Two Authors in Search of an Audience

Authors: Caroline Lodge, Eileen Carnell

Stage manager: Marian Lennon

And an audience of hundreds

Place and date premiered: Drury Lane, London. Thursday 12th March 2015

Setting: The foyer of City Lit and room 508



Eileen made her way down Drury Lane on a lovely sunny afternoon. She had been attending courses at City Lit for the last 50 years – from movement, speech and drama to art, calligraphy and writing. Her favourite class had been Acapella singing and it was there she had sung with Marian Lennon who was a member of staff at City Lit and whose idea this event was. Eileen was excited about her new role of co-author and meeting up with Caroline to sell their book and promote their course*.

161 City Lit1Meanwhile Caroline and Marian had prepared the stage. A massive table in the foyer had been laid out with the books, posters and flyers – all in bright red and yellow it looked really eye-catching. The backdrop was a huge electronic display of the book – very impressive. The only concern had been whether the props would arrive on time but phew Retiring with Attitude published by The Guardian had arrived.

Act one: The foyer of City Lit

161 CityLit 2Excited crowds gathered to talk with the authors and declare they had either retired last week, last year or were just about to. Some spoke about the joys of retirement and that were having the time of their lives. Books started selling. Caroline and Eileen were thrilled at all the interest.

Act two: room 508

Five characters turned up to meet the authors: Jenny who had been part time for the last year, Anne who was experiencing the slowest retiring period in history, James a novice retiree who teaches as a sideline occupation, Ashley who was looking for strong role-models and Veronica who wondered if she needs to work for a further seven years. Key themes emerged: considering the process of retiring over time, the concept of retiring zones and the importance of belonging to at least three communities in order to flourish, being busy and finding purpose, making your mind up to retire, the importance of singing to bring joy to one’s life, finding resources within ourselves and outside.

Act three: The foyer of City Lit

This photo was taken at a quiet moment!

This photo was taken at a quiet moment!

More crowds of enthusiastic people, more smiling, more selling and signing. More retiring stories: working in the community, political activity, attending courses, living with loss, writing novels, jewelry making. Bustling atmosphere and movement.

Act four: room 508

Five new characters: June, a novice retiree, Timothy who had set his retiring date, Belinda who was considering her options, and Mary and Fiona who were thinking about retiring. The main themes were worry about the loss of identity in retirement, taking control of one’s life, stopping running around like a headless chicken, the importance of inter-generational living, the role of ‘carer’ in the family, maintaining self-esteem after work, where to live and rolling in the hay!


101 RWA pile19 books were sold during the day. Two men had signed up already for the one-day course in June and many more people said they were going to apply. At the end of the afternoon one person came back to show how much of the book she had already read! She was beaming. Caroline, Eileen and Marian were delighted.


Really useful and fascinating.

That really cheered me up.

It was nurturing.

The ‘Attitude’ is great.

This is really a good thing that you are doing.

Brilliant marketing to be here at City Lit for this perfect demographic.

The themes are so relevant.

Although the groups seemed on the small side it was richer for those who came.

I found the session very helpful, inspiring and timely.

The course at City Lit is PG732 Retiring with Attitude, on Saturday 6th June 2015, 10.30 – 16.30 at City Lit, Keeley Street, Covent Garden, London WC2B 4BA. On-line details can be found here.

101 RWA coverRetiring with Attitude: approaching and relishing your retirement by Caroline Lodge and Eileen Carnell (2014) published by Guardian. Available from the Guardian Bookshop (at reduced price) and all good bookshops.

Thanks to Eileen Carnell who was the guest blogger for this post.


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Filed under Books, Learning, Publishing our book, Writing

9 Responses to Two Authors in Search of an Audience

  1. Julia South

    I am so grateful to you and Eileen. I had stumbled into retirement and was not finding it easy, when I chanced upon Retiring with Attitude. I have always turned to books to guide me through tricky times, but until then I had not found anything that identified the issues I was grappling with let alone addressed them. I devoured your book. It addressed so many of my concerns and with such insight and optimism. I’ve recommended it to many people.

    The course at the City Lit sounds great, but I live in Sheffield so it would be quite an undertaking to come. I’m also thinking of other people up here who could really do with a context in which to explore what retirement means to them. I’ve recently joined the Sheffield U3A and have had the idea of starting a U3A group/course that would be inspired by Retiring with Attitude. I have experience of adult teaching and facilitation and would really enjoy running something like this, and I’d learn a lot too. But before developing the idea any further I just wanted to ask you and Eileen whether this would be OK with you. Obviously, I’ll not make any money out of it, and it will promote your book, but please let me know what you think.

    Very best wishes

    PS – interested that Eileen’s been attending courses at the City Lit for fifty years. I come from London and my Dad worked at the City Lit for 26 years (up till 1984), ending up as the Principal. So it was always a bit of a home from home for me.

    • Caroline

      Hi Julia, you are our ideal reader. Thank you so much for your comments about Retiring with Attitude, and I am so pleased you found that the book addressed so many of your concerns. We got a great deal of insight about retiring from our retiring group and from researching and writing the book.
      We would be delighted if you did somthing for people in Sheffield area that looked at the topics we explored in Retiring with Attitude. (Our own courses and coaching informed a many of the stories in RWA). U3A seems a good place to start.
      And especially happy if you sell more copies of the book! (Only kidding.) Writing books does not provide us with much income (we share it anyway), but rather it allows us to spread good ideas to other people and get into dialogue with them. Go for it.
      If you could make it to London on 6th June it would be good to see you there. And City Lit, despite being in new premises, would still seem like home.
      Let us know how you get on.

  2. Eileen

    What a brilliant idea to start a U3A group inspired by Retiring with Attitude. Good luck with that Julia. So pleased that you have found the book useful.
    All very best wishes,

  3. Julia South

    Thank you both so much – I really appreciate your generosity. I do think you’ve opened up a whole new approach to thinking about and ‘doing’ retirement and it’s wonderful that you’re happy for others, like me, to spread the word.
    I plan to get going with my course/group in the autumn. Will let you know how it goes. In the meantime I’ll keep plugging the book!
    All best

  4. marian lennon

    A great day at City Lit with lots of interest and takers for your upcoming workshop in June. We also had an enquiry from a County Council interested to offer their staff some pre-retirement preparation – they bought a copy of the book for their Chief Exec who retires next month precisely because it offers something different from the usual pension and investment advice.
    Thank you Caroline & Eileen for coming to City Lit and we look forward to hosting your workshop in June – clearly you are tapping into a growing need… I’m at the chrysalis stage!
    See you in June for more of the same I hope.
    p. s. And I bought the book for 2 friends who’ve just retired – it was gratefully received especially when I directed them to Chapter 7: Could-you-just?
    Good luck with spreading the word
    All the best,
    Marian Lennon
    City Lit Tutor co-ordinator: Psychology, Counselling & Personal development

    • Caroline

      Thanks Marian. We appreciated your preparations and company. Good to see you promoting the book with your friends too.

  5. Julia South

    Hi Eileen and Caroline
    I just wanted to let you know that the Learning to Be Retired course (based on your wonderful book) that I ran through the Sheffield U3A this autumn was a great success. 12 lively and engaged people signed up (11 women & 1 man) and attendance at the 6 sessions was virtually 100%, so the content was clearly striking a real chord. I got some lovely comments in the anonymous evaluation at the end. Things like: ‘before coming on the course I felt very down about being retired. I didn’t even use the word retired. I felt in a ‘no man’s land’. I wasn’t working but not old enough to get my pension. From the course I am now able to use the word retired and feel the confidence to enjoy life.’ Or ‘I was giving all my time to my family and began to wonder what I could do for myself. This course made me realise there are things I can do. I just need to branch out for them.’ I’m running it again in January and have already recruited the group. Huge thanks again for writing the book and for wishing me well in creating my own course based on it.
    Warmest wishes

    • Caroline

      Thank you so much for letting us know about your success. It is always pleasing when you hear that a book helps people in life, and it seems that your mediation has done that. Good luck with the next course. Please report again!

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