episode four: new diversions and random pursuits


Elegant statue of a woman reading in a 14th century hotel, Bologna, Italy

Many people seem to have a carefully worked out list of activities and preoccupations that they have been longing to pursue in the gloriously tempting spaces opening up post-fulltime work. Developing new or long suppressed talents and passions, such as painting or writing springs to mind, and many may even build a second very satisfying career around such new creative directions. Others want to pursue the dream by learning golf, a new language, a musical instrument…

I have made a little film and started a blog – but I don’t really have a clear ‘wish list’ and I certainly resist the very grating ‘bucket list’ term and its associated mentality. Lately I seem to have expanded my participation in book clubs, a worldwide community phenomenon that appears to be growing exponentially. This topic deserves some attention today in this blogisode.

1. Swinging with pre-retirement book clubbers – the golden age

My first ever book clubbing experience in recent memory started years before I retired. Over a drink one night, I was scooped up by friends into what was predominantly a gay and lesbian book club, with people from across the sexualities spectrum and from a speckled variety of professional backgrounds – for example, several medical practitioners, a marketing academic, a tv journalist, an accountant, a medical professor and a town planner, with others contributing intermittently to the colour and movement over those few years.

We opened with a flourish. Essentially, the ground rules were that the person who hosted the book club each month had to choose the book, provide the venue, do the catering, and lead the discussion. This appears to be a fairly common scenario that I hear about on book club grapevines. Cooking a meal for about 10 – 15 people was pretty high pressure for me (given my rather limited domestic skills and small kitchen), although others appeared to take this challenge effortlessly in their stride. On the plus side, we enjoyed our book clubbing adventures in some amazing venues – for instance, at a couple of very gracious historic mansions in both New Farm and Kangaroo Point, and at the homebase, a glamorous East Brisbane riverside residence.

As the months sped by, things began to unravel organisationally when we all became too busy/too lazy. Sometimes we would hastily decide just to bring along any book we had individually enjoyed reading that month, a process which at least broadened our reading repertoire, as we often swapped books at the end of the evening. Once we agreed to share and discuss our favourite poems with the group. Ever dramatic, the glittering hostess of the poetry reading night, Isabella Short, invited a distinguished guest actor friend, Bille Brown, who read the poems brilliantly of course. (Sadly Bille has since passed away).

On another evening, we decided to have a film club instead. This worked out pretty well as we enjoyed seeing Ang Lee’s film Ice Storm, and discussing this powerful film at a restaurant afterwards. The rainbow book/film club dissipated eventually through natural attrition, particularly when two key members left town, one to pursue his career in Arizona, the other in Sydney. However, I still have fond memories of that moving feast of a book club venture, sharing a mutual love of books with a diverse group of people, and making some friends for life.

In recent times, the film club idea has been revived with a different core group – Marty Manchester, Bella De Lillo and me. This new incarnation is still in its infancy, as we have only seen Her and Gloria so far. Both films have inspired some interesting discussions, so it seems that the future is bright for the 2014 film club, which will hopefully expand soon.

2. More book-clubbing action: dancing to some new literary tunes

Since 2011, as a new Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) member, I have revved up my activities in one of my favourite cultural hubs in Brisbane, attending a range of events, such as book club meetings, lectures by artists and curators, and enjoying Uplate gigs linked to Blockbuster exhibitions.
Regarding my Gallery Members’ Book Club involvement, I find that I like the rather unusual way the books are selected each month to coincide thematically with current exhibitions. Sometimes the connection is a bit of a stretch, although, overall, this imaginative method presents a different, interesting mix of both fiction and non-fiction books to mull over. I also find myself discovering books and authors that I would probably never have encountered otherwise. Once a month (as often as we can) my literary friend Dorothea Sitwell and I engage in a book discussion, which usually eventuates amidst cups of tea, cake and sometimes sandwiches in the Members’ Lounge, often followed by a drink at the bar later.

Some books savoured for the Members’ Book club – The Namesake was my favourite that year.

Some books savoured for the Members’ Book club – The Namesake was my favourite that year.

At times, the discussions are unfortunately hijacked by a self-absorbed member of the group who makes the book and the related exhibition all about her/himself. On the ‘up’ side, I do like the relative anonymity of the public nature of the Gallery book club events, even though we find ourselves sometimes sitting beside people whom we have only just met and know nothing about. At other times, we also realize that we are missing a person who had made some fascinating points at the previous month’s book club meeting, and we hope that particular insightful person will surface again in the future. But, in a way, these unpredictable elements add some spice and mystery to the Gallery book club adventure. By comparison, ‘closed circle’ book clubs restricted to friends and friends-of-friends tend to lack such unexpectedness and diversity, although they do have compensatory comforts. Meanwhile the Gallery club is becoming rather too popular having doubled in size in the last 6 months, and is now broken up into 4 separate groupings.

A friendly lizard looking stunned at the Queensland Art Gallery café after a book discussion.

A friendly lizard looking stunned at the Queensland Art Gallery café after a book discussion.

At about the same time as the Gallery Book Club was becoming embedded in my life, I was spurred on by two particular friends, the irrepressible Seamus Irish and the inimitable Wolfgang Schumacher, to become a member of the grandly titled Edmund Burke Book Club, run by the enthusiastic bookseller, Guy Coaldrake at the Barracks. Once a month, we engaged in quite serious debates about history, politics, economics and other such weighty topics. Sometimes the non-fiction books were fairly heavy-going, and it was quite an achievement to finish reading these tomes each month.

Other choices such as memoirs gave us some light relief, perhaps with the guest author attending, or, alternatively, we gained insights from an invited guest who, for instance, happened to have lived in Zimbabwe at the same time as the author-of-the-month. People in the group came from various backgrounds including retired academics, a former diplomat, teachers, public servants, members of the legal fraternity, an architect, a filmmaker, an hotelier… Inevitably, individuals sometimes held opposing ideological views (e.g. on conspiracy theories) and robust arguments ensued, all grist to the lively Edmund Burke mill.

Sadly, with the shutting down of Coaldrakes Bookstore (a great loss), this book club was disbanded at the end of 2012, although it has subsequently re-formed at a different bookstore. However, for a variety of reasons, I haven’t managed as yet to go along to this reconfigured club. I keep meaning to consult with Seamie and Wolfie about the new club, but we seem to get sidetracked into talking about buying or building a cottage in Provence or the effect of climate change on bees. Somehow the regrettable absence of Guy Coaldrake leaves quite a gaping hole that is hard to fill.

Anecdotally, I hear about other people’s book club experiences around town and beyond. No doubt there are as many stories as there are book clubs. Sometimes it seems that the logistical challenges can be difficult, and tensions arise, according to my dear friend Katie Appleby, especially when members live out of town, and the group works on that monthly scenario of one person choosing the book, providing the venue and doing the catering. Others have managed to sort out the logistical and cooking pressures quite sensibly and pleasantly, by savouring the book, food and atmosphere at a different local restaurant each month. My old friends Elizabeth Forster and Catherine Wordsworth belong to a supportive restaurant-based group that has survived many years of the reciprocal relishing of books and life across the whole spectrum of shared experiences.

On the down side, stories have also surfaced from one friend’s book club about personality clashes writ large, while from another, underground mutterings rather than open warfare tend to rumble away – e.g. about the irrepressible club member who continually hogs the floor and never picks up body language signals. Overall, at least, the love of books and reading usually wins the day.

3. Hobbling along in hobby land: a fine line between pleasure and pain

Beyond reading, certain occupations that could be termed ‘hobbies’ have simply not been on my post-retirement agenda – e.g. learning any kind of ‘craft’, an all-embracing, terrifying category. There are craft activities that totally intimidate me, while others I find almost laughable. I quickly checked on Google and found a huge array just waiting out there for me to indulge in – e.g. gold leafing, decoupage-ing bangles, crafting bird artwork from paint chips, making my own facial scrub…all worthy activities, often exemplary from a sustainability perspective, but not really beckoning me personally.

It is fair to say that I have always shied away from anything that could be seen to fall into a standard hobby category. Whenever I have been asked to fill out the ‘leisure interests’ space on a particular form, the perennial ‘hobbies’ I have been able to come up with are reading books, watching films, and travel.


Travelling as a hobby is the way to go – Portofino, Italy

Like many kids I did collect stamps for a while. Also, from time to time, playing the piano might pop up as a listed hobby, but as that endeavour required many hours of concentrated practice, sadly this lifelong pursuit has fallen by the wayside. Anyhow the word ‘hobby’ somehow diminishes that sense of true love and dedication. Looking guiltily at my beautiful old piano which I was given at the age of 4, I feel a surge of nostalgia deep in my being for the time when I could actually play classical pieces with some flair. Stirred by such memories, I mentally add ‘piano playing’ to the mythical list of ‘lovely-things-to-pursue-now-there-is more-time’, in the vain hope of reigniting that once-loved skill and passion.

Despite a recent popular surge in community knitting and sewing circles, I certainly haven’t rushed out to join, having been scarred for life with failed attempts in those arenas in the dark past. I came an inglorious second last in primary school domestic science classes, particularly in sewing, so I knew early in life that I had no calling whatsoever for the domestic life. Regarding knitting, I had to do therapeutic craft work when I suffered severe head injuries and brain damage after a near-fatal car accident at the age of 18, and one activity involved endlessly knitting a very long scarf. My poor mother would come up to the hospital, unpick my clumsy knitting each day and redo it so that I could start afresh the next day, with some dignity.

It is all very well knowing what you don’t want to be preoccupied with in the phase of life called post-retirement. I seem to have continued in a kind of pleasant haze involved in an array of leisure time commitments rather similar to those I somehow fitted in around fulltime work. Now I tend to fill the days with, for instance, such pursuits as watching films at the cinema and at festivals, dining out, reading novels, bingeing on the latest TV series, engaging in academic and non-academic writing, hanging out with friends, going on short and long trips…Learning a new language should be added to the list but it keeps slipping away for now.

Of course, as mentioned in an earlier blogisode, I have also been regularly engaging in the noble sport of wiffwaff, aka ping pong/table tennis. This ‘hobby’, a delightful pastime, has brought much joy to me, as has dancing unrestrainedly in rather odd but charming places with the same core group.


That exciting pre-match wiffwaff moment

My commitment to film culture is still paramount, in particular relation to the Brisbane International Film Festival and the West End Film Festival, as well as supporting other such treasured events as the Iranian Film Festival Australia each year.


Two glamorous mystery women at the Powerhouse.

Once I decide to restart, and finally, completely, and utterly finish the dreaded doctorate before it finishes me (the odds are 50/50 at present on who will be finished first, me or the thesis), volunteer work in a number of significant organisations pops up as the next possible post-retirement phase close to my heart. I certainly wish to emulate my admirable friends who are working hard, for instance, in reading and writing programs in various schools with Indigenous kids or refugee kids. But meanwhile, back in New Farm…

4. Politics inside and outside the pub

Even though I am not usually a good ‘joiner’, I have at least signed up to be a member of a political party recently, with the aim of rising above apathy and cynicism, working locally for the good of the community, while thinking globally. As a feminist, I have always thought that the unfairly mocked expression ‘the personal is political’ has a strong ring of truth to it, while the reverse also resonates – ‘the political is personal’. Every day I encounter the appalling media coverage of the political debates in Australia, particularly from the dominant Murdoch-run media and all the commercial television networks. This experience certainly personalises the political arena for me, and my response is both visceral and intellectual. I definitely resist being disempowered or disenfranchised by the powers-that-be.


This new personal/political commitment probably also does not fall into one of the conventional ‘hobby’ categories. I am keen to be involved in grassroots politics, hoping somehow to inspire others, especially young people, to re-engage in the political process – a tall order, I know. At present, through my local Party branch, I hope to start by helping organise a ‘politics in the pub’ gig at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The first topic will most probably relate to the recent Queensland ‘Bikie’ laws, at an event where people will participate in a stimulating debate about significant democratic issues regarding the presumption of innocence, and the fundamental constitutional separation of the State and the Judiciary.

On the more general issue of ‘why be involved in politics?’ I want to finish this blogisode by quoting a philosophical piece from the rather marvelous Brain Pickings website .  I certainly want to be both smart and politically committed. Here Brian Eno’s thought-provoking views are expressed:

Music pioneer Brian Eno, a man of strong opinions on art and unconventional approaches to creativity, is concerned that we see politics, a force that impacts our daily lives on nearly every level, as something other people do:
Most of the smart people I know want nothing to do with politics. We avoid it like the plague… Is this because we feel that politics isn’t where anything significant happens? Or because we’re too taken up with what we’re doing, be it Quantum Physics or Statistical Genomics or Generative Music? Or because we’re too polite to get into arguments with people? Or because we just think that things will work out fine if we let them be – that The Invisible Hand or The Technosphere will mysteriously sort them out?

Whatever the reasons for our quiescence, politics is still being done – just not by us. It’s politics that gave us Iraq and Afghanistan and a few hundred thousand casualties. It’s politics that’s bleeding the poorer nations for the debts of their former dictators. It’s politics that allows special interests to run the country. It’s politics that helped the banks wreck the economy. It’s politics that prohibits gay marriage and stem cell research but nurtures Gaza and Guantanamo.
But we don’t do politics. We expect other people to do it for us, and grumble when they get it wrong. We feel that our responsibility stops at the ballot box, if we even get that far. After that we’re as laissez-faire as we can get away with.
What worries me is that while we’re laissez-ing, someone else is faire-ing.



Preamble: Spurred on by my muse Cat and some positive reader feedback, I somehow got the impression that I may have begun to transition from mere blogster to blogstar. I confidently wrote Episode 3 of this seeingmeout blog last week, congratulating myself on what seemed, to me at least, an inspired dream run. This illusion was shattered late on Sunday night, when those carefully crafted precious words vanished forever with the flick of the wrong switch, never to return to my iPad, lost even in the iCloud. So much for hubris and the seemingly bland but deadly function called Document 2.  As I also find the WordPress site a challenge, I am obviously still a babe in the blogosphere woods, stumbling along in a blog-fog. Nevertheless, here are some newly minted words (that hopefully will make it online intact) concerning the memories that often haunt and taunt us from our school days.

1.    School days…or as Chuck Berry sings: “Up in the mornin’ and out to school
, The teacher is teachin’ the golden rule..”

 While University graduates are called alumni, a school-leaver is labelled an ‘Old Girl’ or an ‘Old Boy’ as soon as she or he heads out the gate for the last time. This immediately ageing, perhaps even ageist, tag starts, unconsciously and imperceptibly, to undermine the sense that we have plenty of time in the world to grow and make an impact in the adult world.  Marking the decades since leaving school, Old Girl/Old Boy Reunions are organised by some very keen, well-meaning peers. Invitations to such events come calling with their relentless reminder of the passing of time, bringing a mixed bag of feelings with them. Could it really be 10, 20, 30… years since we left that school? We look in the mirror, wondering anxiously about how we will stand up to inevitable comparisons with our contemporaries, both in the ever-important appearance stakes, and in the high-pressured career/life stakes. How many missed opportunities on life’s journey? Did we choose the more challenging fork in the road to travel? Have our bodies stood the test of time? How did they track me down? Will the dreaded so-and-so be there? Many contradictory emotions and long-forgotten blasts from the past stir and disturb our hearts and minds. Many people press ‘delete’ and move on with their lives, thinking there could be nothing worse than mixing with the old school crowd.

I am definitely not a school reunion junkie, but I have to confess that I may well have confronted these issues, swallowed my pride, and rocked up dutifully to more school reunions than the average person. I attended two Queensland secondary schools, and that means double the possible reunions, and also I have been invited to some class reunions at schools where I taught in the dim past.  Most of these events I have actually quite enjoyed, being a relatively sociable soul. I hate to admit also that at times I have experienced a momentary guilty pleasure, soon suppressed, on hearing that someone who was a complete bitch or snob at school hasn’t exactly had a great life.

Yeronga Primary class…

Members of my primary school class, comprising mostly retirees, are definitely in reunion-overload mode. A Yeronga State School reunion is organised once a year nowadays, because we might not have too many decades left. In some ways, despite the so-called jokes from some unreconstructed males, it is always pleasant to connect and laugh with people to whom, in some significant way, you don’t have to explain yourself, as they have more or less known you since you were about 5 years old.  Members of this clan are certainly engaged in a companionable countdown process of determinedly ‘seeing each other out’.

By contrast, I was rather reluctant to attend my first secondary school reunion after 30 years away from Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School. I had never been happy at the school, although I certainly treasure the great lifelong friendships made there. The sports teacher was sadistic, reveling in humiliating, even terrorising many in our year. We endured a French teacher from hell, and the History teacher went understandably mad in our first year. The Principal was mainly mean and petty, with very thin lips that curled cruelly when she was angry, which tended to be her default setting.  While memories of that era are not always pleasant, at least the reunions have been tolerable and even fun at times, and old friendships have been renewed in very heartening ways.

2. Homeland alert: resisting rule-overload and the secret service

 Reminiscing about the ups and downs of school days is part of the reunion package.  I recall vividly how Grammar girls had to obey many finicky rules such as wearing hats and gloves at all times outside the school grounds; sitting or standing only in the designated front ‘ladies’ section of the bus or tram, and never venturing into the dangerous masculine space at the back. We were also forbidden from loitering in the city without being accompanied by a responsible adult. We were directed to head home as soon as possible every day…Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect any of life’s joys.

The ubiquitous BGGS alumni, the Old Girls, appeared to us to form an elaborate vigilante network. They regularly reported into the mother ship any transgressive behaviours they witnessed involving current girls lurking suspiciously on city streets, chatting to the opposite sex. We would hear in morning assembly that certain rebellious girls had been spotted minus their hats and gloves on public transport, meeting with boys or flaunting the gendered spatial taboo by sitting up the back.

I recall one such spy gesticulating from her car while travelling rather haphazardly beside the Moorooka tram my old friend Pippa Longpocket and I were travelling on. Horror of horrors, she had caught us sitting daringly near the back of the tram, minus gloves and hats (it was a hot windy day), apparently ruining the school’s reputation and tempting nearby males who would naturally not be able to control their sexual urges. Probably also it was evident that we had not sat down in a proper ladylike fashion, carefully pressing our pleated skirts beneath us as all virtuous Grammar girls did.  Obviously God’s fierce Police were constantly on morality alert, and we were expected to be demure God’s Police-in-waiting, resisting at every turn the fall from grace into becoming the only other alternative – Damned Whores (see Anne Summers’ book on gender politics in Oz). It was impossible to carry out strategic counter-reconnaissance and suss out these Old Girls who emerged unexpectedly into our schoolgirl world from across the decades. While they no longer wore a uniform of course, they were united in their dedicated ‘search and destroy’ mission to uphold the honour and reputation of the school at all costs.

When we were about 15, Pippa and I used to try to dodge the strict prefects and the obsessive Old Girl brigade, by secretly meeting our boyfriends from BGS in a bizarre after-school courtship ritual, occurring mainly in lifts and foyers of various buildings around town. One time, lured by rumours of notorious Churchie boys frequenting a dimly lit, basement coffee dive called De Brazil, Pippa and I decided we needed some new excitement and went there in the hope of encountering these mystery bad boys from across the river. They were no-shows that day – apparently they had already been suspended for hanging out in this forbidden zone, daring to talk loudly and pour salt into the sugar bowl and vice versa. Such a scandalous condiment-swapping prank became part of urban mythology.

Later that year, some thrillseekers were suspended for frequenting a coffee shop after school.  Mustering up her over-blown indignation, her bright red lips curling more than usual, her bouffant hair even more spiky and rigid, the headmistress declared imperiously that any girl who had ever been in a coffee shop in school uniform should report to her after assembly and confess immediately. While we felt sorry for the luckless culprits who had been caught red-handed, probably by one of the secret service army of Old Girls, Pippa and I decided that, in the scheme of things, our coffee dive transgression was pretty mild, and we were about to leave the school anyway.

 3. A saga of singlets and showers

Detailed rigid clothing and appearance rituals at private girls’ schools are always enough to drive one into despair, both at the time and in retrospect. The rules extended to the wearing of particular underwear at all times. Leaving the navy bloomers up to your imagination, I will just mention here the white cotton singlet fiasco. A Brisbane Girls’ Grammar girl had to wear a singlet, no matter what the weather, to guard against a wardrobe malfunction such as her blouse riding up in the bus, and someone catching a forbidden glimpse of fresh nubile flesh, ostensibly ripe for the plucking by some pimple-faced youth.


BGGS mates wearing the uniform and sharing an apple; IGGS mates and a little sister on visiting day

At Ipswich Girls’ Grammar, where I boarded for the final 2 years of schooling, the singlet fiasco plunged to unforeseen, even perverse depths – thankfully for only a brief time.  Girls were ordered to wear their singlets under their bras. This was of course illogical and impractical. It appears, however, that the main motivation for this bizarre ruling was that wearing a bra directly against bare flesh might overly stimulate an innocent teenage girl.  One particular teacher would go on singlet patrol, randomly ordering startled girls to strip and show that they had bra and singlet in the correct order on their bodies. If they dared have their bras up against their skin, they had to perform a deeply embarrassing strip in front of this teacher and swap the order around. Another borderline activity by one rule enforcer, the Boarding School Matron, was to hang around the showers, checking on the length of shower time (no more than 3 minutes) and catching girls with wet hair – no hair washing was allowed during the week. On the upside, the 3-minute shower training has actually come in handy in later life, particularly as Queensland often experiences a dire water shortage.

Despite the short showers, the lank hair and the singlet-bra reversal issue (N.B. I didn’t have to endure the strip search – I was always on the alert to refuse and to report the teacher), I was happier in class at IGGS and found the teachers mostly excellent, inspirational and passionate about their subjects. The sports mistress was an encouraging soul who possessed a dry sense of humour, and not a tinge of sadism. The French teacher was a veritable legend and the knowledgeable History teacher was mad about her subject, rather than being simply mad…

4. Rockin’ and rollin’: a few reunion snapshots

Hail, hail rock and roll
, Deliver me from the days of old(Chuck Berry Schooldays)

 Snapshot 1: At our first Yeronga State School reunion in 1988, we sat cramped at children’s desks in our former classroom, responding as our old teacher Miss Thorne called the roll –  a heightened nostalgic and surreal experience.  At the call of each name, the person had to stand and deliver something about her or his life since schooldays. Without really thinking it through, I rose and mentioned a few biographical details career-wise. Then on the personal front, I gave a quick summary of marriage, divorce and beyond, adding the old feminist joke that I ‘forgot to have children’. Afterwards some of my classmates came over and hugged me sympathetically, saying, in effect, ‘Poor Helen, it’s so sad that you forgot to have children’. Shamefacedly, I realized that, while my paltry attempt at esoteric humour may not have clicked with them, these people were the salt of the earth.

Snapshot 2: During one of our more recent primary school reunions, a very shy fellow rose and stated that he had had a major crush on my friend Pippa Longpocket while at school, and his feelings had never waned. His public declaration was greeted with a supportive round of applause. Pippa was gobsmacked; she barely recalled this person, but being a kindly soul she had a warm chat with him afterwards. Needless to say, despite the odd school reunion movie to the contrary, his childhood fantasy was never realised.

Snapshot 3: At one secondary school reunion, an old acquaintance came up and told me she had buried several husbands. I hate to admit that my initial reaction was uncharitable astonishment, rather than much needed sympathy. As I am an avid crime novel reader, I couldn’t help but be very curious about the manner of their deaths, and how her current husband felt about the other three. But for once I was tongue-tied.

Snapshot 4:  I attended another reunion as one of the class teachers from the era, rather than as a former pupil. I was pleased to catch up with many in that year, as they were the first English class I had taken through their final years of schooling. On this particular evening, it was very interesting to observe how the powers-that-be in that school have conveniently rewritten history to suit the establishment’s own purposes by bolstering their current progressive image. In their senior year, the brave, wonderful students I taught there had staged a hunger strike, as the food in the boarding school was basically inedible and well below standard, and earlier complaints had fallen on deaf ears.

The strike triggered a huge moral panic, and a paranoid anger-fuelled hunt for mythical ‘reds under the bed’. Finally the intrepid students held their ground and won through, and the school executive grudgingly changed the menu and the caterers. However, during the formal part of the reunion dinner, the old and the new guard of the school gloated, in smug self-congratulatory mode, about being so liberal-minded and receptive to the need for such a change – a very different version of the truth from what we remembered.

Such entrenched institutions engage actively in selective branding through mythologising and propagandising over time, in the same way as these potent modes operate in our political culture. Firstly, the dominant group fiercely resists; then, when that strategy seems to fail, they appropriate the threatening shiny ideas, glossing over them and wrenching them into the bland mainstream. Thus such forward-thinking ideas tend to be neutralised and manipulated for future counter-advantage, whenever possible. During that reunion evening, I learned a salutary school reunion lesson about power: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

5. Medication blues

There’s Aspirin, Adrenaline & also Aminophylline, Amphetamine, Adenosine, Augmentin & Rifampicin, Amoxicillin, Penicillin, Heparin & Warfarin, & Oestrogen, Progestagen & Canesten & Chloroquine…Adam Kay The Drug Song – see http://www.lyricsfreak.com/a/adam+kay/the+drug+song_10002492.html


As signaled in Episode 2, one burning topic amongst friends in my ageing demographic (and not only at school reunions) has developed quite naturally over the years: what medications are you on? Or spot the symptoms, share the cure. People sympathetically listen to each other’s conditions, comparing notes on aches and pains, on fads and treatments.  We have apparently reached a distinctly resonant minor key movement in the hemi-demi-semi-retirement symphony. Financial management is no longer front and centre. This once seemingly ageless generation, who triumphantly created such age-defiant slogans as “50 is the new 30”, are finding that the core emerging topic, up there with travelling and grandchildren, concerns illness and drugs. As we are seeing each other out into another decade, it is not so difficult to predict what the next hot topic might be…

NOTE: Check out the wonderful Flickchicks website – http://www.flickchicks.com.au Mandy and Margie are very dynamic, talented filmmakers, and you might like to see their inspirational award-winning film on centenarians, The 100+ Club.