Sunday, 30 October 2011

Lets face it.........

I seem to be having a growing spurt. Like a toddler who suddenly looks like a child instead of a baby, I now have the face of a much older person. Well, much older than me...... surely. Lines and wrinkles were never something that have ever really bothered me. My course, olive complexion came into it's own just past puberty and kept the aging process at bay. Till now. Now the lines of battle have been drawn up, apparently while I was sleeping, under both eyes, from nose to mouth and between the brows. The only line that's not getting stronger is my jawline. Now the line, 'you look great' is always followed by, 'for your age.' And no amount of sleep seems to make any difference. This is it. Is this trench warfare in need of filler?

So what to do? Where as before a good hair cut and an expensive tub of moisturiser might have made one feel better, if not more beautiful, now there is a whole world of nips, tucks and injectable facelifts. And this is no longer the preserve of the rich and famous, or even the well-off and magazine worker. A friend of mine who recently turned 50 has just had something injected into her face that will, apparently, grow collagen, making her....naturally.....beautiful once more. At £1000 it's not cheap, takes up to 6 months to see the full affect and lasts up to 2 years. What happens then is anyone's guess. She didn't pay, it was a gift from the boyfriend. An interesting conversation: darling, I love the way you look, I just want you to look younger.....

So is this the future? Do I now need the youthful radiance of a Hollywood star to shine in north London? If those in relationships have to stay young and beautiful what hope for those still hoping to find one? Or should I just follow Jerry Hall's anti-aging advice, never wear your glasses when you look in the mirror......

Top tip: Almond oil for body and face it's an exceptional moisturiser, go swim in it.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

My life in pictures........

If it was a movie I would have run down the road and across the walking bridge to Tate Modern and along the embankment, under the glittering lights, hung low and bright and blue in the trees, and into the British Film Institute. I would have turned with a pleading look to the girl with the clip-board standing by the door and she would have smiled, said 'it's OK, you've missed nothing' and let me in. I would have stumbled in the half light to my seat and Alexander Payne, the director of About Schmidt, Sideways and out-soon, The Descendants, would have paused from discussing George Clooney's performance in his new film, looked directly at me and said, 'there's a seat here,' gesturing to the front row. After a fascinating talk about his life and work, when the clapping had died down and we were all reaching for our coats, the enigmatic, gently greying, American would have stepped forward and said, 'Hi.' He would have smiled and hoped I'd enjoyed his talk. I'd have apologised for being late, the buses, the traffic, my crazy madcap life. He would have laughed at my amusing story and asked if I lived in London, if ..... if I was doing anything, how he was having a crazy time of meet and greet and premiers and dinners at the London Film Festival and how it would just be so nice to go for a quite drink, if I wasn't busy that was.....

But it's not a movie, so I ran down the embankment, the cold night air rasping my throat, my bag heavy on my shoulder, sweating my way through the early evening lovers and theatre going tourists who blocked my path, and into the BFI where the girl with the clipboard said the email I thrust at her wasn't good enough and that I would have to go to the box office on the other side of the building to collect my ticket first. At the box office they couldn't find my ticket but they did find a return. Eventually. I ran back to the girl on the door with the clipboard who said I could go in but not without the usher. She went to find the usher. The usher ushered me in to an empty seat next to a man with a beard who kept texting. Alexander Payne didn't notice me. The talk was good though.

Top tip: for dark humour with gorgeous George, go see The Descendants, coming soon to a theatre near you.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Accidents will happen......

Something terrible's happened. Really, really awful.

My friend died of cancer in April. She is the closest friend I have lost. So far. I think about it a lot. It's a shock. I am shocked that she's not here. She was married to a French guy. I've known him for 20 years but I don't really know him. They have 2 daughters, 13 and 14. So it's been a tough time. For everyone. For those of us who were her single friends and don't have kids the same age as hers, we are having to find our new place in our dead friend's family's life; for those with a husband who can still chat to him over the BBQ or kids who can hang out with the girls, it's easier, they still do Sunday lunches, Saturday suppers, long weekends and weeks by the sea. But for those of us who mainly hung out with her, we're auditioning for a new position.

So, when I rang to see how the girls were getting on back at school, I was delighted when the eldest asked if I would help her dye a pair of grey shoes, black. This was my new place, I thought. I dye shoes, bags, clothes. I change things, make things, this is what I did with my dead friend when we were teenagers. This is what I would do with her kids now they were teenagers. We fixed an evening, the first time I'd been there without any other friends since the death. Just like when I used to go for supper when my friend was alive. It felt weired. I felt emotional. But it felt good to go. I had found a place in their life. The girls were on their own when I arrived, there is an hour or so between the help leaving and their Dad getting home. We chatted about the summer, their holiday, they were on good form. They are quite remarkable kids.

Their Dad came home, he is obviously very stressed. My friend and he ran their own interior design business: very high end, very high spec. She ran their business, ran their home and raised their kids, he never even saw a phone bill before. Their home was completely renovated and redecorated before my friend died. Working in interior design, they'd never got it sorted. It was something she wanted to do before she was done. We got the shoes. He said don't do it in here, do it outside. We said it'll be fine, it's dark outside, we'll do it here. Don't worry. I dyed the shoes, the girls went to lay the table for supper, I knocked over the black dye on the super-super-bespoke, high-end, ordinary-people-can't-buy-this-floor floor. I ran to get a cloth, my friend's daughter grabbed a pan scourer. She rubbed off the surface of the super-super-bespoke, high-end, ordinary-people-can't-buy-this-floor floor. The French guy went mental. He was screaming at her. I was screaming at him. We were all nearly in tears. I wanted to run out the door and never come back but I couldn't. I'd come to help, to make things better and now it was so much worse. I told him I would contact the floor people and do what ever it took to fix it. Everyone calmed down. And then we had to eat supper. I felt sick.

That was three weeks ago. The floor is of course created by Pygmy-elves in a forest somewhere undiscovered by the modern world and carried through the night only on full-moon before being laid in one deft movement and then all the elves commit ceremonial suicide so this process can never, ever be recreated again. But, for an incredibly high price and Aussie bloke will come round and try to fix it. He sanded it. He applied the stain and it proved a perfect match. Finally I began to breath again. The next day I returned to oversee the finishing oil. The boards did look a little darker but the family was in Paris for the weekend so plenty of time for it to dry. Today I got a call, apparently it's too dark and the offending patch, which was the size of my fist, undetectable unless pointed out and easily concealable beneath the table where it was, now covers half a dozen boards, spread right across the room, because even the tiniest speck had meant a whole board was sanded down. He says it looks terrible. He wants them to come back, they might have to lay new boards. Now I never want to go back again.

Top tip: go see Midnight In Paris....... Woody nails nostalgia and makes us laugh out loud!!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Walk on by.......

As I've now learnt that one needs to exercise 6...yes 6....times a week in middle age, if one is to remain fit and fabulous, I'm now attempting two yoga classes a week and have taken up walking. Living in London, or I'm sure any city, this is very easy. I don't have a car and I live close to tubes and buses and shops and stuff. I can walk to two cinemas, a theatre, a swimming pool, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys, M&S, an art gallery, my yoga class, the bank and Ottolenghi's in under 15 minutes so I know I can always knock off the half hour minimum recommended but now, any journey I reckon I can walk within half an hour or so of home I'm walking. Weather permitting. And all ready I can see the benefits. And it's easy, just open the front door and put one foot in front of the!

However, in the country, walking is much harder. You can't just go for a walk. A walk is a carefully constructed exercise involving time, planning and kit. For starters you have to drive to the walk which must involve a view and/or monument, preferably both, and can be half an hour or more in a car. You must have a minimum of 3 adults, 2 children, 1 dog, Wellingtons, hats, suncream and a cagoule. You need snacks and bottles of water and a backpack to carry the snacks and bottles of water. You must preferably walk in sun-stroke-inducing heat, pouring rain or bitterly cold winds. If you can get pouring rain and bitterly cold it's best to then walk a coastal hill path for the full experience. Immediately after completing the walk you must go to either a pub (if in sun-stroke-inducing heat) or a homemade cafe (pouring rain and/or bitterly cold wind) and either drink cold beer by the pint and eat an entire block of cheddar normally used to feed a family of four for a week by yourself (the pub) or drink large mugs of sweet hot chocolate and eat flapjack by the pound (the cafe) and talk about the walk.
'What a view?'
'Wasn't it?'
'Yes wasn't it....would be...... if it weren't raining.'
'Must have walked for an hour.'
'Two at least.'
'Did one for two and a half last week.'
'Did you?'
'Nearly three.'
'And the children love it.'
'They do. So good for them.'
'Absolutely, have to carry them most of the way of course, but they'll sleep well to night.'
'Oh yes ...... all that air.'
'Oh the air and that view......'

I went for a walk to Shoreditch to get my haircut. By myself. No kit. Thirty five brisk minutes. I saw an old man through a window with his feet in a bowl of water watching TV, a tall black guy wearing a giant hat on top of his giant hair leading a tiny dog, and a young man in a van drive into and then over a set of traffic lights on the Hackney Road............. it's the simple things in life....

Top tip: If you haven't seen it yet, get to a cinema near you for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and see Gary Oldman leading an utterly brilliant cast being brilliant ......fabulous on every level.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Seen it all before.........

There comes a time when you reach a certain age, I believe, that everyone looks familiar. I'm always seeing people I recognise, people who look like someone I went to school or college with except they look as they looked then, which of course they wouldn't now......perhaps, I wonder, are they the son or daughter of my old memory?And I don't think I'm alone. A few weeks ago a friend of mine could be seen waving violently at someone, convinced he was someone she knew, except he was Bob Geldof. Which of course on one level she did know........but not on his level.

Which leads me into the celebrity sitings. I used to have a boyfriend who, apart from being a terrible man, was very funny. We would play the look-who-it-is game all the time, turning to one another to point out such look-a-likes as Michael Palin, Richard Dreyfus or Sue Pollard, at the check-out, cash-point or bus stop. But this week, on Monday, I was so convinced I saw Larry David, the writer, comedian and actor, coming out of a house in my street I actually followed him. He was wearing the unmistakable leeeesure wear of wealthy Americans: a polo shirt, long shorts and loafers; he strolled in a relaxed Larry-lollop, his bold pate fringed by grey, shining in the morning sun. I walked behind him but as he turned into the garage I was gripped by the need to see him ..... full-frontal. He really did look like Larry David. Like a scene from Seinfeld, I became George, peering in through the window as he stood in line to pay for his milk and paper. It wasn't Larry David. I stepped back and as I did i knocked the paper stand and in an effort to stop it from toppling over was narrowly missed by a car looking for petrol who swerved to miss a second car. It may not have been Larry David but his spirit was with us.

Top tip: Waitrose are doing a deal on the Lindt Excellence Touch of Sea Salt dark chocolate.....I'm up to two bars a day.....