Happy birthday to Olive Riley, "the world's oldest blogger," who will be 108
on October 20.
Olive calls it a blob, while her helper, Mike Rubbo, who does the typing,
refers to it as a Blogalog, a cross between a blog and a travelog. He describes
Should we be calling Olive the worldís oldest blogger when, as youíll see
from the blog, itís a collaborative effort? It was Eric, himself a record
holder in journalist age terms, who first broached the idea of Oliveís blog.
Eric is 88 and publishes an e-book which you can easily find by googling his
name, Eric Shackle.
I met Eric at our local radio station. I was on radio to talk about
saving our lovely Avoca Beach Theatre from over-development, and Eric was
the interviewee before me. I heard him telling Central Coast residents, many
of whom are retired, that they donít need to be afraid of the internet.
I was fascinated by Ericís message coming from someone who was 87, and me
being 67. Iíd been somewhat fearful myself of the internet, though Iíve been
emailing for years. I was certainly stumped by the technical side of
blogging and web siting, reliant on others for my internet presence.
Anyway, Eric and I got talking at the radio studio that day and then kept
in touch, me reading his e book regularly.
Soon, he was doing a story on a film of mine that Iíd made on the
Shakespeare mystery. Iím sure you all know itís quite unlikely that William
Shakespeare actually wrote those famous works which bear his name, he being
illiterate, as far as we know.
Some years ago, I made a documentary called Much Ado About Something,
which attempts to prove that the hidden hand behind the Bard was one
Christopher Marlowe, another playwright of the period. I proposed that
Marlowe had had to flee England to escape charges of atheism, that Marlowe
had faked his own death in 1593, and continued writing plays from exile in
Italy under the name of Shakespeare.
Eric had fun telling the world about my theory on his e-book, far from
convinced, I suspect.
Later, I gave him a copy of a the Documentary Iíd recently completed on
the amazing Olive Riley, then 105. This film was called All About Olive.
It must been about a year later that Eric discovered the blog of Spainís
Maria Amelia Lopez who was blogging with the help of her typist grandson, at
the great old age of 95. It was Eric too, who said, ďIf Maria can do it, why
I was immediately intrigued because I had in hand many of Oliveís
engaging stories that Iíd not been able to put into the film for space
reasons. So, I went to Olive, whoíd stayed a friend after the filming, and
explained what a blog was, and how she and I could serve up the delightful
leftovers, the stories, I mean.
Would she like to blog if I did all the work, the typing, the
photography, and later the YouTubing? She was mildly interested, mainly
because she does love telling stories. It was only later that she came to
realize the amazing reach she could have so late in her life.
Here she was, a lovely straightforward person, a barmaid for much of her
working life, now world famous. Olive is someone nobody had ever paid much
attention to, except to say, ďanother schooner of Reschís, luv!Ē from the
other side of some Sydney bar. The years and wars of the 20th century rolled
by, Olive remaining in obscurity except to her growing pyramid of
descendants. Now, suddenly here she was read and followed around the world.
Well, it was heady stuff for all three of us, and then came the
realization that what Eric had spoken about in the first interview on local
ABC radio, namely helping older people to overcome internetic fears, was
actually happening globally because of Ollieís blog, or Blob, as she first
Not only that, but many people with older rellies, were getting off their
bums and recording the reminiscences and stories that theyíd always meant to
record, but never had.
Next, web sites like the wonderful As Time Goes By picked up Ollieís
blob, and passed it on to seniors across the vast US, linking us with the
enterprising Ronni Bennett who was already coaxing great writing out of
But all that being said, we must admit that this blog is more blogography
than autoblogography, if you get what I mean.
And as it advances and Olive ages, it could well be that the mix changes
and there are more stories initiated by us, Eric and I, especially me, since
Iíve got the best legs of all three, and am still physically frisky, unlike
my partners. (thereís 40 years between us. Iím 68, Eric is 88 and Ollie is
Iíve also Iíve had a packed life making films, both documentary and
fiction, which my blog partners find interesting. Now, with YouTube, one is
able to share bits of oneís past life like never before.