I was mooching around Spitelfields Market the other day and a girl approached me and said, "Excuse me, do you have a minute? I'm doing an article for The Times about what it's like to be 40 today." I looked at her for a moment, trying to work out what she meant and than I laughed because I'm turning 50 next year. She apologised and said I looked great at which point I think I levitated, so happy was I to be thought of as a mere 40, a number I once feared. But that's nothing to ........I can't even say it.
I can't believe I'm 49. How did this happen? I feel like I'm only just getting started and now I've passed the half-way point and to be honest I'm not that happy about it because although I didn't exactly have a plan, I didn't plan this. I sort of thought growing old would equal growing up, with a proper husband, an ordered life instead of youthful chaos, holidays abroad and the joy of Radio 4's 'You & Yours'. But no. Instead of a blue rinse and sensible shows, I'm a single woman in skinny jeans and biker boots, crying into my Argentinean Malbec over the ex-boyfriend like a love sick 18 year-old, while my girlfriends run round with the roll-ups and lists of internet dating sites. I compete with the likes of my teenage son for tickets to festivals and the chance to spend three days in a damp field in some far-flung corner of England, dancing with my arms aloft because while Patti Smith and Annie Lennox are still at it, so too am I.
In my head I think I'm about 25, it's just the body that has gaily gone on maturing. So just when you think you've got a handle on life, made enough mistakes to learn a few tricks, your knees give out, your back goes and you can't find your glasses. Another birthday used to mean another notch on the ever-expanding belt of middle age but not any more. Old bodies don't need to get bent out of shape while there's yoga and pilates and even yolates......don't ask......and although getting off the sofa is often accompanied by various creaks and groans, I can still do the downward dog, which is all that matters.
The generation who sold us sex and drugs and rock and roll said we'd die before we were 30, a promise they failed to deliver. So, how does a girl proceed into her 50s? I don't feel I'm done yet and with Madonna and Kim Cattrall blazing a youthful trail, can women of a certain age still dance under the stars and shop in Top Shop? Or are we deluding ourselves? This was never in the manuel........
Top tip for what to do with the very expensive leather handbag the ex-boyfriend gave you, that you don't want to use but just can't dump: paint it black, with shoe dye, and it's a brand new bag. Unless it's already black, then just get over it.