Thursday, June 28, 2012

'Age cannot wither her..', Nora Ephron and historical icons

I have been reading the tributes to Nora Ephron, the American journalist and screenwriter today, and laughed so much at the quotes from her book detailing her views on aging called “I Feel Bad About My Neck” that I immediately ordered it from my local bookshop.

I am feeling rather sensitive on the aging front since a friend confided that her daughter is about to study the 1980s as part of her Modern History course. Initial reaction was that friend’s non-existent hearing aid must be playing up again – age does that to one presumably, but when I quizzed the Drama Queens it turned out that by some malignant slight of hand, before I even reach the age of 50, I and my generation have metamorphosed into historical icons. The worst is that any claims not to remember the 80s would have to be on grounds of over indulgence in a variety of substances because as yet another shocked survivor of the decade pointed out, we were all old enough to vote during at least part of the 80s.

Close questioning of the Drama Queens reveals it’s not just the history curriculum that is putting the 80s under the spotlight. Apparently DQ2 has done a textiles project entitled “Fashion in the 80s” – an oxymoron if I ever heard one. I reacted rather badly to this announcement – mainly because I thought she said it was about “Fat people in the 80s” which seemed a rather crushing inditement of the effects of bad perms and pixie boots.

Whilst I have been stuck in this aging vortex – the geriatric groundhog day as it were, I have decided chrysanthemums are a very under rated flower, and yes I did have to consult a dictionary on the spelling, chrysanthemum not being a word one comes across very often.

I bought this fabulous bunch 10 days ago – and here they are still blooming beautifully, giving me complete pleasure and looking not a whit a day older than when I first put them in the vase – perhaps I should be adding a “Please God let me age like a white chrysanthemum” to my daily prayers, but then again a more worthy aspiration might be "Please God let me write with a tenth of Nora Ephron's fizz and humour" because if you think about it 'When Harry met Sally' came out in 1989 and people are still laughing about it today, and that rather than an unlined neck is true immortality.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Trapeze Artist?

Over the past month, Sydney has been characterised by intermittent foul weather – in fact I would have to say that in true Commonwealth style we joined in wholeheartedly in the spirit of the UK Jubilee, going so far as to mimic London’s grey skies and torrential downpours.

Lashing rain continued post Jubilee as New South Wales celebrated the Queen’s Birthday weekend, an annual event that just to add confusion I discovered is celebrated on different weekends depending on your whereabouts in Australia , whilst New Zealand ever keen to get things off to a snappy start celebrates it the weekend before Sydney gets into the regal party mood.

I had another of my periodic rowing outings yesterday in a social Ladies four, when fortuitously the sun shone and the harbour sparkled. We row up through moored boats, mansions with gardens cascading down steep hillsides to boat houses and docks, and then continue on down through the wooded inlets of the national park. Absolutely stunning and I long for the day when I am a) fit enough and b) competent enough to have the energy and ability to glance round at the scenery rather than clutching my blade (note use of technical language) in a death grip of fierce concentration.

As a consequence of this morning’s outing which encompassed a frankly unbelievable 15 km, I am tending to my blisters and pondering whether I am going to require the services of a crane to get me in and out of the bath as a crab like stance seemed to have set in.

I rowed in a very social (code for hopeless but fun) eight at university for a couple of terms, and looking back I know it would never have occurred to my 18 year old self that in my mid forties that I would be rowing on Sydney Harbour. Given the way that life twists and turns, and fate sends you down unconsidered paths I do feel great sympathy for careers advisers who have to try and give sensible advice to teenagers at the beginning of their working careers. In fact I am full of admiration for people who know what they want to do at 17 based on rational thought – I add this last remark as I have a nasty suspicion my pursuit of a banking career following university was heavily influenced by reading ‘Banker’ by Dick Francis.

We are now at the stage where the Drama Queens are having to start making choices about subject choices and possible futures. One of the options suggested to give some idea as to potential career paths is to participate in Vocational Testing, I was mildly interested to see what the scientific approach would throw up as a potential future – I was however stunned when I glanced at the list of suggested careers based presumably on Drama Queen no.2’s answers and aptitudes. Given the first three suggested professions listed were Aerialist, Blacksmith and Body Makeup Artist, I began to think perhaps the scientific methodical approach to future working life was suffering from what could be classified as a “Funny Turn” – which coincidentally is becoming an increasingly accurate way of describing my own true profession in life.

Sad to say, my first emotion was envy, once I had checked that Aerialist related to “That daring young [lady} on the flying trapeze” rather than to someone who installs car aerials. How much more exciting to have a potential sequined future dangled tantalisingly in front of you rather than the grey tinged fate of a mundane office I wonder if an “Aerial” Training school would accept a middle aged lady for trapeze training, albeit with pre-blistered hands fresh from rowing to prove her worth and grip.