Jeune Pritchard – Musings on being 70



What does it feel like to be 70 these days ?

I think it’s utterly different, unbelievably different from my mum being 70. Oh I’d probably say what everybody else says, you never ever think you are going to be 70 years old. It seems like a long working life. I remember being the youngest person in the office and now I’m the oldest. I’m probably the oldest person working in ABC TV, well as a woman anyway. I had a bit of apprehension about turning 70, Oh holy shit this is going to be terrible…… but in a weird way it feels liberating, and I can’t even tell you why it feels liberating. Its alright, its OK you know, I like it, nothing’s changed … one knee creaks a bit, that’s it. I’ve got lines and my hair’s grey. I feel as much as you can be, pretty accepting of myself. Its that weird thing that you are still working, from when I started working I would never ever, not that I thought I would ever retire, its just that you never think you are going to live till your 70 and I’m 70 and I’m working, and I don’t think that’s so odd, that’s all.

Because people who are now 50 and 60 may well work till they are 70, and they probably never envisaged they’d do it either. It seems fine. I’m not wearing elastic topped pants and white polyester, or anything. I do like to think that I don’t look like mutton dressed as lamb. My mother loathed women who were mutton dressed as lamb. You have a greater ease with the clothes you wear and how you are in the world and with people you work with, although, I do think the blokes think it’s a bit odd, even blokes I like a lot, and I’ve known for years who work in the same industry. I do think they think it’s a bit odd a woman of 70 working, they laugh and joke and all that but I do think they think it’s a bit odd someone as old as me is still working.

These are guys with feminist wives, and all of that, its not even a discomfort, I feel at ease enough with some old blokes that I work with, I’m not sure maybe they do feel a slight discomfort, maybe its because their mothers didn’t work.

I think young women have a different attitude now to what I would have when I was working in my 20’s. The young women I work with who are in their early or late 20’s they don’t see it as particularly odd that they work with a woman who is 70, they just don’t.

Do you think that some of these young women look at you as some sort of style inspiration?

Well you know I’m as old as their parents, and I think kids are easier about it, these kids are easier about it than I would have been when I was 23 or 25 working with some old sheila. I’m older than the baby boomers I’m at the far end and there is a whole bunch of those women and men who are still working and look great and who haven’t lost their minds or become casualties to drugs or booze there is a tidal wave of these people coming through and I’m just a bit ahead of that.

I remember I was the first woman in my group to go through menopause, I went through menopause at 50, I mean it was like Germaine (Greer) hadn’t even written anything about it by then, I mean Germaine’s even older than me, what is she, about 74 or 75, and she was such a fabulous inspiration for me and for women my age and your age..yes

You know to buy what you like and wear clothes that are different to anything else is delightful, I like it .

Does it give you the shits though that an entire industry doesn’t see us and see us a worthy of a conversation?

 Oh it doesn’t even give me the shits, I just think it’s a huge missed opportunity that’s all. I think its madness that big fashion houses or big cosmetic brands, or whatever are doing what they are doing now, they see that these are women, who if they have had kids, the kids are gone and they are grandmas or something now but they still want to look great and they still look good and they have money and they want to travel, they don’t want to go to Top Shop and they probably don’t want to go to Zara and buy stuff the kids are buying, so they should be turning out fashion for women my age because…………….. I thought my mum was pretty stylish in her way coming from a small town in New Zealand but she wasn’t running around in elastic topped pants and stuff but its still very different, it is.

There is just an ease wearing what you want to wear, there just is. There is something rather terrific about it. If I had a lot of money, would I go and have a face-lift or anything like that? I sort of rejoice in not having gone and done that, and that I’m not particularly fat, its OK, it is more than OK . You lose all of that stupid insecurity you have in your 20’s when you’re in competition with everyone at that age and you have a million insecurities but now I don’t think shit, I can’t do that because you know I’ve been a journalist and a producer all these years. I’ve built up a reasonable body of knowledge, you sort of know how to do it.

I guess I didn’t think ahead to know how much I would like working with young women and there are some great young blokes where I work, its mostly young women who are doing all the work as producers, researchers or journalists and they are terrific and I learn a huge amount from them. I delegate a lot so they learn and you learn and you make your own mistakes but you always know something is going to be delivered, you have confidence, that’s all. I learn heaps from these kids too and that’s pretty good.

I’ve liked my friends getting older, I like that, I don’t know if you still feel competitive, but you do think ‘Oh she looks like shit’ or ‘why doesn’t she do something with her hair or something’ or ‘she got fat’ or ‘you know she shouldn’t wear that dress’, but there’s something fabulously collegiate about having known other women, but blokes too, but particularly women, who you have known for 30 or 40 years there is something terrific about that isn’t there? Maybe its all down hill from 70 I don’t know, it might be, it doesn’t feel like it is right now, but if you get sick or loose your mind they are all terrible things or you get desperately ill, and that’s an end too isn’t it?

I think about death a whole lot, not in a particularly morbid way, I don’t, but I think I got cancer, what, ten years ago and it wasn’t particularly awful or horrible in that way even a cold can feel worse than that. It is a bit of a brush with mortality and knowing if I hadn’t done anything I would have died but I think it slightly shifts your perspective and you just want to take a bit more care of yourself and don’t take life for granted, I don’t.

I want to be confident, I want to be bold, you don’t want to be timid, you don’t want to hide your feelings about the political or social you don’t want to be timid about how you are in the world and I think when you get to 70 and I think what’s good about being 70 in the working world you sort of judge where you are and yeah, I guess I don’t feel timid about any of that………………..

I don’t worry that if the show ended at the end of the year……….. I would just come and live on the farm and go back to school…no regrets? Oh yeah about bad behaviour oh yeah I’ve got regrets about bad behaviour why was I such a dumb arse, but I can’t do anything about that, its not to make up for bad behaviour but I don’t want to repeat the bad behaviour. For Christ sake I must have learnt something in the 70 years.


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Comments 4

  1. I remember your mum well, she was my mums closest friend back in NZ, we lived 1 house down from you, she was a wonderful inspiring lady who always had time for me as a kid, I spent may hours in your kitchen just yakking, fond memories

  2. is this the same Jeune who predicted that Keefe Richard wouldn’t be alive at 70, begging your Miss, he’s still takin Care of Bizness ¡¡

  3. I know just what you mean, jeune. I didn’t
    Stop full time work till I was 72. I had forgotten about age and no one reminded me or pushed me. Well, one person did ask because they wanted my job, but it told them to bugger off.

    Clothes? I am not really interested, but I do refuse to dress old. Being a bit of an old hippie slapper, with a lot of bushie and some dag thrown comes naturally.

    I love my friends, and jeune has taught me a lot. Remaining game as a pissant is one. I wish I could cook like her.

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