Advanced old women
August 14, 2019 — 5:23

Author: Dorothy Johnston  Category: Uncategorized  Comments: 2

photo of Dorothy Sayers

“Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.”

This wonderful quotation is from Clouds of Witness, a 1926 mystery novel by Dorothy L. Sayers, the second in her series featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.

I haven’t read Clouds of Witness, so I don’t know who says it, or whereabouts in the novel it comes. I should read it, being myself a lover and writer of mysteries.

I have, however, quoted Sayers’s lines quite often during the last few years. I sent them to a friend after I joined Grandmothers for Refugees. (I’m not  grandmother, so I had to become an associate member.)

But I’m old enough to be a grandmother, which is the point.

I have nothing against young women. Many whom I meet are brave and wonderful, but I admit to indulging a private smile at the picture of them tumbling, gracefully, regretfully, at hurdles, while we grannies and would-be grannies, with our grey hair and whiskered chins march on.

I’m particularly mindful of the need to keep marching on as the launch of my twelfth novel approaches. I should feel proud to have got this far, and I do. I should feel grateful to all the people who have helped and continue to help me, and I definitely do. I look back at the hurdles where I fell and lay there panting, then got up again and stumbled on.

Sayers says we advanced old women are unstoppable by earthly forces. Of course it’s conceited to claim we are advanced. But I think we’re entitled to the claim when we look back at the hurdles and realise that any one of them might have been the end.

When I think of earthly forces, I mainly think of human ones, that did not want me to succeed. I don’t think of the wind and rain, the wild storms that have never been my enemies.

Thank you Dorothy Sayers, for your foresight and your strength of purpose. Thank you all the other writers of my age, who have never given up.

  • It’s an interesting idea. Is it because younger people (men and women) are more locked into what they think they “should” be, or because they see themselves as still in the process of becoming something, or simply that older people are more realistic about the fact that most of us end up with an equal amount of success and failure?

    August 14, 2019 — 6:42
  • I think it is because principle is tested by adversity, and hopes and dreams are tested by experience. The hopes and dreams of becoming a writer are sorely tested by experience, except for the extremely lucky few.

    August 14, 2019 — 22:42
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