Quick & Quirky Questions with Mary Irvine

Mary Irvine, aged 76. Mary is one of Autumn Voices’ most regular contributors.

Tell us 4 important facts about yourself:

I drifted into a career in education rather than planning to. I became Head of Compensatory Education in Senior High and then moved to teach A-Level English and oversee S.E.N. in a Sixth Form College. I took a year’s leave of absence to teach EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in Athens. I was offered the post of Head of Language School and eventually moved to a small island. I returned to the UK and am now retired and living near Loch Lomond.

What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why?

Possibly my forties when I was given many opportunities to start a ‘new life’. A whole new, exciting world opened up for me. I had so many experiences I never imagined would be open to me. And I was able to follow my own path.

Who is your favourite fictional character over 60?

Santiago in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Such a powerfully drawn character – maybe it showed the strength of Hemingway’s writing as I was with that ‘Old Man’ all the way.

You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you?

This made me think about the night I was alerted by a bang on the door. (I had failed to notice the flashing red light outside.) It was a fireman telling me he needed to check out the chimney breast in my flat. Smoke was billowing from the chimney and a neighbour had called the fire brigade! As I have never put much value on ‘stuff’ I decided I would grab all my memory sticks. The thought of trying to recall all that work . . .

What’s your favourite creative pastime?

Mmm . . . Depends on my mood. I always have different things running in parallel: writing, knitting, embroidery, making rag rugs . . .

Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected:

As a practising Christian – at the time – I went to a Church College as I wanted to become a missionary! Also:
Appearing in a staff revue at the sixth form college in a basque and fishnet stockings.
Climbing onto a table in a Greek bar to dance.
Demonstrating a pole dance.

Tell us three ways that you are still active:

Walking, though not the miles I once did. Tai chi and martial arts as much as I can.

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