Category: ageing


erwitt forliToday I visited the exhibition of Elliot Erwitt photographs at the San Dominico gallery in Forlì, Italy.

Many of the American photographer’s pictures were familiar although he is not a household name (at least not in my household).

The exhibition presents black and white + later color photos covering Erwitt’s long career – he is now 89 and still working.

Although the presentation of these images was haphazard and the audio commentary irritatingly superficial, it was well worth seeing.

Although Erwitt photographed many prominent figures, notably Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara and John F. Kennedy it is his eye for the absurdities of everyday life that are most memorable with dogs being a frequent subject.

One of my favorite images was taken at Prado Museum in Madrid in 1995 . This shows that Francesco Goya’s reclining nude of Maja is a big hit with male gazers while the clothed image of the same woman fully clothed has a lone female viewer.

erwitt

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mboy258There are no books or websites (at least none that I’ve found) written for vegan men who decide to run their first marathon at the age of 59.

By way of contrast there are plenty of guide books and blogs with photos of healthy young athletes; a fact that tends to have a de-motivating effect on mature runners like yours truly.

This post therefore has the twofold aim of plugging a gap in the market and sharing my experience after finishing the gruelling 42.195 km (26.219 mile) course.

I am living proof that you can go the distance on a plant-based diet and at my age.

I am not one of life’s natural runners. At high school I made a conscious attempt to avoid the cross-country races that were part of physical education curriculum.

I only really started seriously jogging late in my 40s when the effect of the ‘dolce vita’ in Italy was starting to be evident through a rapidly expanding waistline. Continue reading

brainThe final section of case studies in Oliver Sacks’ ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat’ is called ‘The World of the Simple’.

The first of the four essays examines the case of a young woman called Rebecca who, because of a number of physical and neurological handicaps, had spent her life being branded as a moron.

Sacks admits that he also initially regarded her as little more than a “broken creature” and something of a hopeless case. The neurological tests he carried out only served to confirm her retarded state. But when he saw her outside the clinic, he formed an entirely different impression.

He witnessed her instinctive and serene response to nature then later observed that when she danced or performed in theatre workshops she exhibited none of the awkwardness and clumsiness he had assumed was her permanent condition.

All this forced him to question how such subjects are judged; he wrote: “I thought, as I watched her on the bench – enjoying not just a simple but a sacred view of nature – our approach, our ‘evaluations’, are ridiculously inadequate”.

Reading this chapter made me reflect how the same inadequacies Sacks described can routinely be found in our educational institutions. For instance, standardized testing in schools is,at best, only a measure of one aspect of a young child’s intelligence. Continue reading

M TRAIN by Patti Smith (Bloomsbury , 2015)
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If you have lived in a cave for the past four decades or spent too much time listening exclusively to crappy chart pop you wouldn’t know that Patti Smith is a Rock’n’Roll star.

You wouldn’t necessarily be any the wiser from reading her second autobiographical work either since there are practically no references to music making.

What you do learn from this collection of short loosely connected essays is that she is addicted to coffee, hates housework, loves visiting the graves of dead poets, likes taking black and white photos with a Polaroid camera and spends a good chunk of her free time binge-viewing TV shows (The Killing is a particular favourite). Continue reading

WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING by Haruki Murakami (Vintage Books, 2009)

3031024When I first read this memoir about five years ago I was a casual jogger.

Picking it up again as I train for my first marathon, I see it now as a valuable mini-manual to get into the right physical and mental state.

You don’t have to be an amateur athlete or an aspiring writer to appreciate Murakami’s down to earth words of wisdom but it helps.

As a celebrated novelist, frequently tipped for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and a prolific marathon finisher, the Japanese writer and runner shares his experiences in a style that goes beyond the standard textbooks on both pursuits. Continue reading

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