Saturday, 12 April 2008

Age defining

I realised, on Thursday at about 7.33pm, that I am 36 this year. This sudden realisation came about when my hairdresser asked me how old I was. "35" I answered confidently, because I am. "When's your birthday?" she asked me as she teased and primped the hair of my friend and hairdressing buddy Louise. "1st of June" said I. Gulp. This means, this year, I'm 36. My life flashed before my very eyes, right there in Shear Class. School, college, wedding, childbirth, a couple of Christmases, a few drunken birthdays and, bizarrely, a hot summers day in Greenwich Park. 36. No longer can I hold onto that allusion of youth that being "under 35" gives you. On 1 June I shall be four years away from the big four-oh. I'm not a natural blonde. I think it's only right that I tell you this. I have a combination of three different blondes skillfully weaved into my hair by Amanda - it gives me the perfect excuse for my ditsiness - but sitting there on Thursday, my head covered in meshes I thought "why am I bothering?"

When I staggered home to face David dozing on the sofa in front of Eastenders on BBC3 he must have had such a shock to be faced by his newly blonded wife with the poker straight shoulder length bob. "Wow darling, it looks lovely!" he yawned. "Yeah right" I said, flopping down on the sofa next to him while Junior Dog tried very hard to place my face. I must look so different. "I'm getting old. Do I look old? Or older? Is it more of a progressive thing? Do I look different now to how I looked at this time last night? Or is it not as sudden as that? Is it creeping up on me and everyone can see it except me Do you think I'm getting old?"

My beloved husband sat blinking at me, mouth open, words forming on his lips but nothing coming out.

He blinked at me a few more times before saying "Erm, well, everyone's getting older darling, it's how things are but, erm, you, erm, don't look much, I mean any older than you did say, last week.....or even, erm, last, well, you look your age......look, what's happened?" Obviously his brain hadn't had time to formulate the right words.

"I'm 36 this year" I stated, suddenly in the mood for some chocolate. "36. No longer 35. I'm ringing Bea" I added, grabbing the phone while David headed for the Scotch bottle. "How did you feel when you reached 36?" I asked my lovely sister the minute she trilled "helloooo, the St John-Sykes household". "Dar-ling girl!" she said and then did the brittle laugh she does when she's not really sure what to say next. "What a question to ask someone at a quarter past ten!"

"So, how did you feel when you reached 36?" I pressed as David handed me a glass of wine. "I'll let you know when I reach 36!" she trilled. I was in no mood for messing around "Bea, you're older than me." I snapped. More brittle laughter and she then changed the subject so deftly to whether or not I thought Enormous Au Pair was losing weight - I was halfway through my answer before I realised.

"I'm 36 this year" I said gloomily as I replaced the receiver. "36. That's four years from 40." I added, showing off my maths skills to the accountant I married who was now searching the house for chocolate. He knows me so well. But not well enough to know I have a secret stash of Galaxy in one of my old handbags in the cupboard under the stairs. I didn't have the energy or the inclination to get up to get it.

"So what?" David said as he returned with the next best thing: a packet of hob-nobs. So what. A typical man's response. "It's the end of youth, the end of, oh I don't know, carefree days, of vitality, fertility - things dry up. First your skin goes, then your nails start going dodgy, your Female Bits start acting up, then come the hot flushes and shoplifting (I was using my mum's aunt as an example you understand) and the 'eurgh get off I've got a headache' and then you start forgetting things and start putting the milk in the bathroom and the toilet rolls in the fridge (mum's aunt again) and then......oh, it's just an end of life as I know it." A whole biscuit went into my mouth followed by a large swig of red wine.

"Erm, sweetheart, didn't you say the same thing when you were 30?" I vaguely knew him at the time but he maintains he remembers my 30th birthday extremely well - I'd got up on the karaoke stage at the pub my family, friends and I were celebrating in and sang, in quick succession, "I will survive", "I know him so well" (playing both the Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson parts) and "Cat Among The Pigeons". I'd then slumped onto the banquette and claimed my life was over. I remember nothing of this at all. Amazingly enough he still married me.

I glared at him and tipped more wine down my neck "Oh, what did I know? I was young and stupid."


Potty Mummy said...

I wasn't blogging on my 40th birthday (only last year, amazingly enough - which, now I think about it, means that at the beginning of last year I was still 39 - hurrah!), but if I had been you would have been subjected to many a post bemoaning my great age and then deciding to ignore the whole thing.

However, a good friend reminded me how much I had to celebrate, so at the last minute I planned and held a fxxk-off party, had a ball, and have never looked back. There is life after 40 - and amazingly, it's really no different from life at 39...

aims said...

And there is life after 50!!

And - surprisingly - I find it better than all the years before. I have finally come into my own. I like who I am - I like my grey hair - I don't really like the creases in my forehead - but I earned them - so they are mine and they are staying!

Life is exactly what they say - it is what you make it! Hooray!!

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Potty Mummy and Aims - I know I'm over dramatising everything, Auntie Ivy said this morning that I'm who I am because of how old I am. It certainly made me think!

Merry said...

You ain't getting no sympathy from this quarter, chica. Young whippersnapper. Huh. Lemme tell you, when I was 36... well, actually I can't remember that far back. Almost 10 years since.
I think the thing to do is develop a reallllllly bad memory about things like numbers ;)

Mya said...

Oh to be thirty-six again! Stop moaning you lucky bugger and eat some more Hob Nobs.

Mya x

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Dear all

I have given myself a quick boot up the backside, got some venue brochures for my 40th birthday and am planning a mahoosive party for my 36th. If there's any more pitiful whinging from me you can tell me off good and proper!

All about me

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.