A Grey Panther

Today’s image is one that was shot and printed in 1966, over half a century ago. It was one of the very first times I used a darkroom while I was an undergraduate at Cambridge University. Many of you will recognize the unmistakable facade of King’s College Chapel.

At that time I was one year into my medical training: a six-year course to obtain the necessary qualifications to be permitted to work as a Doctor. And to work in a particular speciality (including General Practice) took a minimum of another three years. A long haul.

I’m in reflective mood for two reasons. Firstly, earlier this month I reached 70 – my three score and ten – a milestone I would prefer to ignore, as it inevitably raises the concept of  additional years being time added on for good behaviour.

Secondly, the latest issue of CAM (the Cambridge Alumni Magazine) clattered through our finger-biting letterbox earlier this month. It’s a magazine I tend to skim through rather than read, but I was attracted to one particular article titled: ‘On Age’.

‘On Age’ was an article that asked a question: ‘What is it really like to work beyond the normal span?’ and provided answers from four Alumni.

The very first sentence of the article set the scene: ‘Forget the slippers, give up your idea of a quiet cottage by the sea and prepare to release your inner grey panther.’ And a few lines down there was a quote from one of the contributors, Historian Roderick Braithwaite: ‘We are not all automatically extinct the moment we reach 65 and there must be many of us who are continuing to ‘produce’ way into the so-called grey panther stage.

I am retired from Medicine – and therefore I’m not actually ‘in work’ – but I still have a desire to ‘produce’ as Roderick Braithwaite phrases it. Not simply for the end result, but because I relish a challenge and I enjoy working on projects and ideas. Which is why I produce this blog and why I continue to speak at camera Clubs occasionally. Somebody once said or wrote that inside every Scientist there is an Artist waiting to escape. The space and pace of retirement finally provided the opportunity for  my artistic interests to evolve.

Thomas Carlyle (Scottish philosopher, essayist, satirist and historian) wrote that ‘A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.’

I am delighted to say that I am neither extinct nor rudderless. I am happy to declare that I am a Grey Panther, and long may my Grey Panther state continue.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'.
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27 Responses to A Grey Panther

  1. Chillbrook says:

    A lovely post Andy and very many happy returns.This is a great blog and I’m so glad the artist inside the scientist has finally been given the freedom that the artist deserves to explore his creativity. Long may it continue!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alan frost says:

    Congratulations Andy on your three score and ten and on being a ‘Grey Panther’. I thoroughly enjoy your images and your words and I do hope the creative artist in you will be around for many years to come. A belated Happy Birthday!


  3. Happy birthday, Andy, and welcome to the club. Keep going!


  4. Sue says:

    Congrats on the three score and ten, Andy, and here’s to tons more great images from an arty scientist!


  5. paula graham says:

    Andy, may your grey panther stage be long and productive. Wonderful positive post with a beautifully framed old photo…a grey panther, just like you!


  6. shoreacres says:

    I laughed aloud at “time added on for good behavior.” That’s amusing, especially since in prison terms time generally is taken off for good behavior.

    I remember you mentioned, when I posted about turning seventy, that your turn was coming. Now it’s here, and I wish you all the best for the coming years.

    Every time I hear someone refer to the “elderly,” and realize they’re talking about someone who’s 60 or 65, I just grin. I’m well aware that disaster could strike at any time, and general decline will set in eventually, but in the meantime? There’s a lot of fun to be had, and creativity to be exercised, even within the constraints that life imposes. I’m looking forward to following your projects through future years.


    • LensScaper says:

      We are now both Grey Panthers – I hope you’ve behaved well too to encourage ‘added time’. Strange isn’t how we think of everyone else as ‘elderly’. We go out mid-week to a lot of our regular places because they are less busy with families with children largely absent. My wife often comments on the clientele as being mainly elderly and I always smile to myself when I hear that, and wonder when the penny will drop that we are close to being elderly ourselves. Thankfully we both feel (most of the time) and try to act younger than a chronological years and long may that continue. We will be off to Switzerland again later this summer and I am already thinking about some high walks and reminding myself that a bit of running before then will help improve my fitness levels which I can no longer take for granted like I used to.


  7. Congratulations on reaching 70 Andy. As Neil Young said, long may you run!


  8. bluebrightly says:

    I just stopped working a few months ago, and also find myself immersed in being productive, just in a different area. Congrats on turning 70, and keep going!


    • LensScaper says:

      Welcome to the world of the retired, Lynn. The availability of time, with no deadlines, is what I find so attractive. Keeping going at one’s own pace is a joyous thing. Enjoy!


  9. seekraz says:

    Good for you, Andy…and yes, keep going!!


  10. What a GREAT photograph, Andy, I love seeing photographs like this from years past. I was going through shots that my dad took in the late 50’s and early 60’s with my wife the other night and I find that it’s a true treasure to see the world from this era through a lens. This shot is top-drawer my friend. Absolutely top-drawer. I also LOVE your message of inspiration here, as time tends to be relentless for us all it’s really wonderful to hear of people who take advantage of their life experience to fully experience all that life has to offer. I tip my hat to you, good sir, and send you our very best wishes from the west coast of Canada. Cheers!!!!


    • LensScaper says:

      Good to hear from you Toad and sincere thanks for your generous words. I am very grateful that my body still behaves and acts like a sixty year old instead of seventy! At seventy I’m still hiking in the Alps – we spent two weeks out there just recently and I came home with well over a thousand new images which I am slowly working my way through and even more slowly they are appearing on this blog. I always appreciate it when you give me a mention over on Light Stalking – there’s a sudden spike in interest and visits to my blog. You do so much to support other bloggers like myself and I will for ever be grateful for your support, as I am sure will many others. My very best wishes to you and Mrs Toad.


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