Many thanks to Finstall Cross WI. Last night a large crowd turned out for their first meeting of the year and to hear me talk about my books and the way I write. An enthusiastic audience, they listened intently and asked intelligent questions.
Although I do quite a lot of author talks and books signings in various places, I never lose that enthusiasm I have when talking about my books and the characters within them...they are like old friends, even the nasty ones!
This was only my second foray into the world of WI and I found this particular group to be very different from my previous experience. These ladies were lively, feisty and had a very, very active social life...something I must admit to being a little in awe of.
With so many available groups offering a variety of activities to their members, I had to wonder why so many women isolate themselves as they get older.
Many, many years ago, when I was around 22, I dated a young man who had lost his father at an early age. His mother had remarried soon after, to a very kind, gentle bear of a man called John.
Unfortunately at the age of 46 [if memory serves] John had a fatal heart attack and died, leaving my boyfriend's mother twice widowed by the age of 45.
I remember the shock and the sense of loss I felt that the world had lost such a lovely man. I can't, even now, get fully to grips with how his wife must have felt, having had to bury two men she adored within the short span of her lifetime.
At the time, 45 had seemed moderately old - having now passed that age myself and also watched the world reassign the concept of 'middle-age' to a yet slightly distant decade, as people strive to stay younger for longer - I had thought that her life was effectively over.
With her role as wife effectively swept away in one cruel stroke and her role as mother diminishing with her brood finding life partners and moving out to homes of their own, I feared for what the future held for this indomitable lady. I wish I had known about the WI then, as I would certainly have steered her in their direction.
But it was another age. People in their teens and early twenties now are used to seeing people in their forties, fifties and even sixties wearing the same clothes as them, frequenting the same pubs and even using modern technology such as android phones and IPods.
Back then there was more of a distinction between generations. People in their sixties did not wear jeans; women over a certain age did not wear high heels or any clothing which did not include a high fibre count in polyester and anyone over the age of thirty-something could not properly understand or work a video recorder.
So when did this change take place? I honestly don't know. It must have been gradual I guess but it was certainly sweeping. I wonder too what prompted the change. Did we all as a nation, nay species, decide that we were going to live more until we died? Or was it something about my own generation, some refusal to let time catch them in it's grip without giving it at least a good run for its money? Perhaps you have your own theory.
All I know is this - I'm glad of the change and in particular I was heartened by the vivaciousness of last night's WI group. So watch out ladies - one day I might just join you!
Until then, Happy Reading!