The Blog

It's the everyday things you miss

Penny 72 from London. Retired, divorced mum of two and grandma. She lives with her long term partner in London.

How are you?

I have up days and down days but I am a cheerful optimist. 

How do you see yourself?

I’m a bit too willing. I’m afraid of confrontation. I shy away from problems. I’m a bit of an act sometimes. I’m a pleaser. I say yes when I mean no. 

What do you think about body image?

By putting on make up it enhances your face. Maybe for me it’s to do with lack of confidence. When I started work aged fifteen, we had to wear makeup, it was part of what you did. The look of the 50s and 60s was all about fashion and makeup. Maybe I have been wearing it for so long I don’t know any different. I think I look tired and washed out without it. I want to make the best of what I’ve got. The ageing process isn't much fun but I think people who have botox take away their character.

What are your thoughts on marriage?

I didn't think I would get divorced, we were married for eleven years. I like the state of marriage. My partner now won't marry me. I only got divorced because I thought we would get married. We've been together for forty years.

Where does all you energy go?

Sometimes I waste my time; I walk around aimlessly. I go out because I don’t want to be at home all day. Sometimes I go to the bus stop and get on the first bus that comes along, not the one I intended to get on, but then I end up shopping and then I’m not happy as I look at clothes I can’t afford. I get tired and need a rest so I go to the cafe sit all by myself and along comes the self doubt. I think it’s sad that I’m on my own and all these people around me are chatting and enjoying themselves.  

What are your dreams?

I would love to have a house with my own garden and to live near water.

What brings you down?

I have an old friend who likes to go out, but she drags it out too long and it’s gets boring, then I feel I don't want to do it again. She's too demanding and it's all about what she wants to do. It’s quite hard, I like her but she's very persistent.

How do you best express yourself?

Though make up. I know it sounds trivial but I love it. I’m always drawn to the beauty counters in department stores. I wouldn’t go out without makeup. I like make up, I always have. I have a lot of makeup and spend a lot of money on it, it makes me feel better. I appreciate it on other women too. I also like creating a nice home. I’m always thinking about painting and changing the rooms around in my house.

Who or what inspires you?

I love the moon. If I wake at night I stare out at it. I would love to go to very dark places where you can study the stars. The moon gives me a lot of comfort.

What do you think about life?

It’s magical that we are here. We live in on a beautiful planet that’s sadly spoilt by stupid people.   

What’s your most memorable experience?

I was born in Hendon, North London. My parents both worked in an ammunition factory during the war. A bomb went off in our street and the glass in our conservatory shattered everywhere. My dad told me I’d been in my crib just few minutes earlier and for some reason he decided to move me. Although it’s not my memory it’s a story I remember from being a child and if my dad hadn't listened to his instinct I wouldn't be talking to you now.

I have lots of memories but the ones that spring to mind are: 

I was twenty-one, it was the summer of 1962. My dad was working as a sound engineer and he worked on big films like 'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'Bridge on the River Kwai'. This particular year he was in Rome filming 'Taming of the Shrew' with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I spent the summer with him and I remember meeting Elizabeth Taylor, she was very small. She was friends with my dad, one time she came over to talk to him. I remember she looked me up and down, she wasn’t that friendly. It’s only looking back that I realise it was quite a special time. 

Another memory I have is when I was sent to boarding school, I was four and half! You can’t judge it because you don’t know any different but I instinctively knew something wasn't right. I couldn't express myself any other way than just being desperately unhappy. I could never understand my parents. I don’t know why they would do such a thing. I never blamed them for sending me away but I never felt a bond with my mother. When I look back I think she suffered with depression. Experiences in your life make you what you are. 

What are your views on faith?

I wouldn't say I was religious but I have prayed. It just happens sometimes, it’s intuitive. The day my Mum died I said, "Oh please God help me," it was so awful and I was terribly anxious - it was spontaneous prayer and it helped. She died, it was the right time. She was suffering. It was as though I was being look after. 

What do you think about death? 

After my Mother died there have been times when I've been very unhappy. Sometimes I’d wish her back, “Where are you mummy?” You miss them not being around. I'd go to her for advice, she’d often send me clippings from the newspapers about things relevant to me. It’s the everyday things you miss.

I don't want to go into a nursing home, there has to be a better way. I wish to die in my sleep. It’s getting closer and it is on my mind but not all the time. I wonder how I’ll cope if my partner goes first. It does cross my mind.

What would you like to leave for the next generation.

Not to have any of these horrible world issues that are going on. I hope my grandchildren remember me being a part of their lives. 

Are you free?

Yes I feel I can make choices and I’m lucky. My partner doesn't stop me from doing anything.