm.

The book

This is where this blog began. Tolstoy's Bicycle (by Jeremy Baker, originally published in 1982, now seems to be out of print but plenty of copies available on Amazon) has the subtitle who did what when? and clearly proves that there is no limit to what people can achieve, no matter how young or old they are. Tolstoy first rode a bicycle (which was then a new contraption) when he was 67.

I've met dozens of inspiring people over the years, achieving things that might not be expected "at that age"; my own first 5 km race at the age of 44 is a contribution too; and there are thousands of stories all over the world to inspire us.