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29 October, 2014 / General

Older, happier… and waking up with a dress on

primeI couldn’t wait to get my hands on India Knight’s new book, In Your Prime: Older, Wiser, Happier (published by Penguin). I love her non-fiction writing. It rattles along, and you feel like you’re in a cosy corner of a bar with her, getting stuck into a bottle of wine. There’s advice on pretty much everything about being an older (ie, post 40-ish) woman here, although often it reads more like India’s breezy thoughts on a topic, rather than anything deeply researched – which is fine. It’s all I really need right now on the subject of menopause, ageing parents and stomach holder-inner pants.

India touches on crepey cleavages (bugger all you can do about it) and how to avoid looking muttony. ¬†She advises on whether to try Internet dating (yes), have an inappropriate crush (no) and how to enjoy pottering about, doing nothing much, and not stressing about it either. So it’s all good, illuminating stuff.

As an aside, having turned 50 last week, I’d like to add my own checklist of stuff to bear in mind, now I’ve hit that half-century. That’s my cake above, created by my talented friend Elaine. For the moment I am choosing to ignore India’s suggestion that my old-lady knees are no longer up to the job of running.

My own rules for ageing…

  • A hairdresser told me she always uses a magnifying mirror. I could’t believe anyone would willingly inflict such trauma upon themselves. But then, she is 27 and very beautiful. At my age, I wouldn’t dream of magnifying anything. In fact I prefer to undertake any mirror-related duties without my glasses on.
  • Saying, ‘Where are my glasses?’ is a phrase uttered far more often than, ‘Where are we going tonight?’ We’re staying in, that’s where we’re going. To hunt for our glasses.
  • We all know it’s more flattering to have your photo taken from slightly above. I now ask anyone wielding a camera to do so while teetering at the top of a wobbly stepladder, thus creating ‘blur’.
  • It’s completely acceptable to resign from your position of Chief Sock Sorter…
  • …And to buy a bagged salad and fry and bit of fish and say, ‘Dinner’s ready.’ I no longer feel required to create a sumptuous meal in an attempt to please everyone – because it never did. By this stage, everyone is perfectly capable of foraging about at the back of the fridge anyway. My friend Tania reckons that, due to rapidly-dwindling oestrogen levels, I am losing my nurturing tendencies.
  • Certain types of music are becoming unpalatable to me and that’s fine, I don’t have to pretend to like it. As I type, the lyric, “F*** ma ho'” has just boomed through the house. Another apparently favoured track involves a man screaming – not in a belting out lyrics way. I mean really screaming, as if being burned.
  • No need for waves of crushing self loathing the morning after a boozy night. I am over that now. The morning after my 50th birthday – possibly the best night of my life – I woke up fully attired in a black dress and tights and thought, This is all right. This, I can handle. I’d tumbled into bed at 5 am after a night with my very favourite people in the world.

That, I decided, is all that really matters: not wrinkles or saggy bits or spotting the odd scary hair poking out from the chin. Just being with people I love, and laughing. A lot. And I’ll be too busy doing that to sort socks.

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