Age is a funny thing. The Hartlepool Mail did a follow up article on the project’s progress. I obliged , mentioning the singer Marion Davies and ex Mayoress Betty Brotherston.

On the one hand it’s good to know people read this stuff, and on the other it’s a reminder of;
a. how facts can get a mixed up when relayed over the phone and
b. how sensitive people can be to detail.

Marion was described as being in her 80’s. Her cousin sent her the newspaper cutting from Hartlepool down to Deal where she now lives. Marion rang me the next day. She was not amused;

“I’m not in my eighties” she corrected me (I hadn’t said she was).. “I am eighty – and people say I look much younger!”

Technically speaking, you could therefore say she is in her eighties but I didn’t labour the point.

Meanwhile Betty had been in touch with the paper as, having also seen the article, her daughter had sent it on. Tracy, the reporter, contacted me soon after and said Betty had rang, a little concerned that she had been described as being 86 (not sure where that number had come from) and that she really had to set the record straight as she was in fact 91. Tracy had apologised and placated her by saying they would do a follow up setting the record straight.

I wondered why anyone would want to be older and assumed there was a certain pride in longevity. I dimly recollect my own grandparents going through the obituaries and them gleaning a certain satisfaction from outlasting many of their friends and acquaintances. It struck me as odd at the time, but I have since discovered they were not alone in consoling themselves with this macabre reverse race to the finish line.

I felt a little responsible, as I had been the one to initially put Betty in the glare of publicity, and hoped it hadn’t caused her too much grief. Next time I saw her I duly apologised for the mix up;

“I heard you were a bit upset by the article” I said

“oh no not upset really” she said

“it was just my daughter you know – she said mum you really must tell them they have got that wrong – if people do the math they will think you had me when you were fourteen!”

Must admit that slant hadn’t occurred to me.

On a more poignant and poetic note; our dress rehearsal for the main dance event took place on Thursday with a stream of people coming and going. It was the first time I had seen everyone in their costumes, and, due to the range of ages and abilities, not everyone was there for the whole day. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. The six formers have their slot – but also interact with the care home residents. The young carers came later and are augmented by a few volunteers from the dance group… just in case they lose the plot a bit on the day. They all looked fab.

I had a polecam and operator booked for the day. It was definitely a good move. The ability of a polecam to swoop from ground level up to balcony height made for some beautiful shots. I was particularly wanting to use it to add another perspective (quite literally) to the contribution from those who are less mobile and who will be seated or in wheelchairs.

Looking back at what we shot, it’s hard not to get a lump in your throat when you see their performance, sedentary though they are, whilst the camera soars above them emphasising their immobility, and yet also conveying their indomitable soaring spirits.

The polecam’s ability to sneak a peek (it has a relatively small lens) , where a more conventional camera would be too obtrusively close, managed to steal moments from this real life situation that have a cinematic, almost scripted appearance.

Tomorrow is the big day. I shall be wearing my bow tie, and four of us will endeavour to capture the occasion and do justice to everyone’s hard work.