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Tuesday 9 April 2024

Creatie Crocks Week: Today Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Barbara Gaskell Denvil

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No disrespect to the authors taking part this week - but we're all of 'an advanced age' and several of us have various aches, pains and health issues, but we keep writing and although we might come under the heading 'aging crocks' we've amassed a good bit of writing wisdom and are still very much creative where our author's imagination is concerned.

So, let's meet another Creative Crock...

by Barbara Gaskell Denvil

It’s our own age which governs how we judge the age of others.
My 12 year old grandson thinks that the age of thirty is approaching inevitable senility and will surely bring a crooked back. Yet I remember my mother, who died at the age of ninety-three, speaking somewhat condescendingly regarding a nephew of seventy years, who thought himself in need of a walking stick, so, “Thinks himself decrepit. But he’s just a baby.”

I am seventy-nine, and yes, sorry, I have a walking stick. But although I’m heartily sick of the grumpy dreariness when you can’t walk for hours, the back aches and rheumatic knees hurt, I concentrate on the additional gift of uncaring wisdom.

Naturally I know everything.

There is absolutely no point in fiddling around with mascara, trying to hobble in high heels, tight belts or messy clanking jewellery. Who cares what I look like? If I wasted mornings on hair, make up and hiding wrinkles, then I’d probably end up looking hilarious. Besides, I have severe Macular Degeneration, so what I see in the mirror is not at all the same that other folk see when I walk past.

What I remember is more fun. How the country has changed in those years. People think themselves poor now, and I won’t laugh. It’s a horrid struggle and I sympathise. But when I was a child immediately after WW2 ended, you were lucky to have any choice of food, and the existence of a comfy chair and a radio was considered luxury. The kettle (obligatory necessity in every house) sat for ages on the little gassy flames before it boiled, ready to pour into the family teapot. Post-War Rationing meant one egg a week, a small plain porridge for breakfast was brilliant, you tried to grow your own vegetables if you were lucky enough to have a strip of back garden, and no one except the king had a car.

We walked to school, however many miles away it was. We used a cheap pencil, although my school was kind enough to offer a tiny open tub of ink and a stubby quill pen, the quill tip was always twisted and blunted.

Computers? Don’t faint. Even typewriters were hard to get. Of course no television existed. Certainly no mobile phones and most hard working people had no phone line at all. Forget any electronic devices of any kind. But I must not keep lists of what we did not have. (No washing machines, no fridges, no ----- sorry!) 

But I’m not usually a ‘Poor Me’. What we did have was friendship. Even within cities, the local village existed. Next door neighbours offered pots of tea and even the occasional biscuit. Folk met and gossiped on street corners. Some sport helped the youngsters, although neither the word nor the concept of’ ‘teenagers’ even breathed.

There were children and there were adults, and that was that, although even seven-year-olds often had help with housework added to their list of chores.
But me complaining is definite evidence of getting old. We tell everyone else  to stop moaning as life is absolute luxury compared to how we remember. Only those over seventy are permitted to moan. It can make a great conversation to share with some other ancient friends, especially if there’s one younger couple present. You can  quickly make them feel entirely spoiled as the rest of us wallow in what we suffered in the past. 

Indeed, the ‘well, what I had to put up with back then’ – can also include the pleasure. Evenings with radio or chatter could be cheap and cosy. Much more fun than sitting in a silent row watching boring TV, and wishing you could remember what your name was.

Perhaps not a sign of wisdom after all, but you might also be able to reel off all the books you’ve read over the years: 'Yes, Dickens was considered very modern back then. I read all his stories. I suppose you’ve only seen the films.?’ And of course, you sniff loudly when saying that last sentence. 

Unfortunately it’s often when we stagger up to bed once the evening has only just started, being already exhausted, and wishing we lived in a bungalow, that we can really feel sorry for ourselves.

‘See that poor little old lady trudging down the street. I bet she’s in her seventies. Someone should look after her or put her in a home. I wonder if she knows how to turn on the electric light.’

The condescension towards the elderly has changed considerably over the years and centuries back, it was the elderly who were admired. The life expectancy was invariably shorter, although some always managed to exceed the shorter predictions. But the elderly of those times were treated with respect. They were asked advice and all the difficult questions, and were admired for their knowledge.

Yes, it changed. Try getting a job over the age of fifty five, unless you claim to be a politician. We are told to admire aged politicians even when they are obviously idiots. But the rest of us? Even on the telephone to the bank or the computer advisor, tell them your true date of birth when asked, and you will immediately be talked to as a backward three year old. You immediately feel like a broken little twit who can’t even understand the word technology, let alone the mechanics of it.

So I talk about old age bringing wisdom, while the average man and woman think old age brings total pathetic idiocy. Perhaps there’s a bit of truth in both, but some of the greatest geniuses of our past have continued producing great works of art and intellect into their nineties. 

Michelangelo lived until the age of eighty-eight. Hippocrates was in his eighties. Alexander Fleming died in his seventies, as did Einstein, Graham Bell, Stephen Hawking, Confucius, Mark Twain, Darwin, Pasteur, Jules Verne, Gandhi and H.G. Wells. Whereas Max Planck was almost ninety. But sorry, that’s another list that could get boring.

In other words, there is absolutely no way of judging anyone by their age, even by staring at wrinkles or dragging them off to hospital for a hip replacement. There are those who are lovable geniuses at approaching one-hundred years, whereas there are plenty of younger men (they're mostly men) - from the past and present - who, frankly, should have been drowned at birth. (Mentioning no names - fill them in for yourself!)

Health can make all the difference, and sadly, although (even more sadly) the young can be attacked by the most appalling diseases, it is the older mortals who are more likely to suffer those illnesses which leave us staggering, limping and bent, deaf, bleary eyed, and enduring important hospital tests which then take ten months to materialize, during which time us poor old dears get worse and worse, haven’t the strength to get out of bed, and so miss the appointment anyway. 

 All that said (and got off my chest) I’m still writing cheerfully at almost eighty and nearly blind, but I have yet to create my masterpiece bestseller. I think I’ll be about eighty-eight for that one, so I'm OK for a bit...


About Barbara

Yes indeed, the sin of growing old.  Now at seventy-nine, I cannot stop writing although I started while very young, all by hand since I didn’t have a typewriter. 

A good many years later, I was published by Simon & Schuster, but when self-publishing became so popular, I decided to take advantage. And here I am, all my books available on Amazon, in all countries. 

My early passion for the Shakespeare version, The Tragedy of Richard III, which I saw on film at age nine, fascinated and gripped me. Such a cruel monster, and a king at that. But a couple of years of research on the subject made a difference. Plain common sense and the few available facts made it obvious that Richard III had been no monster at all, but had later suffered from the lies and propaganda publicised by the Tudor usurper Henry VII. So lo and behold – yes, my books soon set themselves during the English late medieval age and I adored discovering more and more concerning that amazing period. I lived in London at the time, and many relics useful for research  remain there still.

I have written a children’s fantasy adventure series (Bannister’s Muster SnapBannister's Muster, Book 1 (Audio Download): Barbara Gaskell Denvil, Mark Topping, Storytec: Books) which I loved writing – and a few others off genre – such as Whodunnits – and fantasy. But most of my work follows the usual trail – Medieval Mystery/ Romance adventures.

Born in the Cotswolds, I spent twenty-three years in Australia and sailed Europe  for another sixteen, but now I'm settled back in England, an aged widow with one son and three daughters. 

all Barbara's books can be found on her Amazon author pages:

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