Thursday, September 22, 2005

Learning to write

Eleven years ago I went on a weekend residential course called "Starting to Write". This is the effect it had on me:

The fever’s still raging inside my poor head :
acrostics and haikus, a new A to Z ;
some rhymes that are concrete, internal ones too ;
and here a whole renga is strung out to view.

How can I go back to my usual job,
with eyes that look inward and temples that throb?
There’s so much excitement still churning around,
a brand-new direction will have to be found.

Is poetry the answer, to fill up my time ;
or stories or articles, romance or crime?
Perhaps if I work at a journal each day,
I’ll get in the habit - and then make it pay!

And all the bewitchment of starting to write
will not fade away like a dream of the night ;
and I shall say ‘thankyou’ to Wes(ley?) Magee,
who knew how to bring out the writer in me.

But as for a night’s rest, I very much doubt
that ever again I shall sleep the night out!

© Judith Taylor 1994

Monday, September 19, 2005


"….. she did hope that at her age she wasn’t going to fall in love ….. And yet which of us can resist falling in love? Of all the manifold temptations open to humankind it must be the most captivating."
Sally Vickers - Instances of the Number 3

I fell in love a year ago
It was most unexpected
For I am rather old and slow
And he was younger, much, and so
My love it was rejected.

The body fails and beauty dies
But still the heart engages -
It learns to look and see what lies
Behind the face that meets the eyes
And takes no heed of ages.


But as a wise man once said -

Folly and wisdom
Are two sides of the same coin

- and I soon recovered my senses. It was an enlivening but unsettling experience,

brief as it was.


Friday, September 09, 2005


I shall be away on holiday from the 12th to the 17th September, so no more blogs now until I'm back.

Just so you don't miss me, here is the companion photo to the Santa Claus one in my first blog, taken eight years ago.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Growing Old Disgracefully

This is the logo of the organisation which has powered and sustained me for the last nine years. I was recovering from a bout of depression when I first saw a TV programme about this network for older women - sorry chaps, this one’s not for you. I knew at once that it was just what I needed and signed up immediately. The majority of our members are probably 60+, although we always say that you are never too young to start growing old disgracefully. If you follow my link to Growing Old Disgracefully you will be able to get an idea of what the organisation is about, and contact the Membership Secretary if you are interested.

When the Network started in 1998, it was one of the first to make use of the phrase "growing old disgracefully", but by now everybody is using it. Some of the others we should prefer not to be mistaken for. We are not about being disorderly, destructive, offensive, embarrassing or hurtful to anyone, but about being ourselves rather than conforming to any stereotype. If I tell you that the Santa Claus photo in my ‘Coming Out’ blog was inspired by my first G.O.D. get-together, you will know what I mean. I have found fun, friendship, laughter and support in this organisation, and I have also learned, changed and grown as a result of being a member. Here’s a poem I wrote which gives you the feel of it:

My wish for my granddaughter

Were you brought up to be ladylike:
To keep your knees together and your skirts down,
And not to whistle in the school corridors?
"Never lose your dignity, dear" my mother said.

I want my granddaughter to be womanly:
To love, to hold, to nurture and to heal;
To feel with passion and speak what is in her heart;
To dance, and sing, and laugh, and let her hair down.

I want my granddaughter to be Disgraceful!


Saturday, September 03, 2005

A 'Steamie' weekend

I had an absolutely stunning weekend away over the bank holiday, visiting two people whom I had not met previously except on the internet. We all suscribe to an email list known as ‘The Steamie’, and when some of us began wanting to meet each other, I took the plunge and decided to accept their open invitation to visit.

Stephen and Sheila met my train and drove me to their home in Pershore. Before the 20-minute drive was over, Sheila and I were exchanging intimacies. Soon we were all three comfortably at ease, and it seemed impossible that we had only just met. And it should be said that these two were celebrating their first anniversary of being together that weekend, but did not mind sharing that with me.

On the Saturday they took me to the Malvern Hills, a familiar spot from my childhood,
and after driving nearly to the top, they gently nudged and encouraged me the last few hundred yards, so that I could once again see the views on both sides of the range, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

After a meal at The Kettle Sings on Jubilee Drive, at which Sheila and I made pigs of ourselves with meringues, we moved on to the village of Alfrick where I lived as a teenager from 1939 to1956. Here they took pictures of me in front of the house which was my home, and of the church where I was married and where two of my sons were christened, and in other well-remembered spots. [Picture taken by Stephen Bell]

On the Sunday we visited a National Trust property called Snowshill Manor, near Broadway. The sun shone gloriously, and finding myself yet again in the countryside of my memories, and in such congenial company, I became radiant as well! Here too Steve showed me how to use my new digital camera properly, and I shall be putting up some of my first shots on my photo blog, which you can find in my Links.
[Picture taken by Sheila Joynes]

Sheila is a musician who plays in an orchestra and teaches, and in the evenings she entertained us with performances on the cello, the harp and the piano. She also played and sang two beautiful and moving songs which she has written herself, and which brought tears to my eyes.

Monday morning was computer time. They had both taken masses of photographs, and while Sheila organised them on the computer ready for uploading to their fotoblogs - (see Sheila’s here and Steve’s here) - Steve, who is a Marketing & New Media Manager, gave me a lot of help with the technicalities of managing my blog. (You will also find their websites in my links.)

And then reluctantly away to get a train home. Smiles and more tears at having to part, and I left with invitations to come again and a feeling of having received multiple blessings. Over the three days we talked, sang, told good and bad jokes, and rolled about with laughter. We ate delicious meals both at home and away, including a plumb crumble made from Sheila’s own plums. I was cossetted, entertained and generally treated like visiting royalty, and like visiting royalty I let them wait on me hand and foot. But I think they will forgive me. We should all have such friends!

This is Burnie the Hot Bear who sat by my bed in Pershore and watched over me. It is one of the first half dozen pictures taken with my new digital camera!!!

[I'm sorry the links are not in place yet, but I still have to master the technique. Any day now I hope!]


Friday, September 02, 2005

Talking dirty!

How do you suppose a mother feels when her son comes to collect her from a week away with a bunch of women friends, and one of them sticks her head in the car window and says to him: "Did you know your mother likes to talk dirty?" Well, that’s the kind of friends I have, but fortunately I also have sons who can take it.

Well, I have to admit it’s true - occasionally - in the right company - probably female - and if I’m well primed and in the mood! I admit to having written some very rude limericks (under extreme provocation!), and I can enjoy a dirty joke if it’s clever. The point is to be clever, not just dirty.

I also swear when I feel the need. I used to swear as a young woman, but learned to control myself when I got married, as my husband did not like it. Then my boys grew old enough to start bringing back the bad words from school, and gradually I slipped into the old habit. Now, living alone, I am freer than ever to express myself, though I try not to give offence to anyone I may be with.

Mostly, though, because I love language in all its forms, I just like to use its full richness, and am apt to sprinkle my speech and writing with slang, dialect, foreign expressions and swear words, using whatever pops into my head at the time.

But there are things that people do not expect an elderly woman to come out with. I recently dropped in at my village hair salon to make an appointment, and found the girls on their own without the manageress, and with no clients. So I stopped to chat for a moment, then heard myself saying, a propos of some trifling frustration: "It really pisses me off!". There was a stunned silence, then squawks of shocked astonishment, and . . . "Mrs Taylor . . . I never imagined I’d hear you say something like that!" They thought it was a hoot and a good laugh was had by all. Not only that, but since then they have started using my Christian name, which they hadn’t done before!