BOOK REVIEWS: Woman Happy Being Grumpy; Solihull Born Author, TV Producer and Director Judith Holder Has Become an Expert on Ladies of a Certain Age

The Birmingham Post (England), November 25, 2006 | Go to article overview

BOOK REVIEWS: Woman Happy Being Grumpy; Solihull Born Author, TV Producer and Director Judith Holder Has Become an Expert on Ladies of a Certain Age


Byline: By JAYNE HOWARTH

It is a truism that within every middle-aged woman lurks a sybarite.

Just because gravity is starting to take hold and grey hairs have started to appear, younger, more pert, women assume that their older counterparts are past it, have no history of fun and are, well, sad.

But, argues author and TV producer/director Judith Holder, these younger beings simply have no idea.

While older women may have a predilection for comfy shoes and tend to spend more time on their chins than eyebrows with their tweezers, they are still passionate, provocative and sexy (and not just when the HRT kicks in).

Judith, who produced the television series Grumpy Old Women and has just published The Secret Diary of a Grumpy Old Woman, a Bridget Jones for the menopausal age, believes the time has come for women of a certain age to stand up and be counted.

"I feel, at last, that middle-aged women, who are busy looking after their mothers and doing everything else, have got someone with attitude they can look up to - and that feels great," she said.

"I feel I have found my voice."

Fifty-one-year-old Judith, who was born and brought up in Solihull, has drawn upon her experiences as a mother in the book.

Pledges to be a better, more organised person are a common theme throughout the book, as well as gripes about everyday life, from her irritating boss to her daughters' indifference to her existence.

There were wince-inducing passages - probably more because I recognised myself more than anything - and honest appraisals of what it is to be like to be a woman in her late 40s.

While there might be plenty of laughs, as the frazzled woman blunders from one day to another in a hormonal rage, there are some entries so poignant that it leaves a lump in your throat: the time when she marks the anniversary of her father's death' her feelings when her eldest daughter goes away for eight weeks' the realisation that her children don't need her to look after them any more.

So were some of those passages taken from the heart?

"I loved writing the diary - it's the wickedest thing I have done so far," she said.

"But I am much more prone to being sad and weepy now than I ever was, and so a lot of it has been based on truth.

"My daughter did go on a gap experience, so perhaps the honest bits are quite moving as they were very real for me. And they were helpful for me when I wrote them.

"I hope what I have written has some depth in it, but even some of the funny bits have some truth in them."

Judith, who attended Harold Cartwright School, in Solihull, before attaining an English degree at Leeds University, has had a string of television successes under her belt.

Now head of features at Liberty Bell Productions, she brought us Girl Friday, in which Joanna Lumley survived on a desert island - memorably fashioning shoes out of her bra -put Lenny Henry in the Amazon and sent Billy Connolly to the Arctic. …

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