Elderly ladies drinking coffee?

Bowie

It’s something we often forget, as we remember the superstars who pass away, that their contemporaries are still with us. Not only that, but at times we forget just who their contemporaries really are.

You know what it’s like, I’d walked into town to the dentists, and then before I walked back, having bought train tickets and been to the building society and done all sorts of other stuff as well, I decided I could do with a coffee.

I looked round for a seat and noticed there was an arm chair in one corner. It was hidden behind a group of elderly ladies who had put two tables together and were sitting around them. I guess there was probably eight or ten of them at any one time, a floating conclave, some going, some arriving.

Anyway I got my coffee (Large salt caramel cappuccino if you’re buying) and took a seat. Well we internationally renowned authors are supposed to spend our time in coffee shops soaking up the atmosphere aren’t we?

But I couldn’t help overhearing the talk of the ladies next to me. What got my ears twitching was the comment made by one, “Yes, I liked his music.”

Their conversation had stopped with David Bowie, who they all liked, certainly his earlier stuff. Then some mentioned ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, John Lennon even came into the conversation. They were dismissive of the gossip, of the wives and ex-girlfriends and hangers-on telling their story. They clung to the real artist, the man and his music.

And I looked at them. My guess is that they were all between sixty-five and seventy-five. All retired. There was no grief at David Bowie’s passing. These are ladies who have buried marriages, husbands, children, and other loved ones. They know what grief is. But for David Bowie they felt a little sorrow which was all the more moving because it was sincere.

And I saw the white hair (because round here they don’t do ‘blue rinse’) and the lined faces and sensible clothes, and somehow I saw the girls in their short skirts and make-up and mothers telling them “You’re not going out like that, what would your father say.”

And in ten years half of them will be dead or in nursing homes, (because this isn’t Islington, we’re ordinary working class people round here and have ordinary working class life expectancy) and the memories will have gone.

And it struck me that if we really want to sum up the achievements of a man like Bowie, forget the hype, just listen to the gentle sorrow at his passing in the voices of a bunch of lasses who have carried a little bit of his music in their hearts for nearly fifty years.

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20 thoughts on “Elderly ladies drinking coffee?

  1. Sue Vincent January 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm Reply

    Bravo, Jim.

    • jwebster2 January 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm Reply

      I thought the lad was worth a mention

      • Sue Vincent January 12, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        So did I… being one of those older ladies myself.

      • jwebster2 January 12, 2016 at 4:52 pm

        slip of a girl.

      • Sue Vincent January 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm

        I may be old enough for a quick cackle there 😉

      • jwebster2 January 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm

        I think cackling can strike at pretty well any age 😉

      • Sue Vincent January 12, 2016 at 6:13 pm

        Ooh good 🙂 I’ll start practicing immediately 🙂

      • jwebster2 January 12, 2016 at 6:18 pm

        apparently knitting as you cackle counts as multitasking 😉 As an alternative have you thought of sitting cackling on the porch, in your rocking chair, clutching the twelve gauge 😉

      • Sue Vincent January 12, 2016 at 6:59 pm

        I’d probably have to go with the latter. Can’t knit… a sad lacuna…

      • jwebster2 January 12, 2016 at 9:46 pm

        than how will you keep your hands occupied as you cackle watching the heads drop from the Guillotine ?

      • Sue Vincent January 12, 2016 at 9:51 pm

        A glass of wine in each?

      • jwebster2 January 12, 2016 at 10:38 pm

        it would probably improve the cackling

      • Sue Vincent January 12, 2016 at 11:10 pm

        Most things would 🙂

  2. Mark Baker January 20, 2016 at 12:21 pm Reply

    I enjoyed the story especially because I’m from your neck of the woods and one of those ladies might have been a relative! It’s rather good hanging around in coffee shops isn’t it!
    I’ve heard some good conversations there too. Re train tickets would that be VT? Best Wishes. Mark.

    • jwebster2 January 20, 2016 at 10:18 pm Reply

      Yes VT, off down to London, just got back a couple of hours ago 🙂 (which is why I’m back on line)

  3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt January 20, 2016 at 9:33 pm Reply

    My grandmother said she never felt a day over 18. She was 94 when she died.

    I’ve never felt much older than 18 – and am sometimes surprised to find I’m one of the grownups, and now, at 66, one of the retirees.

    ‘Elderly’ you may please dump. Why can’t we all just be people? Classifying us by hair color and wrinkles may be convenient, but it leads to dismissing a lot of fascinating people. I think Cher is older than I am – she looks fabulous.

    Now, if I can just move into the retirement community with the gym…

    • jwebster2 January 20, 2016 at 10:20 pm Reply

      I think that older people have a duty to be the grown ups. What’s the point is having all this experience and wisdom if we’re not willing to both share it, but more importantly act on it.

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt January 20, 2016 at 10:32 pm

        I act on it – I just want it to be called wisdom and not ‘old lady-ness.’

      • jwebster2 January 21, 2016 at 4:07 pm

        It’s an interesting issue really and there’s a lot of depth in it. I think we’ve a duty to set some sort of example, and refusing to just curl up and die is part of it.

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt January 21, 2016 at 8:09 pm

        Oh, you’re right: I refuse to curl up and die easily. I’m going to see this out, and as many more as I can manage.

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