Tomorrow it is my birthday, and we are in the middle of an October heatwave. It is very kind of the weather gods to give me BBQ weather and a bit of a shoulder tan and an excuse to wear the summer frocks for a little while longer. It almost eases the pain of being in my middle -30’s. How bloody awful is that? I remember thirtysomething being on telly when I was supposed to be in bed when I was still young and hopeful of a meaningful career/future tamed flaxen locks/eventual thinness and they all seemed like ALIENS because they were so old.
I am now irretrievably thirtysomething. Ach.
The benefits, they say, of this horrible ageing truth is that alongside the grey patches and the sinking decollete and the tentative creases that spring up each time I inspect my forehead with a magnifying mirror will be a new-found freedom. A liberation from feeling like I have to fit in, from caring what people think of me, the sweet relief from calorie-counting and feeling guilty about stuff. Obviously, as my last self-indulgent post in which I moaned about my upper arms and feeling like the big dumb new girl in a bad frock shows that we have not found the elusive 30-something complete liberation yet. But it is coming. I feel it in my ageing waters.
Meanwhile, I have learnt some stuff:
1. The girls who looked groomed at 12 and 13 were actually BORN groomed. And their mothers were groomed. They had no choice but to be groomed. They probably felt terribly jealous of my way with the bed-head hair and the stains in my clothes. You do not just reach an age where you are miraculously waxed/tinted/toned/clean/ironed/blowdried. You have to actually be born into a groomed family and then you will suck up the groomedness by osmosis. If you did not grow up in such a family, you have to TRY EXTRA HARD AND PAY OUT LOTS OF MONEY. And you have to lie to your husband about how much it costs. And yours will be the blowdry that falls out halfway through the evening, and yours will be the heel that snaps and yours will be the sleeve with mysterious dried food-matter stuck on it. Remember the eyelash disaster? A case in point.
2. It is ok to find a style when you are about 23 – you can wear cardigans and fifties skirts and little pumps with a myriad of vintage brooches and plastic beads, only then to decide that you have to change your look when these things make you look absurd. You can also start spending money on buying grownup stuff, like tailored things and excellent makeup. You kind of HAVE to. Those young girls will always look cuter. So you have to look excellenter.
3. You don’t have to dance or go to nightclubs if you feel like a giant dickhead. You can call it a night at 11pm. That’s totally fine with me.
4. You don’t have to be friends with people who make you feel bad. They can go. Hang out with people who read and who make you laugh and who understand that the shape of the shoulders on a blazer could actually be the topic of conversation for a good length of time. People who like food and wine and dressing up and talking about nothing/everything- these are the ones who can stay.
5. Don’t bother reading books that you don’t love. This one causes me much discomfort but I think it is true. Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook – I am looking at you right now, all forlorn and read up until the last 60 pages. You were BORING.
6. If someone invites you to Marrakech for the weekend, you should go. And so I am. Middle of November, in fact. There were cross words spoken, and a bit of needling and whining and sulking but the tickets have been booked. Hurrah! There shall be more souks, apple tea, shisha pipes and enormous swinging breasts in another steamy hammam. Which brings me to my last point:
7. Bodies. Who cares? Just wear that tight sucking-in underwear, pop your boobs out, wear lots of lipstick, be funny, wear a cardigan, no one will notice if you aren’t all 17 years old-esque. Or, more correctly, they won’t care. And women who eat are far more fun to be around. FACT.
Anyway, tomorrow I leave the land of the early-thirties and enter into the far more sophisticated mids. It will be awesome, especially if I get a cake. I will have to get my own, but that in itself is kind of liberating, is it not? You want some cake? Buy it yourself! (Actually, I am not convinced by that one.) I will post some photos of my self-bought cake, and I will list any presents I get. I imagine that the list will be blunt, short and to the point. I am hoping I can grow to be ok about this.