I attended a dear friend’s 40 birthday party recently and as we wished her Happy Birthday it was with a mixture of sympathy and commiseration that she had arrived at this milestone. With just three years until I will be making the same big 4-0 birthday plans, I am left with the feeling that hitting our 40s has just crept up on my friends and I and doesn’t really suit us at all.
The trouble is I just don’t feel old enough to be on the wrong side of my 30s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to ‘get down with the kids’ through talking ‘street’ and dressing like Tulisa. I wear what I think is age appropriate on the hopefully trendy side of ‘Mumsy’ clothing, but can’t get my head around that I am probably considered old by anyone in their 20s now. This was confirmed to me recently whilst being served in a well-known department store, when the 20 something salesman addressed me as ‘Madam’, I almost shouted ‘do you know that Debbie Harry was my age when Blondie were at the height of their fame! She was lusted after which means that 37 is not old!’. Thankfully I didn’t say this as I thought he might not know who Debbie Harry was for one and maybe I was being a bit paranoid, calling me ‘Madam’ was probably part of his sales training after all. I managed to restrain myself from heading to a builder’s site to see if I was worthy of a wolf whistle in my ageing state, and convinced myself it isn’t that important to me what other people think.
It doesn’t help that as I become use to my dwindling 30s, other celebrities in my age bracket, ‘I’m talking to you Posh Spice!’ are constantly battling their weight, nipping and tucking to the point of looking permanently shocked, whilst saying how much they enjoy getting older, yeah right! My other fave celeb Mum (ahem) Gwyneth said of turning 40, “I feel younger than ever and more energetic”. Hmmm now I am still three years away from 40 and I feel older than ever with pathetic stores of energy levels. I often make the groan noise when I have to squat my knees to reach something under the stairs or will often fall asleep, on the sofa, mid movie when me and hubby settle down for an evening, blaming it ‘on my busy day’. Bet Gwyneth isn’t dribbling on her sofa cushion come 9pm, she’s probably doing sit ups whilst chewing on a lettuce leaf!
I am trying not to be bitter about getting older. I had a debaucherous enough youth to feel like I am able to glide into my older years at a slower pace with more refined nights out. My friends who have already hit the 40 mark have done it looking pretty damn fabulous and still have lots of ambitions to fulfil. One of my best friends is in his late 40s and is not one bit worried about heading to his 50s, but instead is welcoming it with open arms, saying he feels wiser and more relaxed about getting older.
Debbie Harry is still fronting Blondie in her late 60s, even if it is in a mad bag lady style. David Bowie is releasing a new album and he is approaching his 70s and Sir Paul McCartney, well, he really does need to realise that it is time for pipe and slippers and Midsomer Murders on box set.
My inspiration is my 81-year-old Aunt. She is young at heart, strong, resilient, hilarious and always delivers words of wisdom. She is super fit for her age and recently joined a gym ‘to get rid of her bingo wings’. When she filled out the enrolment forms for her personal trainer, she faked her date of birth so that it made her 75 instead as ‘she didn’t want to be treated like an old biddy’. My Aunt is my Mum’s sister, they grew up in a house of women along with my other Aunt and my Nan, my Grandad sadly died shortly after my Mum was born. My Aunts were children during the war, with my Mum being born in 1945, and they grew up having to be strong, resourceful females in a male dominated world. They have remained this way throughout their lives, striving for the best in life for themselves and their families, never complaining, with the reasoning if there is something to moan about then change it!
Age is just a number, we are only as young as we feel, 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40, along with all the other clichés we like to chat about in order to reassure ourselves that we are not past it. What I think is as long as I surround myself with my young at heart friends and family, who have a couldn’t care less attitude about getting older, I will hopefully always have a grasp on the fountain of youth. In the meantime, I’m off to watch Springwatch with my cup of cocoa, only 20 minutes before I pass out on the sofa anyway.
I will leave you with a poem that my Great Aunt wrote, another strong inspirational female relative of mine, with her take on life.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
We met, we married, a long time ago
He worked for long hours and wages were low
No telly, no radio, no bath, times were hard
Just a cold water tap and a walk up the yard
No holidays abroad, no carpets on floors
We had coal on the fire, we never locked doors
The children arrived, no pill in those days
And we brought them up, without state aid
No valium, no drugs, no LSD
We cured our pains with a good cup of tea
If you were sick, you were treated at once
Not fill in a form and come back in a month
No vandals, no muggings, there was nothing to rob
In fact you were rich with a couple of bob
People were happier in those days
Kinder and caring in some many ways
Milkman and paper boys would whistle and sing
And a night at the flicks was a wonderful thing
We had our share of troubles and strife
But we had to face it, that was life
But now I’m alone and look back through the years
I don’t think of the bad times, the troubles and tears
I remember the blessings, our home and our love
We shared them together and I thank God.