If I lost my voice it would be a tragedy.
Jean 64. Divorced mum of two grown up children. Now retired and very much a free, independent spirit.
How are you?
I am very well thank you. I’m glad to say my health is good. Most people I know at my age or older are on some sort of medication. Thankfully non of the unpleasant diseases of old age have got to me yet!
I am determined to pack in as much as possible before I get to 90. I do things to keep me healthy; I travel, exercise and eat healthily. I’m lucky that I don’t have any financial worries. I am happy and grateful for my life.
What is your most memorable experience?
I was born and brought up in East Africa and went to school in Kenya. I used to live on a hill looking over Lake Victoria. It was the colonial era. Everything was better back then. The schools, the roads and although we had servants the wealth was spread around. Those days have left the biggest impact on me to the point where most things I do these days are based around Uganda.
How do you see yourself?
I’m quite a slob really. I don’t like getting up in the mornings. I always have a long list of “to dos”. I tend to flow with the wind.
How do you feel about marriage?
My Mum died, I had a baby and moved house. Three stressful things, then when my daughter was just ten weeks old he buggared off.
What do you think about children?
I regret my children didn’t have a father around. I think if you bring children into the world then you have a duty to bring them up.
How do other people see you?
I think people think I’m friendly but over talkative. I like talking. I have noticed people avoid my gaze because I talk too much. Someone once made an observation that I don’t look people in the eye. It dawned on me that I can go off on tangents. I get easily distracted and then I can’t remember what I was talking about. So I think it’s best to look people in the eye - it keeps me focused.
What brings you down?
Not much really but I’m not very good at taking criticism. People tell me I talk too much. My children criticise me all the time.
What are your dreams?
I always wanted to be a doctor. My parents dissuaded me. They thought I wasn't sympathetic enough and then years later, as though it was some sort of consolation, they told me they thought I’d make an excellent doctor!
I do like to travel and when I go, I go alone. I’ve just been to South America for five months by myself. Chance meetings often are snatched opportunities - I would love to travel more.
How do you best express yourself?
By talking (laughing) Through singing, photography, calligraphy. Anything artistic. I always take my camera with me wherever I go.
Who or what inspires you?
Talking to people inspires me. People inspire me by what they've done. It makes me open to new ideas.
What do you think about life?
It's something you’re presented with. You didn’t ask to start or finish it but make the most of it. Be an opportunist. Grab opportunities when they present themselves. Try to enjoy yourself and do things for other people. I think it's important to earn money and also do something for others. Most people I know, once retired, do something for other people.
What would you like to leave for the next generation?
My book - when I’ve finished it! It's a 100 year history of the school I went to back in Uganda. I think if you have a skill leave traces of yourself behind. I’d like to leave my children with happy memories.
Are you free?
I have terrific freedom. I’ve worked so hard all my life and I have good pension. I feel I have a lovely life. I am free from worry and I can do what I want. Brilliant!
What have you taken from today?
Talking is even more important to me than I thought. If I lost my voice it would be a tragedy.