Author Archives: Dianne

RUFUS SEGAR – illustrator, anarchist & so much more

Rufus Segar whose illustrations have graced several Third Age Press books, has gone to wherever anarchists go when they die. We have been blessed to have been able to share his talents with our readers and happy to reprint the obituary published by The Guardian in ‘Other Lives’ and written by his son Rupert. This is one of my favourite drawings – I believe it was based on Carol, partner of Rufus’s friend and collaborator, Tony Gibson – for our most popular book ‘On The Tip of Your Tongue’ – and to me shows a mature woman full of energy and purpose. 


Rufus Segar – Illustrator, Artist and Anarchist

My father, who has died at the age of 82, was a designer of books and magazines, including one of the leading anarchist publications of the 1960s.

He was born Patrick Segar in Ipswich, the son of Ethel (nee Bomber) and Eric Segar, a pharmacist and a member of the Magic Circle. As a child, Rufus went to a number of schools as his father set up various ill-starred ventures. Eventually, Rufus took the unusual route of attending two grammar schools 6 miles apart in North Wales: one was Rhyll Grammar for an A-level in Maths; the other was St Asaph for an A-level in Art.

Then, at Liverpool College of Art, Rufus fell in with a group of anarchists and met his wife, Sheila Bullard. Fellow art students called him Rufus because of his abundant red hair and the name stuck.

Rufus followed Sheila to London and began work as a cardboard box designer and moved on to graphic design and layout and became a founding member of the Association of Illustrators, fighting for the rights of artists to retain their artwork.

In 1955, Rufus served three months in Pentonville Prison rather than do national service. As an anarchist, he said he could never obey an order to kill. During his time inside, Rufus was head librarian, made chess sets for the wardens and learned to roll cigarettes one-handed.

In the 1960s, Rufus designed and illustrated the monthly Anarchy magazine.  It was his bold use of colour on the covers that gave the publication prominence. Every issue was an experiment in its own right, capturing the visual excitement of the decade.

Rufus worked for more than 30 years as an illustrator and graphic designer for the Economist Intelligence Unit. However, his greatest love was reserved for the books he illustrated: The Cockney Alphabet, Remember Hythe, and On the Tip of My Tongue, among the many volumes he enriched with his visual wit.

Rufus enjoyed his retirement in both Hythe, Kent and Pershore in Worcestershire. He held a sell-out exhibition of his pictures in Pershore in 2011. In recent years, he fell ill and became increasingly frail.  For the last couple of years he stopped drawing, until, following medical treatment, he began sketching again shortly before his death.

He is survived by Sheila, me, my brothers, BJ and Dan, and two grandchildren, Hannah and Rufus.

Rufus Segar 28th August 1932 – 7th May 2015

Remembering astra

ASTRA BLAUG died peacefully on May 5th. astra, as she preferred to be known, was an artist, photographer, poet, feminist and eternal campaigner. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, among them One Foot on the Mountain, Hard Feelings  and Bread and Roses (Virago). There are also three published collections of her work, fighting words; battle cries and older and bolder. She was born in Manhattan in 1927 and is the mother of two sons. She  lived in London since 1962.

Third Age Press was proud to produce older and bolder and to re-print back you come, mother dear. As a tribute to her visual artistry she insisted on the poems being set in a very particular way which no doubt enhanced the cadence and power of the words but occasionally drove her editor to distraction! The details of how to obtain both books (although there are a limited number of copies still available) can be found by going to our ‘Buy Books’ section and accessing ‘poems’.

back you come, mother dear offers an eloquent elegy to her mother — and act of courage in the face of pain. Here are memories, disagreements, ambivalences, misgivings – and finally forgivings: ‘I wanted her/never to leave/me/that day/any day/ever’ until the time when she ‘cast me out/before I acted on her deepest fear/and left’. Their life together was not easy: the fact of being poor and Jewish in East Coast America and a succession of smaller, cheaper rooms meant that ‘growing up was better in the movies’. In a quiet, cumulative way, this valuable collection gives voice to the complex feelings between mothers and daughters.

City sunshine (is one of her shorter poems that exudes the peace that we hope she’s found)

Julia ageing                                                                                                                                    on park benches                                                                                                                               facing lean and blemished trees                                                                                                    muses on less lonely times

face upturned                                                                                                                                eyes closed                                                                                                                                    she suns herself




My Guilty Pleasures

My father wasn’t a mean man. In fact, the main criticism of him as a politician was that he was too soft. . . . didn’t have the ‘killer instinct’. So he certainly didn’t bring up his children to fear him . . . yet I still, more than 40 years after his untimely death, feel the force of his personality on me. One of his most passionately held beliefs was that there was nothing better in life than working with committed and interesting people on worthwhile projects. Like the motto in a stick of Blackpool rock, I feel that slogan running deep within me.

As he died when he was only 58, I’ve often wondered how he would have coped with retirement or if he would ever have really ‘retired’. One of my brothers suggested that he would have gone back to his roots, bought himself a small piece of land and become a farmer (as generations of his family had been before him) . . .with a well stocked library in his house. But I can’t quite imagine that scenario.

So I have no personal role model for retirement and despite having been professionally involved in the field of retirement and learning for the past 35 years, I can’t quite envisage myself not ‘working’. I’m sure my father would be interested in and very proud of what I do and have been involved in . . . the foundation of the U3A, the creation of Third Age Press (like me, he wouldn’t really have cared about the fact that this enterprise seems singularly to have failed to make money – I too lack the killer instinct!). He would have commended me for having spent every Tuesday (and many other days) for the last 28 years rehearsing for musicals with Wimbledon Light Opera Society – and especially for the 8 years I spent as Chairman – a task which taught me the encompassing value of such local, artistic endeavours and the impact – in so many different ways – that they have on people’s lives.

But it’s the smaller things that we do to fill our time that are vexing me. I find myself feeling guilty for watching television during the day, even for reading a book when it’s not bedtime, or a sunny weekend. That’s another strange thing. I didn’t’ really start work (apart from various odd teaching jobs when my children were young) until I was 40 and then, working, as I did, part-time for both U3A and Age Concern England, I have never held a 5 day-a-week nine-to-five job . . . why on earth am I obsessed about ‘work’ being done Monday to Friday and not on the weekends?

I’ve always been quite a serious, if slow, reader. I read a lot of non-fiction as well as what I suppose are serious novels. So it took me years to allow myself to read ‘thrillers’ and, much to my surprise, I discovered that a lot of these are really very well written. But even so, I still feel the need to ration them . . . saving them up as a treat till I’ve finish some big book on a ‘big’ subject.

But I even have a problem with the ‘big subjects’. I’ve never had a good memory and it’s certainly not getting any better so I find myself wondering why I bother to spend three months reading about the first Afghan War (fascinating, by the way) when I’m not going to remember any of it for long?

And now I’ve joined my local U3A Latin class – which I love (I even love the homework!) – but I find myself asking ‘why am I bothering’? What good is it doing? At my age what’s the use of stuffing my head with all this information that’s just going to expire with me?

I certainly do not want to loosen the grip of my father’s spirit and maybe it’s unfair to blame him for my unease but, as I grow older, I would like to feel more relaxed about relaxing . . . at least I think I would. Or do I get a guilty pleasure from my guilty pleasures?

My Treasure Trove

If I’d been walking through a ploughed field with a metal detector that suddenly went berserk, I couldn’t be more thrilled. What I have actually found (while making a fairly feeble attempt at decumulating . . . something I shall undertake with more enthusiasm in future) was a small, dusty plastic box which contained a very old audio tape which was last accessed over 30 years ago.

I had completely forgotten that in 1977 I had decided to interview my family about their New Years Resolutions, highlights of the year just passed and hopes for the future. For the next 5 years I recorded the voices of my children and immediate family and in-laws and, most fortuitously, we spent one Christmas in Canada so, also on the tape, are my siblings, their spouses and offspring. Even our dog who arrived at Christmas 1977 has a ‘say’. What a priceless cornucopia!

Ironically, it was only a week or so ago I was saying to a friend that I couldn’t remember my mother’s voice . . . now I have it, with all its warmth and wit and the bonus of her being in conversation with my children.

In the same cache I also found a lengthy recording made by my father at Christmas 1970 – scarcely 18 months before his untimely death – sitting in the living room of the home in which I spent most of my youth, describing in minute detail the scene around him . . . the Christmas tree, the gifts (who gave what to whom), the dog and the comings and goings of my younger brothers. Later, when everyone, including old friends, were assembled for Christmas dinner, he let the tape run on so it is almost as if I were there sharing the argument about whether his spicy tomato juice and shrimp cocktail – with which we always started the festive meal and about which I had completely forgotten – was spicier than the one made by his friend.

Tape recorders sadly seem to be a thing of the past. We now record things on our phones and, I know, you can email the recordings and, I assume, keep them on your computer or  ‘burn’ them onto a disk but would we do that in the same way that I used my ‘walkman’ sized recorder?  I’m encouraging my children to start recording their children before it’s too late and those voices suddenly change into adults. Maybe we could provoke a resurrection of the humble audio-tape.

The Red Hat Society

Red Hat logo copyThe Red Hat Society has many local branches throughout the UK but the HQ of the organisation is in the USA  – from where you can get UK local details but you can also find information on local groups from the British RedHatters

To be a “RED HATTER” you must be over 50 years of age.  “Over fifty and fabulous” that is what we say about ourselves.  We welcome all ladies to do what we do – “LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH”.  That is the motto of the RED HATTERS.  We are ladies with “HATTITUDE”!!!  It is so much fun for us to don our purple outfits and red hats and go to lunch, the movies, picnic on the beach, the zoo or just wherever our hearts decide to go and watch people watch us.  Nothing makes people smile like a group of ladies in purple and red hats out enjoying themselves.   Look,” they laugh and point – “the Red Hatters are out today”.  Nothing attracts attention more than a fine red hat!

Age of Creativity

Age of CreativityAge of Creativity is an online platform to share, celebrate and inspire work in the field of arts and older people.

We believe everyone has an inner artist whatever their age. Sometimes this will be about continuing a lifelong interest in or even career in the arts, for others older age may represent the first opportunity to develop creative pursuits.

Age of Creativity aims to foster collaboration and discussion between practitioners, facilitators, artists and organisations through showcasing pioneering work and providing a shared space to exchange ideas, opportunities and resources.

Age of Creativity is now curated by Miranda Laurence from Age UK Oxfordshire. You can contact Miranda about anything regarding the site on

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Third Age Press now on Kindle

Six of our publications are now available on Kindle

500 BEACONS: THE U3A STORY: we are pleased to announce that  the definitive history of the U3A in the UK written by founder, Dr Eric Midwinter, is now available on Kindle. First published in 2004, but now out of print, the Kindle edition has been updated to 2014.  KINDLE £4.99

BRITAIN’S STORY: an overview of British History by Eric Midwinter – KINDLE £2.80

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO FALL IN LOVE: an anthology of short stories by and about thirdagers – KINDLE £3.80

NOVEL APPROACHES: a guide to the popular classical novel by Eric Midwinter- KINDLE £3.80

ON THE TIP OF YOUR TONGUE: YOUR MEMORY IN LATER LIFE – by Dr Tony Gibson – our best seller for many years and still very relevant. (also available as a ‘print yourself’ PDF) £5.49

THE COLLECTIVE AGE 1850 ~ 1950: The Rise and Fall of a Fairer Society – an important and impressive social history by Dr. Eric Midwinter   KINDLE £8.00

Hadley Freeman says, ‘Upper arms are the latest obsession’. To sculpt or not to sculpt?


Bingo Wings600

I hereby announce the official launch of the ‘Campaign for the Freedom of Bingo Wings’. Of course we need a catchy slogan . . . something like ‘Flap your bingo wings and fly away’? Seriously though, with the advent of global warming I think the world should get ready for older women becoming increasingly ‘cool’.  Why should we suffer in the summer just because other people don’t like what they see?  If the fashion industry continues to produce the most colourful and attractive tops without sleeves, why shouldn’t we wear them? There is no reason why older women should be made to feel that their ample underarms are not acceptable other than that other people – other younger people – don’t like them. Tough!  Perhaps bingo wings are too powerful a reminder of what awaits the young. But think about it. They’re not doing any harm. They’re not contagious. So why should we feel ashamed or embarrassed? The problem lies with the beholder, not us. And it’s so sexist!

As Katherine Whitehorn wrote in The Guardian (06.07.06) under the title Old Age Exposed: ‘ . . . in Italy, a few years ago, some eccentric man suggested that older women should be banned from going topless on the beach, on the grounds that they looked awful – what he got, as I recall, was the appropriate response from women that men with pot bellies should not appear, on the beach or anywhere else, ever, in swimming trunks.’

So flout your bingo wings – or whatever you fancy – with pride.

From ‘The Seven Signs of Ageing’ by Dianne Norton in ‘Defining Women’

Drawing by Maggie Guillon

Robert Redford looks great . . . FOR 76!

I have no idea how old Matt Mueller (‘In Conversation: Redford’ inFilm3Sixty distributed by The Observer) is but surely he ought to know better. I was pondering a still from the forthcoming re-make of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and thinking that Leonard deCaprio wasn’t a patch on Redford in the original – when it occurred to me that he did bear a certain resemblance to the smouldering Robert. I then turned the page and came face to face with a stunning black and white photo of Redford, in every wrinkle, as he is now.

My first reaction was that Robert Redford is, was and always will be, a beautiful man . . . so imagine my chagrin? fury? when I read the interview and come across ‘Robert Redford looks great for 76, healthy and hearty etc etc . . . ‘

NO he doesn’t look great for 76 – he just looks great!

When will journalists ever learn what damage they do by not resisting the impulse to add that irrelevant phrase?