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Pete

Why Pete is #AgeProud

"I don’t think to myself, I can’t do that, I can’t do this. It’s the photographic background, I look at things all the time and I can’t help but do it."

Pete, Leeds, is one of five people that we interviewed for International Day of Older Persons 2019. This is their story.

Pete, in a dark room
Photograph and words by Mark Epstein

It’s an odd one. I can recall hitting 50 and thinking “Bloody hell, 50”. 30 was fine, 40 was fine. 50 was a bit odd and obviously now, I’m about 9 months away from 60 which is very odd indeed.

I’m lucky compared with a greater percentage of people my age – I think people who work within the arts – that could be fine art, drama, writing what have you – they invariably have a much younger outlook on life. Often they behave and look younger than they actually are. There’s a looseness which helps a great deal. People haven’t been put into an envelope at the age of 21 and that’s that.

It’s very difficult coming to grips with knocking on 60, simply because the things I’m interested in, and the things I do, are not things I’d equate with that average age. I also have a peculiarity on my father’s side. I’ve now outlived (and hope to continue outliving) my paternal grandfather and my father. They died at age 53 and 57. A lot to do with being fat and diabetes, it was all about their background. I’m not a sylph-like figure, but I’m not exactly that porky. That’s all to do with work I’ve done on myself for years now.

I work with a great many young people and I find joy in their discovery. I love it when they come across something I’ve been aware of for an awful long time, and they’re cock-a-hoop about it. Say they’re processing film in the darkroom – for a lot of them, this is a really archaic thing. I’ve explained to them how to use a film-based camera and they are absolutely flabbergasted, when we’re developing the film, just by a roll of negatives. Of course for me, it’s familiar territory. They’re flabbergasted and you’re like, yep, that’s photography for you, or at least “old-school” photography, that dreadful term.

I get away with looking somewhat younger than I actually am. I don’t think to myself, I can’t do that, I can’t do this. It’s the photographic background, I look at things all the time and I can’t help but do it, that’s 24/7-365. I’ve never been aware of any bias being shown towards me. It’s never occurred and I hope it doesn’t. I like to think that I’ll still be a fully-fledged, Olympic-standard idiot by the time I hit 80.

#AgeProud

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