Nit-picking

No no no! First of all the Older People’s Day was advertised as beginning at 0945 but we know things don’t go that way. Things of a large scale conference nature for oldies usually warm up by midday. Mind you,  where was the event advertised?

Up Your Street crew, always on the ball and a guaranteed presence at all things relevant to seniors’ interests said, “No. Let’s get there at the beginning. There will probably be croissants, fruit juice and grapefruit delights.” (Being healthy- living conscious of course. ) Oh woe were we. Biscuits. Biscuits?

We were delighted to be in the City Hall, a building of light and spirals and then we were down in the cloakroom or certainly not the Assembly Room (double-booked). Mmm.from City Hall

Today was a chance to know the link between art and culture and what’s on offer in the form of dance, drama, singing, art and whatever to make us whole. Cinema was way down the list. I knew the agenda was not going to turn out as how it seemed. In fact Capital Age Festival in its gap year and Tate’s Soapbox had a platform to promote their affairs with a truly captive audience. The first item could have been called “Love Boris”. One speaker left to collect her son from boarding school.

I took notes whilst listening to a panel of wise old women. It wasn’t a women’s event. And lo and behold there was not one geezer on the panel of speakers. In the basement space there were not up to a hundred older people either but we’re supposed to pretend the room was packed to the doors. Nope.

One workshop was dismal. It’s irritating to be talked at as though we had not a university brain in the room. It’s devastating to hear  seniors describe themselves as victims.

The other afternoon workshop was a la Soapbox with an opportunity to debate issues specifically from the third or better “New” generation stance.* Our stimulus was a painting and a question such as “Are older people on the slag heap?” There in our workshop circle, we were able to see through massive windows the tops of Tower Bridge glinting gold in the Autumn sun. Down along the brown river KPMG Thames Clippers sailed their way and the Gherkin shone, shone, shone. Back in the room we were stuffed with nice sandwiches and proper tea in china mugs.

The theme of the Day was  “Art, Culture and Older People” with a generous spread of the standard mantra  that Art enhances the quality of our (older peeps) lives by enriching and illuminating us into positive states. There’s a debate in there somewhere. Note “art” not “arts” .

The evaluation session was not that: The chair of LOPSG gave her summing -up using all her positive words and expressing gleefully her take on the day. She felt refreshed. I did not. She was inspired. Inspired by what? We talking together with moans and why can’t we’s? There was one exciting part where a couple of participants put forward from the floor their dissatisfaction at the way this LOPSG event stemming from City Hall was hardly advertised. I couldn’t believe my ears at such bravery.

Up Your Street was mentioned by a speaker and by two participants. Age UK was mentioned  but was it represented today? I was there. Age UK never has a dedicated ‘what’s on in art and culture’ page. Up Your Street concentrates on what’s on for seniors and that online service has been copied by many including London Boroughs with their paid community outreach staff.

I get the feeling that older people (sic) were an afterthought in the big City Hall scheme of things.

Neither refreshed nor worn -out, just an incy wincy bit disappointed. Facebook and Twitter, major-movers in the ‘what’s on’ world were never mentioned.  Recently AgeUK and EE put on tea parties to get older people into the EE shops to handle tablets and thousands of seniors are on Facebook and Twitter. We were shown on the digi screen the welcome page for a new arts website specifically targeting seniors. Pretty white I’d say if we’re going for inclusion.

Up Your Street shares information about free events and activities for seniors around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Boris awarded Up Your Street an award for its services to London. There you go.

PS All negatives are not just my own. “New Generation” attributed to Patricia Rochford .(see picture)

patricia Rochford

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