The performing arts in all their variety, beauty and wonder have nourished my mind and fed my soul. If you throw reading (fiction, non fiction, poetry, history etc.) into the mix, I’m indeed blessed.
During my childhood, I longed to perform. But performance, a lisp and my inherent shyness sat uncomfortably together. It quickly became clear I’d never be an actor, singer or dancer. Art eluded me, also, but that’s another story.
Social life for eighty-years-olds includes visits from family, coffee with friends and meeting in groups for craft activities or exercise. Bus trips and overnight sleepovers give older people enjoyment and so do competition cards, bingo and bowls. Anything done with other people benefits us, and some things more than others. Some outings make us tired. Others energise us.
Events often take me by surprise. A marathon of fun last week delighted and enlivened John and me. We thought we’d be tired by the end. We were. But we’ll do it all again, whenever invited.
The Children, by playwright Lucy Kirkwood, entertains and provokes serious thought. On one hand, it can be viewed as witty and endearing. But The Children also carries a powerful message. It challenges the audience to think about responsibility between generations, and restitution for wrongs.
Walking speed, so it seems, can be a predictor of a person’s life expectancy. Much like vital signs such as pulse and blood pressure. Or how much a person weighs and how much alcohol they drink or exercise they do. Last year, medical scientists labelled loneliness as a useful predictor of a person’s health and life-span. I wrote a blog, ‘Is loneliness the next big health threat?’.
With The Good Turn, award-winning author Dervla McTiernan demonstrates once more her considerable skills as story-teller and writer. As in her two previous books, The Rúin and The Scholar (reviewed here), characters Detective Cormac Reilly and Garda Peter Fisher encounter crime and police corruption. Important aspects of their personal lives emerge to intrigue the reader. The Good Turn also features an apparently unrelated murder, which is eventually resolved.
Nursing comparisons between today and the olden days, when nurses trained in an apprenticeship system, make me laugh. Recently some nurses exchanged ideas about this topic on Facebook.
I was seventeen years old when I began to train as a nurse in 1955. Then, nurses in Western Australia became indentured to the Health Department. Actually, our fathers signed the papers that bound us for the next three years. Most people went straight from school to the hospitals to train. They were well under the legal age to enter into contracts when they started.
Poetry as a response to a recent blog post surprised and delighted me. I had written about grief and loss. You can read the original at Baby steps on the road to recovery My dear granddaughter, Jane-Heloise, sent me a copy of a lovely poem on the same theme by acclaimed American poet, Jane Hirshfield. The title, Da Capo, is a musical term which means ‘from the beginning’.
Witness: An investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice by Louise Milligan deserves its place on the Stella short-list (2021). Witness provides a frightening account of what it can mean to be the complainant in a sexual assault case.
Few people report sexual assault to the police. Fewer still take their case to court. It is almost impossible for alleged predators to be found guilty. This book makes clear why this happens in Australia.
Louise Milligan exposes flaws in the system. She demonstrates it as callous, sexist and ‘weighted towards the rich and powerful’. She calls for change.