This week I turned 35. Sigh.

Everyone 35 and over trills lightly when I whinge about my birthday, sitting, as I so delicately am, on the cusp of Youth and Oldness, and they say, wistfully, that I am still Young. Everyone under 35 knows the truth. I’m on the slide to 40! Which is much older than I was ever going to get! There will be facial implications, upper arm ruination, and, in my case, a GIANT LUMBERING ELEPHANT stomping about the room signifying my lack of a job. I had such potential, I really did. Now my grand life-skills and achievements include churning out children at factory-level numbers, nailing a good number of recipes nicked from Jamie Oliver, and the ability to drink. I have a book club, I have mastered lipstick, I don’t feel intimidated in Aveda anymore. I get stroppy with people and occasionally confront them. I use eye cream. I get the odd wax (and yesterday I went to a nail bar and got my fingers OPI electric blu-ed by an Asian lady who told me my cuticles were dry and who tsked at my little finger-cuts that I have on two fingers from our one very sharp knife  and she snipped away at the flaps of skin covering the cuts and I nearly fainted from the horror of it all). I drive perfectly well, I’m on the parent council at school, I can always find something to buy at a sample sale, I always finish my antibiotics course, I have six pairs of stylish sunglasses. I still can’t wear heels.

No job though.

That’s kind of it. There aren’t any more little privileges/rites of passages/quirks that I can claim to be my own from the lofty heights of Mount Mid Thirty. It’s all very well and good, but I FORGOT TO GET A JOB. I was going to be something really good.

Anyway. It was a lovely birthday. A day of restaurant-crawling and a little overspending. I started off eating this:

At Grangers & Co, the newish Westbourne Grove brunch place with all the weird ladies. The Notting Hill ladies who share a simultaneously pinched and puffy face and who wear workout gear in public. It does a very good sweetcorn fritter though, with a very small but outstanding flat white. Then we went on to this:

That’s an endive, rocquefort and walnut salad from Brasserie Zedel, a huge basement Art Deco grand dining room. I met Jo there, and she bought me lunch and champagne and then we ate chocolate profiteroles with a jug of warmed chocolate sauce. Then we went on to The Grazing Goat to eat this:

That was jerusalem artichoke foam with a quail’s scotch egg and some crispy things…the first of many excellent small delicious things to gobble up.  We had dinner with Neradah and Leigh, and they asked the chef to make us a degustation menu with no fishy bits. THAT’S HOW STYLISH I AM. There were seven courses. And Billecart-Salmon and Veuve Clicquot champagne.

And there was a sample sale in Eastcastle Street where I became a “YES THANKS” person and just bought the stuff I wanted – a Nicole Farhi dress and coat, an American Retro shirt, new converse.

It was excellent, and TOTALLY worth the ageing-depression-first-world-problem crisis.

Here are some happy faces:

That’s a most impressive cake that Neradah made for me. Lucky, really, eh? And Sue brought around a damp and delicious Claudia Rodin Orange and Lemon cake, no flour, all almondy and aromatic, with lemon cream spilled all over the top. So we ate that too. And the children promised to be well-behaved all day, and they made me a card addressed to “Jodi Bartle“, which was just as well, because it could easily have been given to their other mother. And they were pretty good, which must have taken quite a bit of exhausting effort, because the day after, they stabbed the leather couch with a knife, poked the new fish with a knitting needle, spilt water on the mac Time Machine and broke the iPad. And I cried and asked around for a child psychologist. It was the lowest point yet in my 36th year.

Now, I must go and tear the children away from watching inappropriate youtube clips on a cracked and sharp iPad screen. I shall leave you with this – Spiderman Baby and his Ted:

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14 Responses to Birthdaze

  1. 35’s not so bad. With love from the nearly 44 year old 😉 x

  2. Vic says:

    Well I’ve got 8 months on you! When I turned 35 in Feb this year it all seemed to suddenly hit me, up until my 35th I never really gave hitting the big 40 a thought, but now I have become secretly obsessed with it and find myself comparing all the time, getting depressed at the sight of my ageing, sagging body. Ok I’ve got 3 boys, they were all big babies and its taken the toll on me, but god really is it all over at 35? it felt like it for a few months but all 3 boys are now full time in school, FINALLY! and I am finding myself again, cheesy I know. I have taken up Yoga again, and Spanish dance and have decided that one day a week is just for me, for my pleasure, be it going back to bed after dropping boys off, going to a stately home, alone without the stress and whining my boys bring to days out, or something simple like pottering about at home, trying things on, reading, having a soak – basically all the things I have been unable to do in peace for the last decade.
    I always felt ok being the right side of 35, but now I’m almost 36 and feel in a bit of panic to do stuff, live, travel, have experiences, do healthy things to ‘improve’ myself, i’m on the other side of 35 and feel a bit scared of what is to come. Sorry for the rant but your post rang so true with me, it is significant turning 35 and I’m trying so hard to embrace it, but struggling a bit! I’m sure by the time I hit 40 I’ll have it all figured out haha!!!

    • theharridan says:

      Thanks for your comment. I love a rant, and I am glad that you felt the same as me. I am pretty much over my wallowing now, and think there is much to be said about finding yourself again, like you have. My newfound running thing seems to be working for me, and I am feeling fitter and thinner than I have for years. Anyway, there’s always time to become a well-groomed tv journalist, no?

      • Vic says:

        Oh totally, I think only doing what you are passionate about and want to get up at all hours to do is the only thing that can make you happy. Follow your instincts (is what in my ‘old age’ ) I have realised is always right. I have a degree but since having my 3 boys have done some shitty jobs and have realised the only way to happiness is to be your own boss, do something noble, worthwhile and
        that makes you excited and that also makes you feel you are working for a reason. For me it is going the route of my parents and grandparents and selling antiques/vintage. Its in my blood to do this, I can’t go to a ‘job’, I prefer to work for something that I can do, that means something to me and that is probalbly reflecting my personality.

  3. Kristy Drake says:

    Yep, I’ll be 35 in two months time… and even though you don’t have a ‘job’ you are the best and funniest blogger out there! I reckon you should be paid for your stories… or write a book… or be one of those families that get their own reality tv show. I would so watch it!

  4. Gowri says:

    Happy Bday my dear jodi! you are fab looking 35 year old and you do the most important job in the world, being a mum. I am going to be 40 in two months, scary. I have temporarily given up work, not that i ever did it full time in the first place. I guess we all have the important job of motherhood and we don’t give ourselves enough credit for it.

    you are stunning at 35, great mum and your writing is fantastic with incredible humour, i would so buy your books.

    • theharridan says:

      Thank you, lovely G. And Happy Birthday to you pretty soon then! You’d better be having an enormous glamorous bash? X

  5. Patience says:

    Happy Birthday. I didn’t have a proper job until I was 41, so you’re OK.

  6. alisoncross says:

    Happy birthday! I am nearly 50 and don’t seem to have a proper job. Scary isn’t it?! But fun! I demand the details of that amended Claudia Roden cake as I have only just mastered it (taken many, many attempts!) and don’t have any clue about any kind of lemony topping.

    You look lovely in the photos. And the spiderman baby is exceptionally cute.

    Ali x

  7. shambition says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I was having one of those moments where I wondered how long the 1 & 3 years olds would manage if I went outside to have a quick nervous breakdown. Instead I shoved a boob at the baby to halve the noise & thought – please let there be a new Harridan post, please! Needed a giggle very badly.
    Sanity temporarily restored. Thank you!

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