End of the golden weather

Cicadas thrust their consonant-stealing calls into the air, cramming it up to the tops of trees. I try not to listen too hard, it’s maddening, there’s no space for thought between all those fragments of sound, layered endlessly and endlessly and endlessly.

The sun is there. It’s hot still if I let its gaze fall on me, but I’m not where it can see me, and the air is pleasant like the sea I swam in the day before yesterday; neither bath-water warm and cloying, or too cold, the chill that hooks little claws into the skin after I’m wet. It snicked my breath in a half hearted gasp before I went in (the sea the day before yesterday), but I had decided, and when I was in, I could have stayed in, leaning back and watching the water greenly distort the shape of my legs floating out in front of me (good legs; they take me places). I love the feeling of it on the soles of my feet. Especially that, because the beaches here are mostly broken shell that resist human weight, jabbing and stabbing upward, and usually I wear rubber-bottomed beach shoes, indiscriminate barriers between my soft feet and the outside world. But at the long, pale curve of beach where we were, the sea has ground the shells finer than elsewhere, or deposited sand to bury the shells, and there is less to offend the feet. So I made myself light, and then the sea took me up, no more significant than another bit of flotsam. – The sea’s secret, whispered in the waves that only creep on the sand: even you, o man, cannot bend me. We sigh with it, an outgoing breath as the body relinquishes its taut core; we have met with the unconquerable.

It’s been a long and hot summer. I loved and hated it. I love (love) always knowing the sun will be there. Maybe it’s my god, secretly, and I am a heretic against my winter birth. The sun makes everything alright, always, likes hugs in childhood it makes me feel safe. When I was a child I didn’t always feel safe, but the sun almost always was shining. Now it unsettles me when it disappears for weeks. I cannot rely on it in this place, and I long to be where it can be depended on again. So I loved this summer. Even the hate I said I felt wasn’t really hate, only a protest of the body labouring in the unblinking heat, shrinking into shrinking shade.

The cicadas are summer’s die-hards. Into summer they are born, and they resist the death of it. Raucous, inconsiderately consuming life while it’s theirs, I will sigh when their time is up, because summer’s time will be up too. Is up already, the calendar dictates, and the season already bends to it; this morning there was fog on the glass.  But the cicadas and the sun and I conspire. Better know there’s life in her yet.

We’ve lost something – it’s called perspective

My husband sent me this link today – it’s a photograph taken of the Milky Way in the southern hemisphere skies, and it’s incredible. It got me thinking – this is something that can be seen with the naked eye, but isn’t usually because of light pollution. It’s awesome, it’s massive, it puts things in perspective. Is it any wonder our ancestors, who for tens of thousands of years would have seen this sight every time they looked at the night sky, were spiritually aware – look what they saw every night. Something bigger than themselves. And it’s no wonder we think we’re gods striding the earth – pretty much all we see is what we’ve made. It’s hard to comprehend the impact we’ve had on how we see our world. As we’ve seen less of the awesome view above us, so our vision has shrunk, until all it seems to encompass is our navels.

Evicting Mrs Pauley

Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View
Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all.

They’re sending Mrs Pauley away. The police is there, with Mr Johns, dressed in his suit and tie like it’s a wedding. He’s the landlord. He owns a lot of the houses on this road, like ours too. So I know him. I know what he’s like when rent is late. He’s there on the step next day, no waiting, frown on and hand out. It’s not like the people here wants to cheat him, but mostly they works at the factory, and sometimes there’s trouble, and it closed for a few days, and then there’s no pay. And then rent is late. Like Mrs Pauley’s.

But Mrs Pauley, I don’t think she gonna be able to pay rent ever again. Mr Pauley, he was the one who worked at the factory, and he’s dead. Died from a heart attack three months back, just collapsed there at his machine. He’s just lucky he never fell into it, that’s all. That would have been a worse way to go than he did. And a worse corpse for his wife to bury. When I grow, I want to get out of this town; I don’t want to work in that place. There’s too many accidents, and one way I don’t want to die is in a machine, or later on, all mangled and crying out for the end.

But anyway, Mr Pauley went an easier way. It’s his wife it’s gonna drag on for. I don’t know where they’re sending her, for sending her is what it is. She don’t want to leave. She been in that house across the way from us with her family all my life, and much, much longer. All her boys was born there in that house and I hardly remember the older ones. Steve, the youngest, he only left last year for the city. He got away; all her boys did. I think she made sure they did, though it made her cry when they left. She can’t go to Steve; he don’t have a place of his own yet, she says. She says Robert’s wife doesn’t want her with them, only because there’s no room or money with all their own little ones too. Nobody can blame them, neither does Mrs Pauley. I guess she’ll go to one of the others, but she hasn’t heard from any of them yet.

Mrs Pauley is crying now as she brings her brown suitcase out to the car (black like the hearse that took her husband) that’s waiting to send her away; the tears run silent down her face and drop in big drops onto her chest. Her face is puffy and pink in the wrong places; no more cheerful smiles like she used to have on, when her kitchen smelled like a bakery and she’d have a biscuit for good kids who done her some favour, back when Mr Pauley would come whistling back from factory. I think I’ll always remember those biscuits of hers, better than me own mum’s, though I’ll never say. After Mr Pauley died, she stopped smiling, but she had no time for tears then. Then she had to work real hard, baking and baking, and trying to sell to the markets where they sells to the people who got money for treats. I guess baking makes a person smile less when you got to do so much of it. That and worry over rent. And after all the baking and selling and worrying, it still weren’t enough to pay Mr Johns. I don’t know why he need the money so bad, seems like he got enough, with his new clothes and his big car, shinier than the police one. He look like he got enough to eat too, and more than enough.

But Mrs Pauley been crying probably a week straight, since Mr Johns said she gotta go. Our neighbours is standing on their stoops and in the street, watching. They don’t say nothing, even the little ones like my sister Ginny, leaning into my folded legs; we all know there’s nothing to say. The police is there, and Mrs Pauley hasn’t paid her rent. It ain’t fair, and we all knows it, but we got no voice in this world. Voices are for people like Mr Johns, who owns their own places, and other people’s too. So we just watch. And Mrs Pauley cries, but she don’t say nothing either.


Lost, Found… Discarded, Part 3/3

I’ve lived here for many years, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how long any more – time isn’t the same once you’re dead. I don’t completely remember how I even came to be here, I just feel a connection with the place, so I stay. The family who live here, they don’t know I also do. Probably just as well, they’d think it was spooky to have a silent, unseen watcher amongst them. So it’s best they don’t know, although the boy caught a glimpse of me once; a mistake on my behalf. I hoped they would think he had imagined it, the way children do…they seemed to have forgotten that incident anyway.

I don’t want to worry them. It’s not as creepy as it may sound, hanging around them like this, it’s only that I’m lonely. I enjoy being around the living, being near the warmth of their everyday. I vaguely recall the emotions they seem to feel so sharply. I suppose you could say it makes me feel more alive, being near the force of them.

It’s winter now, and there’s a fire in the grate. The woman is sitting before it, looking into the flames. She has a name, but it never stays in my mind. Names….they don’t mean too much to me now either. I think they mean something when the lives of the people who carry them have a continuity to you. To me, though, the existence of individuals drifts in and out of my consciousness, much as they drift in and out of rooms.

The fire would be hot on her face, she is sitting so near. I can’t feel its heat, but I still watch the writhing flames. They appear more alive than me, but it’s an illusion born of movement only. How ironic. Now, though, they’re eating letters the woman is feeding them. This is curious. I remember letters. Usually they are kept if important, and discarded if not. To burn one is symbolic, the giving of a memory, or a promise, to the flame as if it were a funeral pyre. The woman opens a letter and reads it, while others burn. I am interested enough now to wonder what she is thinking. There was a man who lived here once also. I don’t remember when I last saw him, but he was with her when they first came here. There was emotion like a tumult in those days. It blew like a wind through the rooms of this house. Oh yes, I felt almost alive then. But not happy…

She crumples the last letter, the one she has read, and she puts it into the mouth of the fire without another pause, and we watch it burn.


Legitimate Fears & Phobophobia

Fear. There’s a topic for you. I know a bit about it myself. Most of us will at some point. Life is a dangerous undertaking, if you’ll excuse the pun in advance. You can tell by the fact that none of us get out alive. Ha.

People say there’s nothing to fear but fear itself, but I’ve always thought the fear of fear was a perfectly legitimate fear. Apparently other people think so too, because it has its own phobia – phobophobia.

There are all kinds of ‘legitimate’ fears – the fear of violence, the fear of bunjee jumping….the fear of clowns…..but sometimes a person can be anxious about some incredibly irregular shit too. Like catching buses, phoning strangers, and Dutch people. Ok I made that last one up. But I’ve had my fair share of being scared, both legitimately and illogically. It never stopped me. I rode long-haul buses, and my first job was cold-calling complete strangers for market research. It was the worst job ever. I must have lasted a month. Though I stopped short of bunjee jumping, I have done abseiling, and caving, and abseiling while in a cave. I once volunteered to help fundraise for a national well-child charity, which involved calling and asking for donations from organisations. I don’t think I did the charity any favours; I was epically crap at it. But I did it to push through the jolly jitters… It didn’t work. So much for exposure therapy.

I’m not scared any more. I think eventually my adrenal system just went, meh, whatever. Or maybe it’s because I got pissed off with being scared. Doesn’t matter, the net effect is, I’m no longer easily scared, and that’s a powerful position to be in – more so I think than if I’d never been afraid, because I know what fear is and can stare the bastard down.




Lost & Found, Part 2/3

{Writing 101, Day 13}

A week or so ago, I wrote about the loss of a marriage. There were black dogs and big sticks and everything. Great story.

But this post is not about loss and gloom, no. It’s about what I found when I was finally brave enough to stand alone. It took me a very long time to gather the courage to step out on my own. One of the (many) things which mobilised me in the end was that I was losing myself, becoming someone I didn’t like and didn’t want to be, someone angry and defensive. My own family became so used to me being prickly that my brother once gave me a cactus as a birthday gift. But I remembered, even if they didn’t, that I hadn’t always been like that.

Saving myself was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot of things that scared me. So I gave my husband the freedom he clearly coveted. But I had two young children, and our future was a blank.

Humphrey Bogart

All that.

I wasn’t sure I wanted another relationship. Ever. The idea of being just me and the kids and a whole lot of books held a lot of appeal. But even though I wasn’t looking, I did meet someone. I could wax all soppy about him, but suffice it to say he’s all that.

He really is. And who am I to say no to all of that?

He’s had to have a lot of patience while I unwound, but he’s that kind of person. And he believes in me. He’s the reason I have the confidence to put my thoughts and writing up to public scrutiny, and why my children are psychologically healthy and grounded. For a lot of reasons, he’s my hero.

I once made a mosaic heart, with a pattern built from pieces of china. It’s a fitting metaphor of our life together – we’ve built a family out of the broken bits of our previous lives, but it’s not just a Frankenstein monster of make-do – it’s a piece of art.


I had a home in Africa

Writing 101: Where you lived when you were twelve

I turned 12 in a country a world away from where I grew up. My family had been spending a sabbatical year in the US, New England mostly. It had been a year of travel and immense and varied landscapes, of being popular at school for the first time (an experience the reality of which never truly sunk in enough to be enjoyed) on account of being “foreign”, and having an “exotic” accent, and eating with both a knife and fork.

In Connecticut we’d lived in a house with a lake in the back garden, a wooden house, with a fireplace that actually worked. There was a real forest over the road, and in winter there was snow and ice, and in autumn, trees which turned brilliant colours and dropped their leaves, changing the landscape entirely. It was utterly different from Africa. The year our family spent in the US for years afterwards delineated our lives into things that happened either before or after.

When we returned to Africa a few months after my twelfth birthday, we returned to the house where I had been born. I’d continue to live there until I left to be married.

It was a beautiful house, really, thinking back – it had leaded light windows, high ceilings and solid walls, pitched rooves and a bricked exterior grown over with a small-leafed creeper. It was double-storeyed, with the bedrooms up a turning flight of stairs that had, like the rest of the house, parquet wooden floors with loose parts which rattled in sequence a few minutes after someone had walked over them. It wasn’t eery, though; the house was too full of noise and family. Ghosts would have been disgruntled by the lack of attention and left for more hauntable pastures.

My mother always said the house was too small for us, though. I suppose she meant there were too few bedrooms, since there were 6 of us and three bedrooms. It didn’t seem small to me, and in any case, I loved that house growing up just for being what it was; the place we’d always lived.

Being the only girl child, I had the privilege of being the only one with a bedroom to myself. I hated it. My brothers and I, when we’d shared a room in our younger years, had spent many whispered hours after lights-out playing games with torchlight on the ceilings, and besides which, I didn’t care to be left alone with the anxiety. I got used to it eventually, though. It was a tiny room, but it had the best view in the house.

We were situated on a ridgeline, and the back of the house on the top floor, where only the bathroom and my bedroom were, looked out across an undeveloped landscape of valleys and hills. Later on, squatter settlements sprung up there in the bush, and the regular calls of the muezzins drifting over from the mosques were interspersed with the sound of automatic gunfire stuttering up from the valley. But before that, I’d look out from my window, especially on moonlit nights (because the moon also laid claim to that valley) and think of Mowgli and his jungle.

It wasn’t that far-fetched a fantasy. As youngsters it was drummed  into us to look out for mambas and boomslangs and black widow spiders. I remember one time a king cobra was discovered in our hedge by a very jumpy gardener. Gangs of vervet monkeys regularly raided our suburban gardens for fruit – one bite of each before it was dropped to the ground; homeowners hated the buggers. Once, I attempted to see off a monkey in the avocado tree with a shooing and (ineffectual) waving of the arms. The cheeky blighter, affronted, came chattering angrily down the branch towards me, her reprimand more persuasive than mine, because I went scuttling back into the kitchen and shut the door.

There was a night when a man was killed outside the gates of that house. I heard the shot, a clap which made me jump, but I couldn’t place the sound, so I went on with my business and would have forgotten about it, except that the adults hastened out as the sirens came, frowning and looking grim. I followed them, pulled by a horrified curiousity, expecting to be scolded and sent back inside by my mother. At first, she, distracted, didn’t notice me padding alongside her in the dark, but when she did I received the anticipated flea in my ear and slunk back in, secretly relieved.

There was another time, years later, when I was alone in the big house with its iron bars on every downstairs window, when I spied out of the window a squad of policemen armed with automatic weapons advancing through the garden. I was happy to see them, actually. I’d had a man knock on the door ostensibly looking for work, and hadn’t seen him leave the property though I’d been watching, so I was panicking slightly, as I’d been trained. Turned out, a neighbour had been nosy enough to see the stranger arrive and not leave, and suspicious enough to call an emergency. Life was steeped in bloody horror stories in those days of violence and paranoia. We kept living like strangers and conquerors in the land, locked up behind walls and burglar guards against the barbarian hordes. Bravado isn’t lack of fear. I guess that’s why you need a squad of armed men to deal with a lone intruder. That incident was pretty much a non-event, though. No sign of the man was found, and the sergeant looked either disappointed or annoyed to have been called out for nothing, I wasn’t sure which.

When I left that house in the autumn of ’94 to begin a dysfunctional family life of my own, it was also in the throes of our international move. Within 6 months, the family had relocated across the world to New Zealand. In the commotion of immigration the sadness of not only leaving home but saying goodbye to it forever, barely registered. In the years since, StreetView has allowed me to walk down those familiar roads again, even though I’ve never been back. The technological magic of the warlock Google. The property has changed now from a family home to something more fortress-like. There’s a sense of disconnect, the distortion of a memory – but it’s an acceptable loss. Life goes on. But there’s no house that will ever stand in the gap left by a childhood home. Isn’t that just how things are?




David was annoyed. He was having to work hard lately. Sarah had been a bit off. Last week they’d moved in together, into a nice flat beside the park; she had been hesitant, wanting a bit more time to “think about it”, but he’d brushed aside her reluctance. She’d been banging on about meetings of minds and whether theirs did – god, seriously? Why did some people insist on playing those games? She suited him, and he looked after her; what more did she want, silly cow? Why not just cut the pretenses and sort things out so that they could get on with life? Once she was busy with kids she’d have no time for gabbling on about “empathy” and “rapport”, and he could settle down, relax.

But now here she was, moping along beside him as they walked. He grabbed her hand, and grinned at her, forcing her to look at him and return the smile. He disliked having to make the extra effort, but he kept his frown to himself.

A girl walking her dog in the opposite direction caught his eye. A half-smile played over her lipstick reddened lips as she passed, tucking her hair behind her ear and pretending not to notice him. But she had, of course. David was good-looking. He could see it in the mirror in the morning (and in any shop window), and reflected in the admiring glances of girls in the street. Sarah used to laugh about that when they first starting dating, but she’d gone all quiet and suspicious more recently, despite his spewing all the required crap about her being the only one for him, blah blah blah. He could vomit that rubbish as convincingly as the next guy. Only she didn’t seem all that convinced anymore.

She’d even been rather taciturn when he’d begun to hint around the subject of marriage. He silently ground his teeth. He was going to have to pull out some stops on this one if he wanted to seal the deal. But he had just the thing in mind. He’d even spotted a convenient extra for his little play, sitting on a bench ahead – an old woman knitting a tiny red jumper in the morning sun, no doubt for some grandbrat. It couldn’t be a more perfect prop.


Sarah was worried. There was a knot of misgiving growing in her gut. She was more and more uncertain these days; about her life, her expectations, her choices…..David was putting pressure on her – or was he? Sometimes it felt like he was, but then in the next moment, she couldn’t be sure she wasn’t imagining things. He was so nice about things, like when she hadn’t been sure about moving in together. He’d deftly brushed aside her concerns with such worldly-wisdom, she’d felt all the foolishness of her silly doubts. What did she expect? This was real life, not some story, 50 Shades of Gray or something. He’d laughed gently at her and she’d hidden a blush. Had she always been so thick, so uncertain? She hadn’t used to think so – at least she didn’t think she had. But maybe she’d just been cocky with the confidence of youth then…

David took her hand and smiled down at her, his handsome face crinkling good-naturedly, bringing her back to the present. She smiled a rusty smile in return, feeling guilty for her apprehensions, her mistrust. At some point, she would have to stop questioning everything, he’d said, and learn to trust someone. He was right.


Marjory was enjoying the warmth of the morning sun. She’d brought out her knitting, as she did most mornings, weather permitting, into the park beside which she’d lived for 35 years. She and Don had moved in here within 2 months of coming from England, and they’d not moved since. There was no need. There were good schools nearby, and the beach within a stone’s throw. It was a pleasant neighbourhood then, and house prices had shot up over the years, to the point that she was a millionaire in assets now. Don had passed away 5 years ago, but truth be told, she didn’t really miss him. He’d been an ornery old prick. Given her the odd bash when in his cups. Nothing too bad in the scheme of things, but still, life was frankly easier without him to look after. She could sell up and use the money to do a bit of globe trotting (it was all the rage these days), but she was happy enough pottering around the garden, just enjoying the peace and quiet, the company of her cats and her kids when they came to visit, and her knitting club.

The boys weren’t far, just flatting in the city while they studied at uni. Jon was studying engineering. He’d always been a bright boy. He had a nice girlfriend. They were well-matched, and Marjory would be surprised if they didn’t end up married, with 2.8 children, living in the central suburbs. Connor was going to be a chef. She couldn’t work out where that had come from; he’d never been one to spend time in the kitchen growing up. She was fairly certain he was gay, but he hadn’t come out, at least to her. She smiled and shook her head to herself, casting off the last row of the little red jersey she was making for the local church fete. The knitting club generally made a few hundred for the church with their goods – people ate up handmade stuff these days. “Granny chic” they were calling it.

She glanced up briefly as she held up the little garment to examine her work. A young couple she’d noticed earlier were strolling toward her. He was looking intently at Marjory. She hid a grin and a roll of her eyes. She knew what he thought he saw. Assumptions. People were full of them. Being gray didn’t make you a granny, but she didn’t care to dye her hair just to set them straight.

But then she saw that the young man had started crying, slightly ostentatiously, to her mind, and she discretely observed them with more attention while tucking away her knitting. The girlfriend was looking horrified and was attempting to console him, but the source of the guilt mixed in with her expression was unclear. Snatches of their conversation reached Marjory as they walked a bit stumblingly by.

“…s wrong, David?”

“Nothing, Sar……..well……..baby brother died……Mum….heartbroken……..always hoped….grandchild…..love you, Sarah…….why wait? …..get married…….so happy…….have a baby……..”

By this time, Marjory was smelling bullshit. She knew the odour well. The cheeky bugger even had the front to look back at her over his girlfriend’s supporting shoulder and wink at her – just as if she were a co-conspirator.

But she wasn’t that. No, she wasn’t. Oh, the assumptions people made about old ladies.

She watched with sharp eyes as the young couple crossed the park and went into their flat.



Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

I was the first to arrive at the cafe. Not just of our group, but of anyone, it seemed. There was a car parked out front, which I had pulled in beside, but otherwise there was no sign of life, besides a lone chicken which wandered over, and then wished it hadn’t, as the Burglar proceeded to haunt its steps.

I rattled the closed door with it’s fat round handle set low in the middle of the door like a hobbit’s, but it was locked, despite the the “come on in, we’re open” sign nailed to the doorframe. Peering through the door’s coloured glass panes, I couldn’t detect any movement, though I could see down to the kitchen, where a commercial fridge stacked with cold drinks faced the long passage. The interior was darkened and unpromising. Looking at the deck on which I stood, I felt even less confidence. There was an old and uninviting wicker loveseat propped against the railing, against which an aged painted sign was discarded. But there was a new-looking flag pronouncing the presence of a cafe standing to attention outside the gate.

I stepped back, looking around and biting my lip. I vaguely remembered, now that I was here, having a similar dilemma the last time I’d stopped by. But I couldn’t leave without consulting with my girlfriends, and they were running late.

I went back down the old and uneven steps and planted myself in the short red brick path in front of the cottage. Emmie was still pursuing the fat chicken, who seemed happy enough to have the attention, though she  was playing hard to get. There was still just the one hen; a bit of hide and seek probably relieved her boredom.

The gardens were somewhat overgrown, but they’d always been pleasantly so, in an English country garden way. I’m sure if I knew more about garden plants, I’d have been able to pick out older, now uncommon species. Even now, in the middle of winter, there were some blowsy, old-fashioned looking blooms among the leaves. The cottage itself was small, it was hard to believe that for the settlers whose homestead this had been, this was a luxury property. Owners over the years had done their best to keep most of the original features of the house, while converting it to a cafe, and had managed to retain the secluded feeling of the place, even as it had been encircled by suburbia.

Finally I heard the crunch of tyres on the long gravel drive, and the sound of an individual car broke away from the general hum. It was Marie, one of the buddies I was meeting. She’d busied herself at the back of her hatchback by the time I strolled over.

“I’m not sure anybody’s here,” I said, as we hugged.

She looked up at the flag, making its promises to the breeze, and gathered her parcels up under her arms, stylish as ever in her boots and snug black pants, blonde fringe flipping forward over her dark glasses as we picked our tentative way back to the door over the gravel in our heels.

“Do they have their hours anywhere?” she asked, going through similar motions to those I had performed 5 minutes earlier. Of course, she managed to notice the opening hours writ small at the bottom of the chalked sign on the deck beside the door, which I had missed.

“10-4,” I said, “Right…”

I pulled a wry face. Marie grinned, and we followed Emmie and the chicken round the verandah to the back, where tables and chairs were set up on the grass. Still no sign of life or movement, but it was a more promising place to wait for the others, while Emmie spied a sandpit and playhouse and toddled off to investigate. A hoard of pukekos were in residence in the adjacent orchard, but for a change they kept their distance.

Marie and I hovered beside an empty table, making small talk until the rest of our party eventually arrived; Isabelle, tall and trim, not looking at all like the mother of 3 large boys, and Niamh, a bundle of energy in a flowing bohemian top, red hair bouncing  in tandem with her personality, tousled little nephew in tow. (Later that morning the nephew would mug Emmie, whose first experience of hair-pulling and being sat on it would be, but still later they would explore the playhouses together, with the nephew repeating to himself “I’m being gentle”…)

By this time 10am had arrived, and since we felt there was a promise of coffee close at hand, Marie, by going round the back, established that there was, in fact, life in the kitchens, though with the qualifier that the manager had not arrived and they were not certain when they would open. This was a little unorthodox, but I feel one must take the good with the more amusing when it comes to the relaxed nature of life in New Zealand.

In any case, the kitchen opened shortly afterwards, with the young manager issuing from the building, waving and distributing menus and instructions for ordering, and we had a very pleasant morning tea in the thin winter sun.


 For Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Can you spot any adverbs (you shouldn’t be able to, but one, or more, may have snuck past me)?

Advanced Style: Style icons over 80

I first came across Advanced Style on Pinterest (but of course). I was in the throes of alternative fashion inspiration when boom! there were these fabulous ladies, oozing style all over the screen. Alternative? This is an alternative, I thought, and not just to twinsets and pearls.

I’m fascinated by these ladies, with their confidence, chutzpah even, to be sassy and sexy, or just plain alternative, long past society’s decreed polite age for that. Why do they capture my imagination so much?

These women own something, something age and society’s boxing of that hasn’t wrestled from their manicured grips. They own their own image and representation of themselves as women. No one defines them but themselves.

And then there’s the simple answer. That’s who I wanna be when I grow up.


All images by Ari Seth Cohen

Style icons over 80 Advanced style by Ari Seth Cohen

Since 2008, photographer Ari Seth Cohen immortalizes the streetwear of fashionistas over 70 around the world for his massively clicked blog Advanced Style. Result: thousands of clicks on the web, hordes of followers and now a documentary film in the U.S. and UK in these weeks.

Style icons over 80 Ilona 94 years, Joyce Lynn Dell 80 and 81. These three fashionable ladies are featured in the documentary “Advanced Style”. The film is based on the blog of the same name launched by American photographer Ari Seth Cohen, who from 2008 immortalizes “geriatric” streetwear around the world by identifying icons of style even at 80 years old. The documentary follows the lives of seven bloggers over eighty who share their thoughts on style, fashion, body and age.”Your body is your best friend,” the ladies are saying.

The idea of the documentary comes from…

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