Three years ago the Bafta-nominated screenplay writer and novelist Deborah Moggach fell in love. The fact she was 62 felt immaterial. What did feel important and continues to do so is how “teenaged” this new relationship has made her.
“That’s the surprising thing,” she says as quoted in Express. “One is still a teenager: my emotions have remained exactly the same. Will he ring? Will he put more than one ‘x’ on his text? Is that pinging email from him? What shall I wear?”
But while Deborah, now 65, may not have changed much on the inside over the years she says our collective perception of what the over-60s are about has altered – and to everyone’s benefit. She says that her younger self could not imagine women over 60 falling in love because they tended to “look so ancient”.
“If I even thought about them at all – which was unlikely because they seemed so past it – my perceptions were of beige cardigans, perms and sensible shoes. You certainly couldn’t imagine them elephant trekking in Nepal or having any fun at all. That has changed hugely,” she said yesterday.
The subject of love – and emotional vitality – in later life is one she explored to critical acclaim in her 2005 novel These Foolish Things, which was adapted into last year’s successful film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
In this, the character played by 76-year-old Judi Dench embarked on an exciting new relationship with 61-yearold Bill Nighy’s character.
The subject of older lives fully lived is one she has returned to in her latest novel Heartbreak Hotel. She says it features “lots of undignified middle-aged sex; botched sex, if not hot sex”.
She says her generation – the baby boomers – are reinventing ageing and there is now a tremendous market for entertainment which shows that the “big raft” of time from the age of 65 is no longer just about “impending death”.
Moggach insists that films and books for older people should reflect this new reality.
“Whatever our age, we still have the same hopes, joys, jealousies, passions as we always did, same everything – you’re just a bit more wrinkly.
Older people increasingly are structuring their romantic relationships in ways that would not have been acceptable in the past.
“A degree of independence keeps things fresh and exciting,” she adds. “Yes, I’ve got wrinkles but the nice thing about my chap is that he doesn’t mind wrinkles. He likes slim but wrinkles don’t present a problem, which shouldn’t as he has plenty,” she laughs, admitting that although she “did Botox” before meeting him she “got tired of it because it was so expensive”.
She believes a life lived on your own terms is one of the greatest benefits of being 60-plus in this millennium. “We are all having a lot more fun and exploring new aspects of ourselves post-children and often post-marriage,” she says.
“In our youth we were defined by those roles but today we are finished with parenthood, work and even marriage. We are flexing different muscles we didn’t know we had. This phase of life offers a huge opportunity to redefine yourself.”
She believes “retirement” could be renamed “liberation”.
“My age group were the children of the Sixties, we have reinvented the world as we have passed through it. I hope we are also reinventing old age. We certainly don’t feel like the over-65s. We have a big chunk of life ahead of us and we should tackle it positively rather than thinking being 60-plus puts you in God’s waiting room.
“The truth is that you can always fall in love and have another life and that’s thrilling.”
What do you think of Deborah’s story?