1. Sixty Somethings recounts the lives of 67 women born shortly after the last war. The generation has been hailed as unique, remarkable, and keen to break with tradition. Now, in the autumn of our years, most of us are still creative and energetic. Writing about our lives seemed a worthwhile thing to do.
2. The Sixties was a key period in our lives. Our teenage and early adult years were exciting times although they weren’t all about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. More of us than before went to university and we were full of ideas and convinced we would change the world.
3. For the first time ever we, as young people, had a culture of our own. Music of many genres, written and performed by our generation, and telling the world what we thought, was a key feature of the time. Our clothes also attested to our identity. I still look wistfully at my white leather mini-skirt hanging hopefully in my wardrobe.
4. I have always enjoyed finding out about the details of everyday lives. As a child I used to conduct mini-surveys of my friends and families. My first research project during my primary years was investigating whether loo rolls were used up more quickly in our upstairs or downstairs lavatory.
5. The events, both trivial and significant, of my own life are also well charted. I have kept a daily diary for every single day of my life since the age of nine. It is a useful reference document although there is now rather a lot to wade through. Its contents are, however, for my eyes only.
6. My family has had a big influence on my interests in social research. Both my parents were sociologists and helped shape my ideas about social life and the nature of evidence. My uncle, Charles Madge, was one of the founders of Mass Observation in the 1930s that tracked people’s everyday lives through peacetime and war. I have picked up his baton in my current project that looks at older people’s reactions and experiences during lockdown.
7. Similarities and differences across generations have always interested me. The Sixty Something women saw themselves as very different from their grandmothers in both what they did and what they thought. I am now wondering if my own young granddaughter will have similar things to say about me in years to come.
8. Writing has always been a key part of who I am. I wrote very long stories as a child, produced many academic books and articles throughout my career, and I’m still going. Recently, however, I have also had a go with a novel and (hopefully) wry poems about the human condition.
9. The countryside is a wonderful inspiration for ideas. I live in a rural setting and go for long walks most days. Often I come home with a new idea for something I’m writing. As I’m usually with my partner, and don’t take a notepad, my best thoughts do unfortunately sometimes get forgotten.
10. The journey is important. Most of the time I take pleasure in what I do for its own sake. The destination is a bonus. So while I have found it fascinating talking to the Sixty Somethings and telling their stories, it will be all the more worthwhile if readers too enjoy what they have to say.