Stopping Old In Its Tracks: Where Does This Boomer Attitude Come From?
It’s all about the widespread availability of hair dye. Hair dye stopped Old in its tracks, said a famous iconic author who died recently. So that’s looks taken care of, what about attitude? For me it’s music and independence. A fierce independence that grew out of the incomprehension that became known at the generation gap. I don’t think there’s ever been anything like it, generally, at any other time and mine was particularly extreme. My father was born two centuries ago, in 1899. He came late to parenting obviously - I’m not that old. In 1955, up I popped into my father’s life in the company of rock & roll and all things utterly incomprehensible to him. As time passed and I grew into my teens, the cohabiting peace-badge-waving hippie and the Victorian who’d fought in two world wars for all the freedoms that we enjoyed, were never going to see eye to eye.
For me growing up was all about growing away. I left home as soon as I could - still a child, certainly in naiveté, never to return apart from duty visits, and to this day regret the lack of communication that just grew and grew between us. I remember my father gazing on, baffled, as his 14-year-old daughter laughed until she cried, rolling about on the floor in hysterics at a man walking in a silly way on new TV show called Monty Python’s Flying Circus. This was nothing compared to the music. My poor father’s incomprehension and, well, sheer disgust, just grew as my (full-on) groupie instincts kicked in. From repeatedly playing an album called My People Were Fair & Had Sky In Their Hair But Now They're Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows to plastering the walls of my bedroom with an androgynous skinny being (“You call that a man?!”) with spiky orange hair and full make-up. I grew up in South London, which happened to be the beating heart of the 1970s rock scene. David Bowie played in the local pubs and village halls and my friend Jean and I were there. ALWAYS. Two shy 16-year-olds, the only regular fans at every single gig. He was kind to his fans and we got to know him a little. The scene in my current novel work in progress where he drives Avril home in his blue jag after a gig, still in his blue padded Ziggy spacesuit, did actually happen.
My father’s desire for me to go into his beloved RAF (Royal Air Force) was laughable. I understand now how hard it must have been for him, but I hadn’t a clue at the time, so wrapped up was I in myself and my beautiful idols. By the time the first boyfriend arrived - a musician of course, with frizzy Bolan locks, flowery Indian shirts and an intoxicating aura of weed and patchouli - all had been lost. At the age of 18, I was driven away in an orange VW Campervan plastered with peace logos to live in a kind of hippie commune without as much as a wave goodbye. I never talked with my parents about leaving home, but then we never talked about anything.
So, along with sexy savvy heroines, music is what I bring to my Boomerlit novels. The Widow’s To Do List is a comedy romance about a 50-year-old rock chick, a backup singer who can’t decide whether to age gracefully or disgracefully. As she struggles to get over her grief she finds herself in a world where sex is everywhere whilst death is still the great taboo. My male lead is a musician, a cross between the two sexiest men on the planet in the 1970s who weren’t David Bowie or Mick Ronson - Cat Stevens and Leonard Cohen. Hidden beneath all the words runs a deep regret. A sadness that will never go away for the father I grew up with but never knew.
About the Author
Stephanie left school at 15 and joined the BBC as a Russian Section junior secretary. Before taking up writing, she was a BBC TV arts production assistant, researcher and director. Her debut BBC film as a writer/director, 10 x 10 Applause, about why people clap, has been shown at several film festivals. Author of 2 Piatkus commercial fiction novels and 2 Hamlyn non-fiction books, Stephanie has written for a variety of British magazines and newspapers. Embracing the epublishing revolution, she started Blackbird Digital Books in January 2010 to produce her first ebook, a collection of her Guardian green ‘cleaning guru’ columns, answering readers’ impossible cleaning and stains questions. She now enjoys editing and publishing other authors as well as her own books. She lives in London with her partner and teenage daughter.
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