My last day in New York. I’m going to another session of the wonderful writing group at SAGE. Once again they start at 3pm sharp, ready to roll. This time they have no leader and the leader never arrives but they have absolutely no problem in saying “Beverly – ?” Beverley turned to the group and said “Anyone got a prompt?”
So we end up with TOO BORING TO LIVE WITH. Again we write in a frenzy for 40 minutes, but this time there is no sign of the teacher. “So, we’re leaderless again” remarks someone, almost casually. They pass no comment but go instantly into the readings and positive comments with Beverley ably taking the reins, deciding with great finesse when someone has had enough time and it is time to move along. There is also no microphone and they worry about Joan who is over 90 and has hearing difficulties. “Joan, you are wonderful – can you hear me?” “When you say I’m wonderful, I can hear you!”
The stories are varied, some with real energy, most with astonishing insight into the lives of older gay men and lesbians. A woman married for many many years who “always knew she had a thing for women” so when her daughter was born with a learning disability she decided God had punished her. Beverley bemoaned the boredom of speaking with couples at lesbian dinner parties. Lee, whose Dial-a-Ride had dropped her at SAGE a full 90 minutes early and she had this joyous time to have the perfect breakfast. As people read, before and after they said, almost in passing “I don’t know what I’d do without this group”. They just kept saying it.
After the session was over I spoke to Lee about what the woman from SAGE singers had said the other day (“I wouldn’t be straight – all they get to do is play Bingo.”) “I’ll tell you something,” said Lee, “I’m straight – but SAGE is my home.
It’s my last session at SAGE. I’m really sad. I’ve seen six sessions, each positive, each with an equal sex ratio, each friendly and welcoming. A really positive template for participative arts for older people.