Sunday’s are generally my favourite days of the week as I’m usually sat at home as I am right now…today I am pleased to say that I am on Anne Caters blog tour for Hall Of Mirrors and what a guest post I have for you.
I also want to take the time to say that Anne is amazing I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her in person although I believe we have been in the same room before. Thanks for inviting me onto this tour and for being so understanding as I have been under the weather of late. Still resting the voice or trying to. Without further ado I give you my guest post.
Recently I went to dinner with a publisher who brought along his 85 year-old mother without even thinking to mention it. She proved to be sharp and funny, and enhanced the table considerably, preventing it from descending into an endless discussion about book rights. She certainly knew the square meterage of her home. (‘You must come visit. My lounge is 82 metres. Try the prawns.’)
Ageism feels like one of the last taboos in Britain. It’s still unthinkingly prevalent in British novels and newspapers. It’s possibly the last great taboo we’ve yet to deal with; I hope one day soon we’ll look back with horror at ageism in print in the same way that we once accepted descriptions of women in newspapers – ‘pert blonde’, ‘voluptuous redhead, 23,’ etc.
One of the reasons why I made my detectives Bryant & May senior citizens was because I had become increasingly aware of how sidelined everyone over sixty was becoming in London. As medical care improves the government raises the retirement age, but as we are now a city of invisible services (75% work in some form of media or hospitality) the workforce also grows younger, and peer pressure creeps in. It’s understandable, I suppose, that the young prefer to work with those of a similar age, but how can older people remain in employment? When was the last time you saw a senior waiter in London?
The problem goes deeper. In Britain a number of factors shut older people away. The anti-savings economy, the unpredictable weather, property prices, changing neighbourhoods, social mobility and the end of families living together mean that the old can be forced into a lonely existence. In much of Europe multiple generations eat out regularly and live in the same building, and dinners automatically add family members.
One clever move used in Europe is for the council to pick up half the installation cost of lifts in apartment buildings, meaning older folk don’t move out and the area doesn’t simply gentrify itself to death. Compare this with Notting Hill, once filled with multiple-generation families, then wrecked by bankers who are now complaining that they’re having to move out because the area has ‘lost its atmosphere’!
It has become almost unthinkable outside of Europe to have your grandparents living with you. Instead the opposite has happened; most Italians don’t leave their parents’ homes until they’re in their late thirties. Perhaps now the young can repay the gift when the tables are turned.
Bryant & May are fictional, of course, but I use them to express my opinions about age and society. I also wanted a chance to show them young for a change, so ‘Hall of Mirrors’ is a flashback to 1969. Rest assured that my detectives be growing old very disgracefully indeed!
You can download Hall Of Mirrors Here
I aim to have lots of treats for you this week so watch this space I am also still in need of questions as I would love to post my Q&A next week sometime…leave a comment Here