Selection of quotes and comments on ageing, gender and creativity


  • This isn’t much fun you know, hanging around waiting to be felled by the sergeant. Filled with silly anxieties about falling in the bathroom or setting the house on fire. People always seem to think that old people will set the house on fire. It seems to me a bit absurd. Of course, I am a bit absurd now. I see that in their faces. People like Polly, I see it in her face. I’d rather not, I do have to say. When I was young, the world was full of terribly handsome old men. I used to flirt with them. There are no handsome old men now. What has happened to them, I wonder?’ She laughed. ‘They were probably only fifty. It’s such a shame that handsomeness, beauty, leeches away with age. I was stopping being beautiful just when I had the freedom to enjoy it. “How lovely your mother must have been when she was young,” I hear people say to Grace, as if I wasn’t there listening. Good Lord, how I hate my invisibility. (Two Moons)
  • ‘She’ll come all right. Yes. She’ll come and she’ll eat like a starving lion. I’m sure she doesn’t eat proper meals on her          own. Old people don’t, you know. They pick at things. Eat out of tins. All that sort of stuff.’

    ‘How do you [George] know all that? You’ve been in Toronto for years.’

  ‘I presume. I watch the box. I go to movies. I have friends with ageing parents. They all seem to follow the same  pattern.’

   ‘Tash isn’t like any other ageing parent that I’ve ever come across.’

    ‘I suppose she’s quite remarkable.’

    ‘She’s working for another exhibition.’

    ‘She has such energy.’

   ‘For work, yes, for other things no. I suppose that’s all that matters, though. […]’ (conversation between George, middle-aged son of Tash, in her 80s, and middle-aged Stephanie, George’s former sister-in-law, about Tash, Foolish Mortals)

  • I would have liked to have had children. I would love to have leaned out of the kitchen window and called out, ‘Come in for your tea.’ I would love to have held a child on my knee and a picture book, ‘A is for apple. B is for balloon.’ I would love to have a drawer full of school reports. Oh bloody fuck! Such sentimental thinking is a sign of old age. Creeping old age. Now there were tears on her cheeks. Perhaps it was better to have someone beside you when that creeping started to happen. You could count your pills at the breakfast table, rub each other’s backs, listen to the snorings and coughings, watch the dripping eyes, the shaking of the head… oh, for heaven’s sake, shut up!” (Truth or Fiction)



  • Fifteen years together and some days

      there’s such pleasure in our bodies

      as they move through the seasons, far

      from the beauty they were born to.  (“A Good Day to Start a Journal”, 134, Everything Arrives at the Light)

  • Magnolia petals shine so much like flesh

      without the stains or softness

      aging brings,

      it hurts to see them fall. (Names of Loss and Beauty”, 3, Living Won’t Let Go)

  • Put your foot down flat like a block of wood

      and move stiff-legged. I worry about a fall,

      a broken hip, old bone that may not mend. (“Night Walk”, 28, Small Mechanics)