Agony aunt, journalist and author, Virginia Ironside, brings her new show Growing Old Disgracefully to the South Holland Centre next week.
We recently caught up with Virginia to chat about her career and the upcoming performance:
As a rock columnist for the Daily Mail in the 1960s, what is your most memorable experience of being at the heart of the action?
It’s a cliché, but one of the problems of being young in the ’60s is that you really don’t remember much of it. I know I interviewed The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix but I can’t remember doing them. I recently came across an article when I toured with The Byrds, and there I am with Paul McCartney and Chris Farlowe… but can I remember?
It was also an anxious time to be a woman. The pill had arrived, which created confusion about how things should be. But it was also an exciting time. My mother was Professor of Fashion at The Royal College of Art and discovered Ossie Clark, but to me, at the time, this was just normal life and not remarkable at all.
So how did you go from being a rock columnist to becoming one of the UK’s much loved agony aunts (The Independent & The Oldie)?
I was depressed when I was young. My mother was an alcoholic and I was a mini-carer from the word go so I do feel comfortable looking after people. I’ve had a lot of therapy over the years and think it’s good to get things out. I like to help other people where I can.
As an established author and journalist, what made you decide to take the leap onto the stage?
Having written many books I was often invited to attend literary festivals where I would stand up and talk and soon discovered that I could easily make people laugh, so I thought ‘why don’t I do my own show?’. Then I bumped into Nigel Planer, he agreed to direct me and take the show to Edinburgh. It’s acceptable for an older person to do ‘Granny stand-up’; a younger person couldn’t get away with it. We have a thoroughly good time.
The title of your show, Growing Old Disgracefully, has a rather rebellious ring to it – what can the audience expect on the night?
There’s lots of observational comedy and I like to talk about the advantages of being old. I think there’s too much written about the miserable side of ageing and it’s not all like that. I do touch a little on death, and of course grandchildren – so you could say ‘tears and laughter’. Lots of laughter!
Finally, will you be confessing to any level of disgraceful behaviour yourself?
No! We can all laugh about growing old disgracefully but I do loathe disgraceful behaviour. You know the Jenny Joseph poem, When I am an Old Woman I shall wear Purple, talking about sitting in the gutter and spitting – well that’s not me at all.
Virginia Ironside brings her Growing Old Disgracefully show to the South Holland Centre on Thursday, June 11 at 8pm. Tickets are £12.50, £11.50 concessions from the South Holland Centre Box Office 01775 764777 or online www.southhollandcentre.co.uk