"When I am an old woman," says Jenny Joseph, I shall get up to all sorts of tricks. But 50 years on, her famous poem Warning with its wearing of red hats and sitting on the pavement doesn’t seem that outlandish. A D-Day veteran makes a trip to France perfectly competently. Yet the newspapers, in a desire to evoke derring-do wartime language, talk about his "escape" from his nursing home. There are more rockstars over 70 touring than under 30 (I made that one up, it probably just seems like it) yet it still appears the only suitable musical fare for care homes is Vera Lynn.
Our perceptions of, and offers to, older people don’t always seem to keep up with the times. Of course, some older people like Vera Lynn. Me (full disclosure: I got my Senior Railcard over three years ago) I’m more Dylan and Cohen. The "silvers" at Sage Gateshead are into pans, choral, and ukuleles as well. And examples at the Age of Creativity are wider still: Ida’s Mash Upturned a traditional tea dance on its head, "mixing a live jazz band, dancing, comedy, tea and cake with digital projections, performance poetry, open mike spots and theatre performed by artists of all ages."
So two pleas from me this blog. Let’s not assume what older people want: the democratic care home will ask; the adventurous one will try out a tea dance mashup. And whatever the answers, let’s have more of it. Just because, that’s why.