I was drawing Dame Joan Bakewell this week - one of the presenters of the Sky Arts Portrait of the Week show- and as I was sketching, I became mindful of how unforgiving charcoal can be as a medium to depict strong individuals of advancing years. It somehow lacks paint's versatility to soften lines and wrinkles.
And it got me thinking, how old is Joan?
So I checked it out.
How old do you think she is?
I reckoned late 60s, early 70s at a push.
Well, in fact, she's 87.
And she spent 9 weeks during lockdown presenting live to thousands of people on Facebook, cheerfully grappling with technology and all the hiccups that inevitably occurred with that.
If ever there was an example that we are never too old, Joan is it.
And it's a great reminder to be wary of the labels we give to ourselves and others: I'm too old...too young...too scared...too disorganised...too shy...too stressed...
Labels put up barriers and stop us (and others) doing the things we really want to. Because generally they apply to one part of our lives, but not to the rest. Joan may be physically old - that's a fact - but her mental and creative abilities are clearly still razor sharp.
There's a saying that labels are for jars, not for people. Next time you go to use one, consider the impact it may have. Change the way you refer to yourself and others- and notice the difference it makes.