I have a birthday coming up. I am so unexcited by the prospect I had to pause then to remember whether it falls next week or the week after. It is the week after. Phew. No need to panic just yet then.
It’s not a ‘special’ birthday, as in one that ends in an ‘0’ and it’s not a halfway there kind of middling birthday. It’s just a run of the mill, not particularly glamorous, not an age I particularly want to be kind of birthday.
I was reflecting on this last night because I think I might now be defined by society as old. Well, I may not be old exactly but I’m certainly not a ‘young lady’ anymore. So I guess I must be middle aged. Just the words middle and aged make me go ‘EEEEEEK’. When I was younger being middle aged meant wearing a twinset and pearls, having a tight perm and tan tights and a tartan skirt and sensible shoes. It meant being really out of things. Halfway dead.
My whole life I have resisted being middle aged. This has been helped enormously by several crucial factors.
1. My parents are only 19 and 20 years older than me so they were still kids themselves as I grew up. That retarded me for sure.
2. My parents were never middle aged. They went from young to retired in a matter of weeks.
3. I didn’t get married until I was 39. Marriage means being settled. Surely being settled ages you? In a good way, but nonetheless ….
4. I never had children so I don’t compare myself in age to them.
5. I have resisted the urge to wear tan tights and apart from brief spells working for Boots in my teens, and Safeways in my twenties I have never had to wear them! Hoorah!
6. I would not be caught dead in sensible shoes. I wear boots. Mainly Dr Martens and mainly coloured ones. I go bare footed a lot. Sometimes I wear trainers and when the weather is extraordinary I wear sandals or flip flops. That’s it.
7. I’ve never needed to have a perm because my hair is already of the curly, dragged through a hedge backwards, long, untameable and wild variety. Thanks heavens for Irish genes!
8. I have a wide variety of female friends, some much younger, some the same sort of age, some older and they are all phenomenal and do not embrace middle agedom either. They are my role models.
So being middle aged is something that really doesn’t seem to happen anymore or at least not in the way I defined it as a child. I did read somewhere that jeans are worn by middle aged people rather than younger people so perhaps that’s what defines middle age.
Possibly music defines middle age. I’ve given up listening to ‘popular’ music. I watched Top of the Pops on Christmas Day and found myself sounding like my grandparents thirty years ago. ‘Look at the state of that!’, ‘Who the hell is that?’, ‘Never heard of them!’, ‘The original was so much better,’ and the old classic, ‘How the hell did this get to number one?’ Now I’ve settled quite nicely into Planet Rock with occasional forays to Kerrang for something young and fresh, and some of my friends have bypassed Radio 2 straight for Radio 4 and Radio 6. Personally, I think rock music keeps me young!
Politics ages me. I look at the piecemeal and badly thought through policies being brought in by the Coalition, and I see smarmy, self-righteous, clueless, over-privileged ex-public schoolboys feathering their own nests while victimising the poor, the disabled, the unemployed and the sick. How can a group of people be so savagely ungenerous to their fellow humans? Are we not of the same tribe? Do we not care for each other? Do they not have enough? I can feel the wrinkles settling deeply around my forehead and eyes as I watch the news or read the paper.
But!! All is far from lost! Now that the Elf job has finished I am unemployed again, seeking work, looking for writing jobs. And I am oddly happy. The single most important thing that happened to me last year was that I was made redundant. Suddenly I was out of the rat race, cast loose from a backstabbing, cut throat world of bad management, poor decisions and ineptitude. I sit here in my study writing bits and bobs and my heart sings with lightness. I feel decades younger. If this is middle age, I’m loving it!