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I am just an ordinary adult who isn’t young – and that’s that

20 April, 2017

• I WAS delighted to read Martin Adeney’s article on older people (Few people seem old to themselves, April 6).

I’m 81. The only thing I disagreed with was the bit about Doris Lessing saying older women are invisible.

They needn’t be and I’m sure plenty of them aren’t. They could always try wearing a hat. I’ve been prowling round Hampstead in my trilbies and fedoras for years – people even stop me and ask me about them.

But enough of these frivolities. Just as it says in the article, I have virtually a full-time “career” in heritage and museum work. Two historic houses and the Royal Academy of Music museum keep me nicely occupied. Though I sometimes think if one more visitor, or person, I tell about this says: “How nice to keep your brain active” I will scream.

I’m fluent in three European languages, I always have been, which comes in handy for what I do, and I’m going to go on doing it.

I’m sorry to say I’m starting to shrink away from my contemporaries because they seem to be unable to stop going on about how old they are. They can make you feel very uncomfortable when they express amazement that you are still getting around.

I wondered what would happen when, after over 20 years in my two other workplaces, I was asked if I would like to help in the RAM Museum.

What would the students think? Well, nothing, apparently. In the two-and-a-half years I have been there not one of them, or the staff, has treated me like an old lady. I used to sing on a professional basis, so I know where they are coming from. I hope.

Of course, as soon as I expressed my pleasure at this to other older people, the attitude was that I was mothering young people.

Yes, undergrads start at 18 – but try playing mum to a bunch of hard-working late-20-somethings on the open course, and I don’t think you’d get very far!

I have no family and I would be very much lonelier than I am if I did not do these things.

I entertain, too, and have had to get used to the situation that younger (and I only mean about 10 years younger) people never return my hospitality.

I really don’t look back much at all. I have a tiny income and I’m too busy wondering how I’m going to pay my bills.

As far as I’m concerned I’m just an ordinary adult who isn’t young. And that’s that.
And I know­ it’s rare, but I can thank genetics that I have the brown hair I have always had. And I know an American lady who is over 90, and she has too.

It’s been good to sound off – thanks for reading me.

Pattison Road, NW2


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