1. You’ve probably remembered it wrong anyway – Don’t you find that the lead up to the ‘big’ birthdays is always so much worse than getting there? I was so worried about hitting 40 I spent a whole year thinking I was 39 and missed out on being 38 completely. Did I learn by this mistake? No. It happened all over again leading up to 50. I was 49 for two years and never 48. The only good thing is that when I got to the Big Zeros it wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared and all age anxiety disappeared. Until the next time.
2. You haven’t grown up yet let alone old – I’m 55 years of age but I sum up strangers I know nothing about far too quickly and still, for the first few moments anyway, believe every single thing that I’m told. I think big sunglasses make me look cool and sexy and I still believe I’ll have that strawberry pink villa in Provence one day. Or maybe it’ll be the whitewashed beach shack in Greece, just as soon as I’ve worked out if I’m going to be rich or poor when I grow up.
3. You look hot – why ruin it? – Age truly is just a number, a guidepost if you like. Like dress size. Just because you bought that size 16 wool coat doesn’t mean you are a size 16. You could be a 14, a 12 even, looking for that bit of extra give in the fabric for your money. Lying about your age only becomes a problem when you lie to yourself. We all have to be wary of mutton dressed as lamb whatever decade we’re in. Vivienne Westwood believes that clothes, if you get them right, can be so empowering they can actually change way you think.
4. Only your doctor knows the whole truth, your dentist the whole tooth – I remember being horrified the first time my doctor used the M, menopause, word during a regular check-up. Insulted even. And again, I was the tiniest bit miffed when my dentist took an X-ray without asking if I could be pregnant. Why, when it’s such a natural part of life all women go through?
5. Impertinent questions don’t deserve straight answers – And why, exactly, is it rude to ask a lady her age? Where did that come from? Well, whilst men can remain fertile until they’re in their 80s, it’s all over for us women (I nearly said girls there) decades before. It’s nature’s way of course, childbearing being so much more physically demanding on our bodies. But the role of reproduction in the great game of love and marriage plays such a major part in our adult lives it can be hard for some of us to accept that that part of ourselves has gone forever. This is the theme of my new novel, Ten Good Reasons To Lie About Your Age. Men might die younger but they live longer.
6. Why else would God have invented hair dye? – On those TV make-over shows have you noticed how it’s so often the hair that makes all the difference in the end? It’s all about top and tail. Hair and shoes. Comfort and style is the hardest look of all to pull off, but trailblazers like Helen Mirren are leading the way in showing us what modern ‘old age’ looks like.
7. Sensibility is ageless – Those old clichés ‘it’s what’s inside that count’s, ‘you’re as young as you feel’ are all very well and true but, when it comes to presentation, images and numbers are all mixed up together. Of course age doesn’t matter when you get to know somebody, but it can make all the difference when you need to create that all-important first impression.
8. It takes at least ten years to get used to your real age anyway – The fact that we’re all living longer, more active lives hasn’t been taken on board everywhere yet, especially by employers. I’m sure there’ll come at time when somebody saying you’re looking young won’t be seen, or need to be seen, as a compliment. We’ll be able to point at ourselves and say ‘this is what 40, 50, 60, 70′ looks like.’ But we’re not there yet.
9. Everyone knows Lies Begin at 40 – Whilst my father lied his age up to get into the RAF and sign up for war, my mother lied her age down so she could carry on working as long as she could. Everybody was at it. Thanks to computer databases, it’s much harder to get away with lying about your age these days but at least employment is one where both sexes are in the same boat. Thanks, again, to computers, the world is more obsessed with numbers than it’s ever been. When you apply for any little thing these days, be it a storecard or entry to a competition, they always want to know your date of birth. As for having your real birth date on internet sites like Facebook, that’s like hanging a banner up in your window with your mother’s maiden name in 10 foot letters. Have one, permanent, fake date of birth firmly locked up in the back of your mind along with your Pin number and favorite passwords. And knock a few years off while you’re at it why don’t you. After all,
10. Nobody can cut you in half and count the rings.