Alex is a retired journalist & radio presenter, she worked at ABC Canberra Radio for 22 years.
It was one of those moments when you know you are risking judgment, and it may not be pretty.
Batty old bag or “cred” for a woman of a certain age who knows what she wants?
One day after pilates, (yes I am the full retirement cliché) I was invited to brunch with some much younger pilates participants. Just a beautiful bunch at brunch. They wear Lululemon, they do jobs such as being lawyers for the homeless or work with the long-term unemployed, and there were a couple of journalists too (real journalists, not fake ones).
So why did I have to do it - “Excuse me this latte is luke-warm, could I have another that’s hot?” - Yes, I wanted to talk about the homeless, the barriers to employment and owning your own house, one young person's thesis on participation in the environment, but also, I had to have a hot coffee.
Before our brunching, my long-suffering companion in life looked at me as if to say, “Sloanie this will be the one and only time we’re invited”.
As we got up to leave, one of the bright, kind, humanitarian (and let’s face it), very good-looking young people announced to the table, “Alex we really like the way you sent the coffee back”. Oh, you lovely new friends.
And friends they have become. This is a hymn to cross-generational friendships.
I think my grandmother taught me the importance of not cutting yourself off from new ideas and new friends. In her eighties, she and her friend, Nancy, were renowned in the Bendigo experimental theatre scene. They’d sit in the front row, knitting. One particular performance featured one actor getting up naked and defecating into a tin-can on stage. Nancy was heard to ask my Gran: “Lorna what do you think of that?” Lorna’s reported reply: “Seems like he’s letting it all hang-out”.
So here’s to letting it all hang-out.
I love the conversations around our big eucalypt table. One young friend, Emma Pocock, has been working with women in rural areas in Zimbabwe and has since found space to write poetry:
I just stood there
Right beside her
As she filled that bucket
And rubbed dirt all over it
Flicking and catching the water
To run down its sides
Cleaner than I could have made it
Then she filled it
And with one deft move
It was on her head
As she swayed up the hill
Another friend, again in his twenties works with people living on the street. He talks about the impact of the drug Ice, how easy and cheap it is to make. His comment struck me: “the ones I really worry about are “the gamers”, they have a whole world online, they don’t need any of us”.
Our ‘good room’ saw local artist Chris Endrey play his album right through on our piano in candlelight to a small but entranced audience and our slightly miffed fluffy dog.
Or maybe it’s just the pure fun, the playful puppiness of being around young people. The big smiles, the chaos, the hugs, the p-plated old cars, the vegetarianism, the tears, the fury, chia seeds, the piercings, the“She got a tattoo where?”, and of course, the great music.
So Bernard Salt, you’re right, young people do like a good brunch and a smashed avo on toast. But the young lot I know also love conversations about a better democracy, about gender, diversity, is it fair or sustainable to eat other animals? About fairness, love and hate. I even know a couple who have started a new literary magazine because they are interested in ideas. Now that’s smashing it.