Play on


On my way to a see a coaching client this morning, I heard the beginning of Desert Island Discs on BBC R4. The guest was Dame Fanny Waterman, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. A potential concert pianist herself, she instead started the Leeds piano competition – now world renowned. By the sound of her, she is quite a force to be reckoned with, still teaching masterclasses and, by her own admission, a ‘busy breeches’ who can’t leave the finer details of organising the annual Leeds event to others.

“You don’t stop working because you grow old, you grow old because you stop working.”

Sadly, I didn’t have time to listen to the whole programme, but it’s available via the BBC website. (And if you like classical piano, you’ll love her choices.)

Dame Fanny’s words struck a chord (if you’ll pardon the pun). I watched a programme only last week about the longevity of rock stars from the 60s who are still doing gigs and tours now (think Mick Jagger singing ‘Let’s spend the night together’ at 67 …). I read an article about Rod Stewart who is still going strong at 65 and heard Francis Rossi of Status Quo in a radio interview yesterday promoting his solo album. (Quite a career when you consider he was in his first band aged 12.)

I believe the days of ‘retirement age’ are long gone. If you love what you do, and have the physical/mental health to carry on doing the work, why should anyone tell you to stop? I have an aunt of the same vintage as Dame Fanny Waterman (actually a bit older), who was trained as a classical pianist. She still plays at every opportunity and has done since she was 4 or 5.

So what’s in the diary for your 90th birthday, all being well? Hope there’ll be some singing and dancing.


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