Friday, 14 May 2021

...and the abyss dares her to bungee-jump into her fifties

SO the builders have finished the shed out the back that is to be my study, my bolt-hole, my she-cave, my sanctuary, my room. Which is brilliant but until I can afford to kit it out in the Farrow & Ball, shabby chic country cottage style I’d like, I’m still working at the kitchen table, refereeing fights between my little darlings and trying not to disturb Cookie, who’s snoozing at my feet. And the shed remains empty.

Still, at least now the kids have gone to their Dad’s for the weekend, I can look at, drool over chintz curtains and gaze at the ingenious way wealthy Londoners have converted their Victorian side returns into six-storey basements on Houzz, virtually guilt-free.

I say virtually because I’m fully aware that staring at these things on a computer screen for hours on end is definitely not going to help me raise the funds to actually buy them.

So in a bid to improve the shining hour, I leave the laptop screen in the kitchen and move into the front room to the big TV screen there, to sit on the couch, tartan blanket over my knees.

The new series of Cold Feet is on and I watch the Robert Bathurst character try to sell insurance to an old lady who’d got him round to her house simply so she can add the free pen to her already large collection.

What a good idea! Not the insurance, no — we all know that’s a con — but the canny old bird. I’ve always loved stationery and writing implements and have quite a sizeable collection of my own.

So there I am, staring at myself in 20 years (or 20 seconds considering that tartan blanket) and I find myself not groaning at the prospect of getting old and finding joy in the mundane, but instead admiring the girl’s dotty, gentle chutzpah. And hair.

And then an advert for over-50s insurance comes on. The oldsters featured in the ad are water-skiing, skydiving, refusing cruises — all the while flashing their impossibly white dentures and extolling the virtues of acting like reckless 20-year-olds in the pursuit of eternal youth in a sod-getting-old, two- fingers-up-to-the-retirement-home kind of way.

And it strikes me that while we’re all so busy worshipping at the altar of youth, fearing the reaper every time we close our eyes for the night, we rarely give any real thought to how great it is to be getting older — if only because we don’t have to do any of that stupid stuff anymore and look like we’re loving it to boot.

Obviously, a bunch of 12-year-old advertising boys made that ad according to what they think getting old is like and what would be the hilarious opposite (rapping Grannies, anyone?), but it got me thinking... and drawing up a list of things I’m looking forward to about old age:

1. Wearing wigs. As my disobedient, frizzy hair gets thinner with every passing day, I can’t wait to get my hands on a syrup that gives me a bit of much-needed height and always looks fab no matter how much rain falls on it or how incompetently I try to style it.

2. Having perfectly straight, blindingly bright Ross-from-Friends-style gnashers which I can take out every now and then to scare the grandkids with.

3. Getting uber-curmudgeonly, calling it as I see it and waving my walking stick at people who annoy me. Especially in crowded streets where pesky kids zip past you on skateboards and scare the breakfast out of you.

4. Walking hand-in-wrinkly-liver-spotted-hand through a well-stocked garden centre with the man of my dreams.

5. Um… were there five? Really? B*****ed if I can remember. Anyway, pass the Garibaldis will you, there’s a love?

Now let’s see. Where was I? Oh yes, the man of my dreams.

He might look a bit like Nick Heyward (Henley resident, well-dressed Channel 5 motor home wrangler and all-round bonkers musical genius), but he absolutely must be someone who loves to bang on about interesting stuff and make me laugh.

Also, it’s critical that he cares not a jot whether I’m overweight, overdrawn or over-50 because, quite frankly, he’s over it. And so am I.

But that’s another story…

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