Tag Archives: 40

Not Dressed Up, Nowhere To Go

cougarSomething disturbing happened the other day.

I was out with a friend, dressed casually, sipping a glass of wine with two hands in one of those faux-bonhomie wine bars with ‘ironic’ artwork and staff with obligatory piercings/sullen expressions/selective deafness. But I digress.

Two couples entered, both women in spray-on dresses, dazzling white teeth, teetering heels and big, big hair.

After looking longingly at their heels (sigh), I clocked that their partners were much younger. Nothing wrong with that. After collecting their drinks from the bar, they perched on the chairs next to us, so I couldn’t help but do a nosy.

The men (boys) seemed unable to sit still without squeezing the women every five minutes, in, ahem, not-totally-appropriate places. I’m no prude but this was seriously interrupting my fascinating conversation about my new Gorgonzola and steak recipe and I quickly lost my thread.

So we bar-hopped to the next place. Five minutes later, the same couples came tumbling through the door. To cut a long story short, I found myself in a place surrounded by eerily similar-looking twosomes, like some kind of weird parallel zone. ‘Yell at me if I ever get like that just to get a man when I’m that old’ I remarked smugly, casting my beady eye around the mayhem.

My former friend choked on his drink and said ‘they’re our age, look, that one’s got a ‘Still Flirty At 40’ badge on and that one’s definitely had Botox. They’re all in their 40’s. Like us.’

He was right. I sulked the rest of the evening, lying awake later that night pondering my Sad Single Situation. Is this the only way to date in my 40’s? As if it wasn’t hard enough being divorced with a grumpy Teenager, a rude cat and to top it all, MS, does entering my fifth decade condemn me to a life of body-con crash diets, hair extensions and laughing politely when my date burps the Welsh national anthem?

The only alternative seems to be joining an evening class in the autumn, perhaps signing up to Very Hot Indian Cooking, in the hope that I will find my soulmate over some poppadoms and mango chutney. I reckon the powers that be in adult education should start a brand-new class for ‘peeps who want to meet other peeps but have to pretend to be interested in Very Hot Indian Cooking or Yoga for Complete and Utter Numptys’. Heels and hair extensions preferred, but not essential…..

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This Is Me

Ta daI have had some insightful conversations this week with people who have only known me since my MS diagnosis.

Without wanting to inflate my dented, bruised ego, they have all remarked on how positive I am.

Who, me? (looks behind, just in case). Well, yes, I guess I am in some ways.

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us” as Robert Burns, that famous Scottish poet wrote – or in other words, wouldn’t it be fab to see how we appear to other people?

Well, this has certainly helped my little, fragmented and shattered to smithereens sense of self. I too often concentrate on my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my complete inability to fit in with my socio-economic grouping.

So, hey, this is me. This is me with MS, this is me living with MS.

I’m not actually doing that badly. The dark tunnel I went through is coming to an end. I’m not the same person I was, starting from that definitive date in July 2011, the day I woke up unable to speak properly (I mean, really, how dare MS do that to me?).

I have been through every single grieving stage, and then some. I have held countless pity parties. I have gulped and cried into my wine glass  too many times to mention (plastic glasses, now, of course).

But when I say, This Is Me, who exactly am I now? Am I new and improved? Am I better than before? Hmm. Let’s switch viewpoints. How do I appear to others? That might give me a handy guide as to how I am doing.

Well, I am Campaigning. I am Getting Involved. I am Informed. That aside, what does the future hold, for me, personally?

If I thought I had enough problems trying to date as a divorced single mother of 40, how on earth can I push my way through the dating Meat Market as a 40 year old, divorced, single mother with a degenerative illness, MS? Ahem, not that finding a partner is uppermost in my thoughts (much).

No. As I said to someone today, the best thing MS has done for me, is it has allowed me to battle something alone. To find my own strength and find comfort in being Alone. I don’t want ‘Another Half’. I don’t need to ‘Feel Complete’.

When I find that career and that special other person, it will be on equal terms. I don’t need to be rescued. I just need someone to say. ‘You are you, and I like you’.

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It’s Only A Number. Isn’t It?

Oh joy. I will be forty 39 plus 1 in less than half a year. I won’t be celebrating, but rather I shall be holding a memorial service to my first 40 years, along with lashings of wine and copious amounts of cake.

To help me feel even more inadequate than usual, The Sunday Times Style magazine thoughtfully published a list of ’40 Things To Do Before You’re 40.’Here’s some of the ones I haven’t done and have no hope of doing before August:

  • Get an accountant – ha ha thud. That’s me laughing my head off.
  • Bin all your tights and replace the lot with Falke – unfashionable me has no idea what/who Falke is. Hopeless.
  • Have a kinky dream about a colleague – the builder? Seriously?
  • Go to Glastonbury – nope.
  • Host an afterparty that people still talk about years later – what the heck’s an afterparty and why have I never been to one?
  • Stop wearing lycra – never.
  • Spend a year with an incredibly flat stomach – and give up Maltesers and toast? Crazy.
  • Unwrap a diamond – not unless it’s a Diamond White cider party pack.
  • Grow your hair so long that it covers your nipples – one word – why?

But here’s some I have done:

  • Decide whether you want children – yup, I’m keeping the Teenager.
  • Be able to order wine confidently – ‘Cheapest bottle of your house white, and make it snappy, my good man.’
  • Pull an all-nighter, drink sambuca, dance on the tables, then go straight to work – too many times to mention.
  • Live abroad long enough to get a taste for the local breakfast – those were the days. Sigh.
  • Witness a birth – I was definitely there when The Teenager was born.
  • Perfect your signature roast chicken – Waitrose, I love you.

Don’t you just hate these lists? Here’s my kind of list – recently-announced top 5 snacks in the UK (drum roll….) bacon butties came out top, no doubt helped along by my recent alarming consumption of them. They were closely followed by cheese on toast, sausage rolls, Cornish pasties and Scotch eggs. Now that’s a list you can get your teeth into…

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