I don’t know if any of you have heard of U3A (University of the Third Age)? Sounds like some mad cult where Terrance McKenna or even Paul McKenna clones attempt to immanentize the eschaton with the help of hefty cheques donated by gullible (er loyal) followers. Actually it’s far more mundane. It’s a writing group for pensioners.
My grandmother had been going for years, until recently when she moved. I hope she finds a new group to join where she is because its enabled her to get down dozens of stories from various stages in her life covering everything from the 20’s to present. It provides a fascinating insight into one woman’s viewpoint on the different eras (and for me a interesting look into my family).
I think it’s really opened up her world of reading as well. Whereas once upon a time she may have just read quaint, safe stories about farming communities in rural Norfolk or what have you, she’s now trying out anything and everything. She’s currently halfway through The Reader, which I would have thought was far too graphic for her (you know like my grandmother never had sex or anything) and picked up my copy of Lauren Beukes Zoo City, started reading, and said “Oh yes, this is just my cup of tea”. What? You’re 87 for God’s sake you can’t read Zoo City.
Well anyway I gave her one of my shorts, which is all about being a 15 years old in the early nineties and listening to heavy metal. She was absorbed, I couldn’t believe it she only looked up halfway through to say “you’re writing has really come on (I think the last thing she read of mine I was about 7, so I hope so), I can’t put this down”. Man I’m stoked.
I wish we could get more people from her generation to record their stories though. It’s not just because it’s a different era, its because their viewpoint on that era is so different from our own. My father-in-law has the most amazing tales from India, but it’s so hard convincing him to write them.
Maybe when I cut down on my own projects I can try and collate some of them… maybe… it’s always maybe with that kind of thing and it wouldn’t really be the same coming through my eyes.