I have always loved Mary Wesley's novel The Camomile Lawn. I fear this is out of sheer vanity - as one her protagonists spelled Sophy with a Y - just like me (the "with a Y" is quite an exclusive club). I have, however, always loved Mary Wesley more than her novels. I love her because she didn't write her first adult book until she was 71.
This has always impressed me - that Mary just took off, undeterred by age and wrote creatively vibrant, hugely popular novels is brilliant. Her story (rather than stories) has stayed with me my whole life (I must have been about 13 or 14 when I learned of her age) and has become a bit of who I am. I have never felt the pressure of doors closing because, thanks to Mary, I have always felt I had the strength to jam them open whatever my age.
And I wonder if this is because I put creativity, and creative thinking, at the core of what I do. Creativity, I believe, is something that just gets better with age. As long as you keep switched in and on to what is emerging and what is happening around you, as long as you remain open minded to the new, to innovation and change, then the accumulated knowledge you gain over time, the depth of the "stuff" that is collected in your head, adds layers and richness to the ideas you have.
For an idea magpie like me - one who collects scraps of stories, adds names of novels, picture fragments, foods, places to visit, names that make me laugh and more to the notes page on her iPhone - age is a bonus.
A bonus backed up with the bizarre bravery which comes with getting older. A bravery which can stop embarrassment in its tracks, which knows that failure does not mean disaster, that allows you to say how you feel when you feel it (even if it's tinged with a little grumpiness now and then).
I believe businesses, especially creative businesses, should be tapping into older employees more - at every level. We should be looking not just to the new upstarts who undoubtedly bring fresh perspective and thinking, but to some of us oldies who don't just have the ideas but have the depth of experience to know how to make them work.
Imagine a creative team made up of a 25 and 55 year year old, I bet they could move mountains!
This belief was also curiously juxtaposed this week. Sitting in my car, listening to Radio 4 as I do so often these days, I heard that Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - now 73 - took the decision, over a year ago, to stop singing in public. She told the Today programme: "I don't want to hear my voice. It is in the past. When I'm teaching young singers and hearing beautiful young fresh voices, I don't want to put my voice next to theirs."
And I cried. Not because I don't respect her opinion - I do. But because the rich, mellowness of her experience as expressed in her formidable voice no longer reveals its beauty to her.
I don't ever want to feel that. I want to go on creating until I drop. I want to be Sophy "with a Y" - sticking up two fingers perceptions of age, jamming open doors, coming up with new ideas, being heard and causing trouble - for as long as I can.
I would proudly join the emerging army of 65 year olds starting their own businesses, forging new paths, sharing ideas. But - dear God - please let me never EVER be an "olderpreneur".
More people over 65 are going into business than ever. Last year 465,000 told the Office for National Statistics that they were self-employed – that’s more than double the figure a decade ago. Barclays, the UK’s largest retail bank, says 19,000 people who were 55 or over opened new business accounts last year – also a huge rise on 10 years ago. They’ve hired Liz Earle, a skincare entrepreneur, to advise them. Melanie Abbott talks to Liz Earle and another 'olderpreneur'.