Ageing: The Secret of Life
Shattering pretty much all the stereotypes about women past a certain age, the ‘Ageing: The Secret of Life’ panel opened with a rather bemused Minna Lindgren and Anne Ostby watching on as Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” began blasting on the speaker, and the lithe and limber Teresa Albor came running in through the audience in a silver sequinned onesie, twisting and gyrating as the audience pulled out smartphones to record her in action. For a few glorious minutes, the rain and the mud and chaos outside of the Vaskar Novera Hall receded into the background, and spirits and eyebrows alike reached for the ceiling.
Moderated by British Brazilian author Yara Roderigues Fowler, the panel focused on the binary view of women as either young and beautiful or old and wise, and how the continuum of the natural ageing process, and that that women of all ages have varied and interesting interests and lives is ignored. “I’m 62, and bloody f-ing proud to be 62!” Teresa Albor declared to hoots of laughter. Minna Lindgren referenced her popular series Lavender Ladies Detective Agency, which revolves around 90 year old detectives in a care home. Norwegian author Anne Ostby talked about her novel Pieces of Happiness where five women in their 60’s go to live in a cocoa farm in Fiji. She honed in on how women were taught to even view their ageing bodies with shame.
The much younger Yara Fowler added some insight on inter-generational differences, the attitudes of millennials towards Baby Boomers, for example, and the gap in understanding between the generations. “If you want to understand your ancestors, skip the mother and go talk to your grandmother!” Anne Ostby piped. “If you want to embarrass your kids, become a performer” added Theresa Albor.
Opening up to a Q&A session, the panellists entertained a lament from an audience member about the Saas-Bahu relations being warped by the influence of Indian serials. The session ended on an even livelier note than its commencement, with all the panellists rocking out to ‘Local Bus’ by Momtaz, and pulling all the elder women from the audience to join them, which included British Caribbean storyteller Jan Blake balancing on her crutches.