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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 18-Nov-15 17:20:13

Grey pride

We are delighted to introduce our new regular guest columnist. Judith Holder is the author and producer of the international hit Grumpy Old Women TV series for BBC Two and co-writes (with Jenny Éclair) the stage show spin-offs as well as doing a lot of faffing on with her to do lists.

Judith Holder

Grey Pride

Posted on: Wed 18-Nov-15 17:20:13


Lead photo

Judith Holder

Having spent the last ten years mining a comedy seam about getting older, I think of myself as self appointed head girl of the sisterhood which is women over 50 with a dry white wine and lockable Tupperware habit. But then I was always prone to self importance. I’ve also just done a posh visiting research fellowship at the University of Oxford studying the ageing process which sounds very grand but don’t be too impressed because on a good day it was wonderful, but on a bad day I thought they might have mistaken me for someone else. It’s a massive topic, but the one thing it made me determined to do was to gather support and interest in a movement to help re-launch and reclaim our older age - hence “Grey Pride”.

My studies coincided with me turning 60 which is a stylish way to apply for your first student rail card. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed presenting it at stations. It is not what people expect, and this I suppose is the point. We need to shake up the whole process of getting older. We need to celebrate the plus sides of ageing, and to emphasise that people once they become “old” (whatever that now means ) still feel the same inside as they always did, but just with more bad hair days and a tendency to leave some lipstick on their teeth. We are still the mischievous young people we always were with a zest for life and a sack load of life skills and wisdom to add to it. We don’t want to be labelled up just as needy and lonely and negative, we want the world to recognize us for who we are.

No-one should pretend that being old and frail and lonely is something to celebrate. It isn't.

The trouble with the word old is that it really is just about the most universally negative one in the language and is saturated in negativity and need and despair. This is surely the first thing we need to change. We need to shift attitudes, and to make being properly old a more appealing place to be heading than it currently is. This feels like a reasonable aspiration given that a third of the world’s population is already over 50.

No-one should pretend that being old and frail and lonely is something to celebrate. It isn’t. But we can celebrate the fact that old people whatever their needs are still the astonishing people they always were.

Previous generations looked forward to being elders, being the head of the family, being the person to predict a good potato harvest and being valued for their wisdom. Now we need to go out of our way to champion and celebrate the old.
The solution is not simple. We are not a homogenous lump, and there is a huge mismatch between what the world sees and what we feel inside. But we need to make a start and getting older has never been more interesting or more important. Making old the new rock and roll is going to be challenging, but we need to reclaim our older age.

Maybe a good way to start is by contemplating some of the upsides of being older.

Upside No 1
Being able to spot gormlessness at 100 meters and before suspect in question has even opened their mouth. This is useful in many ways. For example, I can weigh up the best supermarket check out operative with 100% certainty and choose the fastest lane on offer. Often, interestingly my radar will point me to the oldest person on the check out as the one who will know the difference between a mango and a tangerine and who will also be able to trouble shoot problems rather than simply call for the supervisor. Sometimes of course my radar is useful because you positively want to seek out gormlessness in a shop assistant. I'm thinking in particular of when I am "taking back" as in I've gone off it, or if I'm honest when I've already worn it but have gone off it. Then my friends the gormless person in the shop is what you want, not what you want to avoid.

Find out more about Judith by visiting her website here.

By Judith Holder

Twitter: @greyprideuk

Ana Wed 18-Nov-15 18:12:59

'Being able to spot gormlessness at 100 meters...' Would that be gas or electicity meters? grin

ninathenana Wed 18-Nov-15 18:18:18

Very unfortunate sentence, well spotted Ana

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 18:23:42

Look. She's old. Leave 'er alone. hmm

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 18:26:29

"or if I’m honest when I’ve already worn it but have gone off it." !!! shock

No. We don't have the likes of that on here. Sorry darling.

Ana Wed 18-Nov-15 18:28:05

I was shocked at that too, jingl...hmm

loopylou Wed 18-Nov-15 18:28:11

I'm not comfortable with the allusion that shop assistants and checkout assistants are varying levels of gormlessness hmm

Rather insulting to be honest.

Indinana Wed 18-Nov-15 18:30:08

^ We need to shift attitudes, and to make being properly old a more appealing place to be heading than it currently is.^

Well I wish you luck with that hmm

loopylou Wed 18-Nov-15 18:34:38

With her attitude I can't see any chance of that! Talk about disparaging and condescending.....

janeainsworth Wed 18-Nov-15 18:37:37

Well, I'm afraid I was never a 'mischievous young person with a zest for life'.
I was self-conscious, unsure of myself and had never heard of self-esteem. I've no wish to turn the clock back.
I don't mind being in my 60s, in fact I quite like it, but I don't see the need for a movement such as 'Grey Pride'. We will only be 'labelled as needy and lonely and negative' if that's the way we behave.
I don't know why some of our generation seem to think it's all about us.
I'm more concerned about young people who have no job security and can't afford to buy their own home.

loopylou Wed 18-Nov-15 18:45:06

Grey pride sounds like grubby slices of bread to me!
Not quite what OP intended I assume

JamJar1 Wed 18-Nov-15 19:01:04

What a rude regular guest columnist. hmm I worked in retail during my late 20's to early 30's and encountered the odd customer, like Judith Holder, with her sense of superiority and condescending manner.
It made me the polite and patient customer I am today.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 19:05:24

I can't see where she has been rude. She has actually got a very good point. But, I would say to, "Good luck with that"!

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 19:05:53

As Indinana has already said! grin

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 19:06:52

My comments earlier on were meant to be jokey.

Galen Wed 18-Nov-15 19:07:25


jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 19:08:32

And a lot of shop assistants are gormless. They're like trained monkeys, the way they trot out the official line drummed into them at staff training sessions.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 19:08:57

No it's not twaddle. Don't be rude.

grumppa Wed 18-Nov-15 19:09:44

Visiting research fellowships at Oxford obviously aren't what they used to be.

Galen Wed 18-Nov-15 19:13:19

I meant the article, not you

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 19:14:40

I know you did. You can't be rude about her. She's a guest! shock hmm

JamJar1 Wed 18-Nov-15 19:15:29

jbf shop assistants have very little power, if they trot out the official line it's because their managers will make life hell for them, sack them if they don't. It's mostly very long hours for very little pay. Nowadays you can throw in zero hour contracts too.

janeainsworth Wed 18-Nov-15 19:17:45

Have you changed your tune just so it's different from everyone else's jingl?
You are of course entitled to your opinion, but I think your comment comparing shop assistants to trained monkeys is spiteful.

Maggiemaybe Wed 18-Nov-15 19:22:13

Author and producer of international hit...and can't afford to pay for her clothes? confused Or perhaps that's meant to be a joke?

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 18-Nov-15 19:27:39

Where have I changed my tune ja? confused

(the post about taking things back was obviously - I would have thought - a joke.)