Air travel style: from glamour to practicality in one lifetime

In Singapore Airport T1,I was admiring the confident, relaxed travellers all around me and remembering my first trips on a commercial airline, in the early 1960s. At the time, air travel seemed impossibly glamorous and we were all strongly aware that these journeys were changing the world of travel forever.

We bought special outfits or at least wore our Sunday best. (Don’t ask.) For my first trip I wore my “going away suit”: Mrs McAlpine ascended the steps to the entry dressed in a sage green two-piece suit, with a short straight skirt and a perky shaped jacket with collar and bow. Her outfit was topped off with a multicoloured raffia hat to hold her golden hair neatly in place for the long journey to Australia. Her handsome husband Grant wore a crisp navy reefer jacket with silver buttons, a polo necked sweater, and classic trousers in khaki wool gaberdine.

One turned at the top of the steps to wave farewell to the sniffling relatives left on the ground, then one disappeared into the bowels of the plane. As the plane taxied on to the runway, a uniformed official ran ahead waving a red flag to shoo stray cattle off the tarmac … just kidding. Then we were in the hands of the Air Stewardesses, the most glamorous, modern job available to ambitious young women.

Jump ahead 50 years. Comfort rules, and most travellers wear jeans, shorts, T-shirts or sweatshirts, and sneakers. Backpacks and roller cases and rolling tracks and golf-carty-things make carting luggage around a fairly simple business. One tiny device acts as portable phone, map, ticket, boarding pass, camera, wallet, newspaper, book, movie theatre, games room, insurance policy, address book — oh stop me or I’ll go on all night. Coffee comes in a cardboard cup. Airports unrecognisable.

You know what I mean. We moan and groan about new inconveniences around travel (security checks, cancelled planes, bad this, bad that, jet lag, leg room not…) — fair enough. But it’s good to remind ourselves of those long ago days, when every air trip was noisy and slow and wildly exotic, and we knew exactly how great was our privilege.

Advertisements

Which cabin bag?

Green cabin bag, denim bag, Doctor bag, vinyl bag, antique Webstock bag and 3 day backpacks
Ten hand bags: which ones to carry on the plane to Malaysia?

Shortly I’m off on a quick trip to Kuala Lumpur, always a great pleasure. But this entails torturing myself over the issue of The Travel Bag. I take the same dirty little green wheelie bag everywhere: that’s not a problem. I will take my usual wallet on a string for passport and phone and tickets: that’s not a problem.

IMG_9381

I will take an ancient pink WETSUIT bag that holds the electronic stuff (ipad, keyboard, Kindle, adaptors): I will love it until death do us part.

But where to put the WETSUIT bag, plus water bottle, snacks, toothbrush, and neck cushion?

For a mad day or two I thought of b-u-y-i-n-g a new bag, since my everyday brown vinyl bag is mighty shabby. Then sanity prevailed: I recalled all the other bags in my possession, and threw them on the floor in a beauty parade. Half of them are used every week as a gym bag, dance bag, swim bag, choir bag or daily bag respectively.

  • Green bag: perfectly designed as a cabin bag, is colour coded, totally naff and a hefty 1.2 kg. OK OK, I will consider it.
  • Sloppy brown vinyl bag: old and familiar, the default choice.
  • Doctor’s bag: cool, but zip’s too short. Na.
  • Bright blue $5 gym bag: tempting.

Not short of bags, no. But which one to take on the plane? No trip is complete without a certain amount of neurotic self-torture of this nature. What do you recommend?

 

A summer writing school with the Write Into Life approach

OrientalBay-Polyrus-ccbynd2.0
Oriental Bay, Wellington, with Mt Victoria in the background. Photo Polyrus CC BY-ND 2.0

I’m super-excited to declare that in January 2018 I’ll be offering 3 one-day writing workshops in the Write Into Life mode. That means the writing exercises will all be integrated into real life: either solving real problems or just offering techniques that not only extend your writing skills but also support your well-being.

In brief—because hey, they’ll be in beautiful Wellington, New Zealand, and most of you live in other countries, and hey, numbers are strictly limited:

 

Introducing On Research — a blog for Age Concern New Zealand

Let me introduce a blog written by my friend Professor Judith Davey, On Research. She writes this for Age Concern in New Zealand, who have “a passion to see older people experience well-being, respect, dignity, and be included and valued.”

Here’s a link to her latest article:

University Study in Retirement — Choices and Balance

If your own interests overlap with Judith’s area of expertise, please explore her blog and hey, how about leaving a comment?

6 reasons for reading this particular blog about ageing

  1. On Research is read by distinguished people worldwide: they quote from it!
  2. You can trust the information to be strictly true and correct. Now that’s a little bit unusual.
  3. You’ll read case histories and stories, but they won’t be random. They’ll be in context and they’ll illustrate broad truths.
  4. You can comment, share your own experience and give her feedback. You’re good at that! The blog has readers but Judith never knows what they’re thinking, and it’s lonely.
  5. The writing is easy to read and easy to understand. That’s a gift, especially when it comes to research.
  6. We need this information. In the wider world we’re choking on truckloads of instant research results, true and false. Judith is the calm compassionate voice of reason.

Her entire article is reposted below and I cannot remove it. I reckon you’ll be better off just going straight to her blog:

Age Concern blog: On Research

On Research

Judith A. Davey

6/10/2017

Why university study? Many of the 60-plus interviewees in our Victoria University study[1], who had not previously been at university expressed a long-held desire for study at this level, and for those who had been before it was an obvious choice for learning. Several people had tried distance learning but found it isolating and others were not satisfied by community-based classes. There were several comments on U3A courses, which were seen as low level and non-participatory.

Why study at all and why these subjects?

These questions are difficult to separate. For some interviewees the answer was a desire to pursue an interest of very long standing – either work-related, a hobby, or an aspect of personal experience. Work-related interests were not to the fore, although Don was taking BCA to update his accountancy skills and Katherine and Carl chose courses relating back to their…

View original post 743 more words

Writing tips: practise what you preach

Classic diagram of the life-cycle of a project

I’m fully focused on a summer writing school I’m planning for January 2018, right here in Mt Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand. And when I say planning, I mean that in a rather formal sense.

Swerving offline to teach writing

I’ve been teaching online for nearly 20 years, one way or another. I’m not knocking MOOCs or virtual courses! I’ve done great things online, and I still get a buzz from the creative component of online teaching.

But last month, the Manawatu Writers’ Festival reminded me just how much I love teaching courses about writing — in the flesh, to real live people, in the same room as me. So I tried for the umpteenth time to book the space I’ve had my eye on for years, but never managed to secure.  Bingo! It has new management, a new website, a calendar of bookings, a contact email that worked, and an efficient person who said yes instead of no.

Motivation and venue collided in a happy crunch, and I quickly grabbed some suitable dates, and got a deadline for my new venture.

Project management skills: useful for any project

So the start of this project (a 4-day Write Into Life summer school in January 2018) was seemingly random, accidental, impulsive, irrational. If so, re-examining the concept might show that it’s doomed to failure. In fact this little dream has been brewing for years, but when the moment was right, the decision happened in a flash.

And now it’s urgent! The first workshop is only 17 weeks away.

I was halfway through creating an online course called Fix That Novel: use project management skills to finish the book you’ve been writing… or just dreaming of. For now, the online version of that course is on the back shelf. But I don’t want it to feel neglected, so I’m going to tackle my summer school as a formal project, and practise what I preach.

No phase of project management will be bypassed in this project: I want it to run beautifully, and it will. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Wedding song

I think you’ll like this love poem. Do reblog if you have friends about to marry, or just in love.

Poems in the wild

wedding.jpg

So you are the hunter
and I am the gatherer
and you are the gardener
and I am the traveller
and I am the dancer,
and you are the dance.

And I am the dreamer
and you are the harbour
and you are the future
and I am the farmer
and you are the juggler,
and I am the clown.

I see you—I know you,
I love you—I see—

that you are the builder
and I am the weaver
and you are the mover
and I am the mender
and you are the mountain,
and I am the cloud.

And you are the lover
and I am the lover
and we are a twosome,
and you are the one.


poem by rachel mcalpine cc by 2.0, photo by Ashley Rehnblom cc by 2.0

View original post

19 books about aging, happiness, and the bonus years

books-for-the-bonus-years
Books to sustain, enlighten and entertain us as we dare to contemplate the prospect of growing older and dying.

For the record, I list some books below that have educated or entertained or enlightened me as I nervously anticipate the final stage of life. Happy reading! Links are to the Amazon page for each book.

Please share your own favourite books about these topics, and tell us what they gave you. (That’ll be your good deed for the day.)

Non-fiction

  1. The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Norman Doidge, 2007 — Inspiring. Revolutionary at the time. Introducing neuroplasticity, the reason why a boot camp for old age is a goer.
  2. The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable discoveries and recoveries from the frontiers of neuroplasticity. Norman Doidge, 2015 — Exciting sequel to The Brain That Changes Itself.
  3. Mindful Work: How Meditation is changing Business from the Inside Out. David Gelles, 2015 — Valuable. Entertaining. Why it’s never too late to start meditating.
  4. The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business. Charles Duhigg, 2014 — Boot camp basic. The science behind forming good new habits and replacing bad ones.
  5. The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: Discover the surprising talents of the middle-aged mind. Barbara Strauch, 2010 — Thrilling.
  6. Stumbling on Happiness. Daniel Gilbert, 2006 — Joyful science.
  7. Amortality: The pleasures and perils of living agelessly. Catherine Mayer, 2011 — Sobering. Documents the new wave of Peter Pans and their (our?) denial of old age.
  8. The Art of Aging: A doctor’s prescription for well-being. Sherwin B. Nuland, 2007 — Thoughtful.
  9. How we die. Sherwin B. Nuland, 1995 — Unforgettable description of exactly what happens to body and brain as we age and die. Lays bare the cost and conflict induced by medicalized death.
  10. Being mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end. Atul Gawande, 2014 — Brilliant and brave. Deservedly top of the pops.
  11. The Nostalgia Factory: Memory, time and aging. Doowe Draaisma, 2013 — Fascinating, perceptive and wise.
  12. Travels With Epicurus: A journey to a Greek island in search of a fulfilled life.  Daniel Klein, 2014 — Enriching. Studies contented old age as lived by Greek friends and described by philosophers.
  13. Somewhere Towards the End: A memoir. Diana Athill, 2009 — Irritating, but widely admired.
  14. From age-ing to sage-ing: A revolutionary new approach to growing older.  Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, 1997 — Advice on how to become wiser with age, and start a revolution. (Good luck with that.)
  15. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. Jonathan Haidt, 2006 —Walk through 10 big ideas and find one that matches your style.
  16. How to Age. Anne Karpf — An important essay on gerontophobia in the west with all its cruelty, daftness and implicit self-sabotage — and the high price we pay for this.
  17. This Chair Rocks: a Manifesto Against Ageism. Ashton Applewhite. This book is  a tonic, suit of armour and box of chocs rolled into one. Go Ashton!

Fiction and poetry

This list is short, because I quickly realised that it could become e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s. Please share your favourite fiction and poems that sustain or enlighten or entertain you, because of some association with death and aging.

  1. The Summer before the Dark. Doris Lessing — Stunning. Must-read. The heroine is plunged into an artificial old age by circumstance. An exercise in empathy and experimentation.
  2. Memento Mori. Muriel Spark — Loved it. A mysterious caller announces to each character in turn, “Remember you must die.” Rrright! How do you respond? Call the police? Explode? Run away? Or agree… Beneath a feather-light, frivolous treatment of death lies a timeless message for us all.