Sunday, 15 July 2012


I watched Educating Rita again, for the umpteenth time, I think I could empathise with almost everything Rita went through, including the part where she becomes a pompous twit.  

Of course real life, is not so simple, nor so straightforward.  Particularly if you are a mum, and more so if you single.  I went into higher education, because I had reached a watershed.  I was almost 40, and my kids, though older by then, still needed me, and I still needed to work.  

By the time I reached the decision, both my body and mind had reached the point of breakdown.  I don't say that lightly.  There is no harder job, than being a working mother.  We are crippled with guilt at leaving our child with a virtual stranger, and when we are at work, our mind is on whether we mentioned that the sprog doesn't like cheese, ergo we therefore mess up both roles. Can women really have it all?

I digress, for my breakdown, I had therapy, I went to the gym and signed up to at least 20 classes (they were having a 7 day free trial), and I wandered into the library to see if any writing courses were starting up in September.  I phoned the college, had a chat to the lecturer, and signed up that day!  

As a school leave all those years ago, I never thought of higher education as an option.  I was young, pretty, and a bit wild!  To discover that it was there all the time was a bit of a revelation, like when the Wizard of Oz points out the magic of the ruby slippers.  That film gets me every time.  My dear old dad, though enlightened, never pushed me into further education, though I had a feeling he knew I would always get there.  I think he hoped I would be a nurse.  

Unfortunately, I have found that most of my generation, and class were destined for the caring industries and the factories.  In school at the time, a lot of emphasis was put on the ironing of mens' shirts and cooking for invalids.  To this day, I still make a spiffing cheese soufle and scrambled eggs* 

I feel many of the talents and skills of myself and fellow wizeneds is lost in time, as we are rarely considered a target demographic.  

If it wasn't for my arthritis I would organise a march on parliament, to persuade the government to LISTEN to the voice of experience and get a few wise old birds, who understand the problems of society first hand to pass on the benefit of their experience.    

I urge anyone hit by the recession, and are now enjoying the extra free time, lol, to look at the resources available locally, and take up that course you always wanted to do.  Be it how to grow your own cabbages or discuss the works of the Bronte sisters. 

This is the time to have a look at any courses that still  have vacancies, for September.  If you sign up now, you haven't got long to wait, and you can't back out!  

For me higher education showed me a side to life that I had never seen before.  It felt as though Part I had been in black and white, but now I was seeing it in colour. It was as though I was part of a break out group who dug a tunnel out of Stepford Village and there was no going back.  I want to shout out to other women, just like me, from my background, 'hey come on in, the waters fine'.  

Age should never be a barrier.  I once had the privilege of attending a college event, where a delightful 91 year old lady won Student of The Year!  


  1. I returned to college as a mature student, there were only 2 of us old enough to be the other students mother! I think i was older than most of the lecturers actually! I was horrified at the way the younger students spoke to the lecturers and threatened to lamp quite a few of them if they didn't sort their behaviour out and their language.
    I was surprised at the end of the first day that my tongue was still intact from all the biting i had to do! I became class rep in that first year and put the fear of god into them if they stepped out of line but almost 10 years on and i'm still in contact with some of them.
    College and Uni made me realise that all the years in my chosen "artistic" profession that i did have a brain i'd just not used it before, i'd never been mentally challenged, always thought i wasn't clever enough even though i did have a degree for my "artistic" talent.

    You're never too old to learn, every day is a school day!

  2. never know what you are capable of till you try it. I never thought in a million years i would be studying at University, never, especially at my age. I love it, absolutely love it even when i want to throw the computer through the window with stress looking for that 'Magic paragraph' to make my assignment have that special oomph lol.

    Well done Bell and well done to the post above mine..You are never too old to learn xx