What do you do with a mob of middle-aged people who will not accept that the fun is over?
I’ve always been a writer of fiction, short and long, sometimes dark and dangerous, but just as often, humorous. I noticed as I got older so did the characters in my works. Then, about six or seven years ago, I came up with the idea of the Sanford 3rd Age Club.
The original idea was for a comic novel about the antics of these born again teenagers, but somewhere along the line, the grumpy Joe Murray became an amateur sleuth, ably assisted by his close friends, Sheila Riley and the Brenda Jump, and the single novel turned into a successful series.
The middle-aged, amateur detective is hardly a new idea, but we never see (or read) of Jane Marple letting her hair down. I wanted to paint the Sanford 3rd Age Club in a different light. I didn’t want them ensconced in comfortable armchairs, knitting woolly mittens for their grandchildren while they pondered the villainy at the community centre Bring & Buy Sale. I didn’t want them watching re-runs of the Sound of Music in a nursing home, or playing bingo on a wet Wednesday afternoon. I wanted these people to be alive.
They never go anywhere without their mobile phones, Kindles and netbook computers.
There’s nothing wrong with the scenarios I’ve just described, but they’ve been done to death. Miss Marple never goes anywhere without her knitting. Joe, Sheila and Brenda never go anywhere without their mobile phones, Kindles and netbook computers.
I wanted these people to be alive.
And while Miss Marple might enjoy a turn around the dance floor to a gentle waltz, the Sanford 3rd Age Club members are more likely to boogie the night away to Abba, Neil Diamond and Queen.
If the Sanford 3rd Age Club were a reality and not simply a figment of my feverish imagination, I’d be a founder member. I’m sixty-five, going on twenty-one. I believe in having fun and I dislike being patronised. I’m short-sighted, but I’ve been like that since I was a child. I am very hard of hearing, but I’m not deaf and I have digital hearing aids, which means you don’t have to shout at me. And when you’re trying to explain a piece of technology to me, don’t assume that my knowhow ends with switching on the kettle.
Technically, I’m disabled (arthritis) but I don’t let that get in my way. I don’t drink, but it’s by choice and not because I’m so old my liver has stopped working. I have breathing difficulties and a minor heart defect, but that’s no reason to break out the first aid box when I sit down to get my breath back.
And please don’t call me ‘sir’. I’m not an officer and I never claimed to be a gentleman.
I appreciate that there are many middle-aged and elderly people who are in need of assistance on many levels, and my sympathies go out to them. But annoyance often overrides my huge sense of humour when people assume I am in that position simply because my hair has gone and my knees click.
It’s true that the Sanford 3rd Age Club has its share of crumblies, but they’re still determined to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of life that they can. Sheila can be funny as well as severe, Brenda can be outrageous as well as sensitive and Joe’s irascibility hides a heart of gold.
Scarborough, one of the locations in the first Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, The Filey Connection.
Their frequent outings take them all over the North of England and as far afield as Weston-super-Mare and Torremolinos. And even if they do stumble across a murder everywhere they go, it’s not the reason they went there.
To paraphrase Arthur Seaton, what they’re out for is a good time.
You can learn more about the individual titles in the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery series at http://www.dwrob.com/the-sanford-3rd-age-club-mysteries-2/. All are available as e-books, and most are available in paperback.