Yes, we can learn new tricks!! I didn’t think that at age 88 Social Media were my thing but I’ve written nearly 70 posts on Facebook since last August and I regularly Zoom with the children and my Writing Circle.
Last week I started an online course at CityLit – ‘Extended History of Modern Art in 50 Works’ with an excellent young women tutor, Sarah Jaffray. There are 14 of us in the class – 10 women and 4 men. This is an unusual mix. Most Further Education classes I’ve been to have had 2 or 3 men to 25 or even 30 women. I think women generally are more likely to want to take up something new when we retire and we’re not too worried about showing our ignorance of a new subject or ‘losing face.’ Maybe that’s why we’re supposed to live longer than men after retirement.
I wonder when I will go through CityLit’s doors again. As an elderly, vulnerable, person I’ve been self-isolated for 10 weeks. Who know how many more?
I was introduced by the Hellenic bookshop in London to ‘Streamlined Greek‘ by Bob Bass – an excellent workbook for beginners at Classical Greek from age 11 (children at school) to 87 – a retired pathologist like me. Unfortunately the shop didn’t have the essential Answer Book but I found both online and I am enjoying revision while on the Christmas break from my classical Greek class at CityLit.
I’d found our set books – the Oxford ‘Reading Greek’ series – very comprehensive but quite hard going, so Bob Bass’s book is a pleasant relief.
The flap of our letter box rattles. The post has arrived and with it the latest prospectus for Adult Education. I will definitely take Art History and Literature. Perhaps I will enrol for Classical Greek as well, and read the classics in the original.
I already have a small Greek vocabulary from when I was a dental student at St Margaret’s. I learned to say kallimera (good morning) and anoíxte to stóma sas (open your mouth) to patients from the local Greek Cypriot community. I have a larger Greek vocabulary derived from the many medical terms we had to learn. Maybe learning Greek will exercise my mind and grow some new brain cells to replace those I’ve lost over the years.
I emailed all my friends with the good news that my memoir Woman in a White Coat was finally on Kindle and the response has been amazing. Thank you all. I was expecting you to just use the ‘Look Inside’ feature or get a free sample, but you’ve been buying it. I might yet get to be a millionaire!!
Thank you all especially the first and the last of my Writing Circles, all the Creative Writing tutors at the Mary Ward Centre, Morley College and CityLit, the literary agents who wrote encouragingly but didn’t take me on because I’m not a celebrity, my various mentors except the one that discouraged me so much I stopped writing for a year and everyone else who ploughed their way through my many drafts.
I’d always wanted to attend one of Patricia Sweeney’s Film of the Bookcourses at the CityLit but thought they were held in the evening, when I hate going to classes. It dates from when Joshua and I were both working. I left while he was still in bed and we only really saw each other in the evening.
This term I saw that the course was during the day and enrolled before it was over-subscribed – as Patricia’s classes always are!! The films we are studying are Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Bonjour Tristesse and The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Patricia is always an inspiring tutor and the first sessions on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde promise an interesting look at the relationship between the two media – a book being a solo performance while the film is multidisciplinary.
On the member’s tour we crossed the walkway overlooking the Cast Court. I had been in there many times but hadn’t known the name of that gallery nor that all the sculptures were all copies.
The 6 metre tall copy of Michelangelo’s David was presented to Queen Victoria by the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1857 and immediately shipped off to what was then the South Kensington Museum. To protect the sensitivities of lady visitors a 50cm plaster fig leaf was commissioned and suspended over the offending parts from two hooks. In more broad-minded times the fig leaf on this and other statues were removed but the original cover-up is kept in the box affixed to the back of the plinth, just visible on the right.
Extract from my memoir Woman in a White Coat After I retired, I signed up for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the desire. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.
I enjoyed the freedom of doing things that weren’t important, things that weren’t a matter of life and death.
‘It’s wonderful,’ I said to my art teacher. ‘Nothing I do now is critical. If my drawing of the model looks like a human being, great. If not, at least I produced something. If my new cookery dishes taste good or if I can’t eat them and have to throw them out, if I manage to remember whether Rubens came first or Constable, it just doesn’t matter. You can’t imagine the relief and feeling of freedom. My life is no longer constantly punctuated by drama, by death, by irrevocable mistakes – where every word I put in a report is crucial. It would have been devastating if what I said in my report was misinterpreted by the surgeons and the wrong treatment given.’