Monday, 30 January 2012

A Beginner's Guide to Middle Age

A reader has asked me when middle-age starts. She sounded nervous. I can't think why. Years are no barrier; you can start middle-age any time you like. I personally embraced it in my early twenties when I eschewed Saturday night clubbing for re-runs of Brideshead Revisited. It proved so addictive that I have never looked back.

Middle-agers enjoy comforts unimaginable to those who are burdened by youth. You don't have to worry how many friends you have on Facebook because you foster your relationships on sheaves of Basildon Bond. You are the only one not shivering on a wintry station platform because you're sensibly swaddled in thermals. You can dangle from trees because you've stopped caring about street-cred and you know what to do with a Jerusalem artichoke.

Evidently, though, the transition remains mysterious to those who have yet to find the courage to try it, so here are 20 pointers to help you work out whether you qualify for Mid Life.

You know you're middle aged when:

A flannelette sheet tops your birthday wish list

You memorise the going rate for a cauliflower

You host a dinner party in your slippers

You tell your New Year's Eve guests that you need to be in bed by 10.30pm. 

You can't do forward rolls any more

You check out the obituaries in the newspaper

You read a newspaper 


You talk to vegetables


You leave off shaving your legs

You wear a warm coat when you go out on the town


Except that you don't go out on the town because you're working your way through your box set of Downton Abbey


Your mother gives you his n' hers all-purpose household hygiene wipes for Christmas


You mistake the wire from an iPod stored in a school mother's cleavage for an intravenous drip

You carry a bottle opener in your handbag in case you get taken short

You have opinions on different brands of furniture polish

You have the Boden order line on speed-dial

You have a husband who wears long johns 

You once wrote in to Jim'll Fix It 

You start to find other people's illnesses interesting

You feel maternal towards policemen

See? Nothing to it! Let me know your score and if you can think of any other enjoyable symptoms that I have overlooked please suggest them below. Happy ageing!


44 comments:

  1. You are no longer the youngest person in church by twenty years

    ReplyDelete
  2. You can make jam, and soup, and think this is a good thing to do. (Which will make you, dear writer, feel young...)

    You are mistaken for youyr children's granny (which happened to me when I was 45, and was HORRIBLE.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear, that last has soured my idea of the whole thing. I can make soups of primordial green slime which I (although not friends and family) think is a good thing to do but never jam. And I'm not the youngest on the church pew cos I have to run a Sunday School so am persecuted by Youth!

      Delete
  3. Do you pee in bottles, then?

    You involuntarily say 'Ah!' when you sit down.
    You save sticks for stirring paint
    You drink whisky
    You have a favourite kitchen knife
    You shout at Radio 4

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've been saving these up haven't you?

      Delete
  4. OH NO!!! i scored 14!!! HELP!!!!!

    from @manaiasmama

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  5. Brilliant post. I now KNOW I must be middle-aged because I stopped shaving my legs ages ago.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are a member of a book club.
    You've said 'Goodness where has the day gone?' and not been joking.
    You know the difference between EPA and DHA in fish oils.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent.I shall embrace these symptoms immediately!

      Delete
  7. For a man, you know you're middle-aged when your age goes to your middle.

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  8. Not only do you know what to do with a Jerusalem artichoke, you know that the final consequences will result in terrible flatulence problems, which you've long since given up concealing from your husband.

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    Replies
    1. Good point. I've heard of this side-effect but never experienced it myself. Vicar's wives don't do that sort of thing.

      Delete
  9. Eight :(

    Like Reluctant Housedad the non leg shaving was a gimmee, equally I cannot have a husband who wears long johns. Picking from Mills and Boon Wannabe's list I have a favourite kitchen knife, shout at Radio 4 and drink whisky. Fuddy-duddy it is then.

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  10. I start saying stuff like 'Hey, don't students look young these days' without any sense of irony. And I don't understand fashion any more *weeps*

    But thank you. I don't feel quite so ancient now... ;)

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  11. What a hoot! I easily scored 12.

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  12. Oh I'm so up there! Totally down with the going to bed at 10.00 pm on New Years Eve. I havent waxed my legs in months! Must be the wrapping up warm thing in Winter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being older and wiser we realise that a luxuriant winter pelt has vital thermal properties. Giddy youth, on the other had, shover needlessly for the sake of a hairless sheen on their shins.

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  13. I can't read past the bit about the Iphone lead being an intravenous drip... KILLING.MYSELF.LAUGHING............

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    Replies
    1. No laughing matter, I assure you. It wrecked my school-gate cred!

      Delete
  14. I scored 6, that's good right?! And I shave my legs EVERYDAY in the summer so i will drop to 5 points come May!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, dear, that is not good. I expected more of you! Come back in six months and take it again.

      Delete
  15. Oh dear, oh dear. I score 19 out of 20, so am evidently a has-been. I almost scored 20, but I have an iPod. That said, the IV drip bit is still in the packet, as I like to hear what's going on around me, lest a bike be about to knock me down. I also like conversing with real people rather than stuffing ear-plugs in (though when son is rambling on about Maths, they could be the solution).

    I would add that you are middle aged if you look at students wearing Uggh boots and grumble inwardly about the damage they are doing to their feet by letting them sag at the back. What they need is a trip to Hotter.

    The one good point about Eucharist on Sundays is that it makes me feel about 15. Compared to the rest of the congregation (average age: about 4300), I probably look 15 too.

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  16. You've started using that mustard yellow boiled wool blanket with a satin trim your mother-in-law gave you now it's turned cold.
    Your dinner parties now start at the earlier time of 7.30 so they can finish earlier.
    When you go out on a Saturday night, your teenager drives you there and picks you up at midnight.
    You carry a Swiss Army Knife in your handbag to cover all eventualities from bottle opening to DIY.
    You have a husband who podcasts The Archers every week and who wears European Comfort Shoes.
    You wear reading glasses (as do most of your friends) perched half way down your nose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, that's brilliant! I shall master all of those (except I lack the teenagers). You make life sound so very comfortable!

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  17. These are superb. I think I scored about 15 (short term memory not what it was and I lost count half way through from the laughing).

    I've actually been middle aged since I was 17 and first refused to go out on Saturday nights. Much better to stop in with the telly and some chocolate digestives. Never was one for life in the fast lane.

    I'm expecting that I'm going to have some sort of sudden rush of wildness in about 10 years time, just when I least expect it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How funny, I've always said that'll probably happen to me too. Maybe I'll bump into you at a rave!

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  18. Love it!

    Here are my contributions:

    Starting to keep a list of those who sent you Christmas cards (with a view to returning the compliment next year).
    Considering a Christmas newsletter.
    Exclaiming "turn this noise down" whenever anyone puts Radio 1 on.
    Carrying tissues and/or a hankie with you at all times.
    Buying lavender drawer liners from John Lewis.
    Crying sentimentally when you see newborn babies.

    Etc. I have more. Lots more. But I'm sitting in this draught, and I could murder a cuppa ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are invaluable contributions and I do all of them bar the lavender drawer liners and the baby weeping. Both of those will hopefully come as I mature.

      Delete
  19. I memorise the price of butter in exactly the same way that my mother did 35 years ago! I was 10! That's how a assess the cost of living.

    I fall asleep on the tube 4 stops after getting on. Both to and from work!

    I'm sure there are more but my brain is fuddle by flu bug.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Own-brand butter is £1.35 now, whereas 14 months ago I wouldn't pay a penny more than 89p. And Bendicks Bittermints have gone up 34p in Waitrose! In my day...

      Delete
  20. 13 for me...

    I would add:

    You call your own and other people's childen 'love'
    You go to the garden centre to meet a friend for coffee (and join their reward scheme)
    You buy shoes for comfort over style
    You were excited about the new Emma Bridgewater Diamond jubilee mug

    Great post - as ever!!

    I should add that the Archers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. call people 'sweeteheart'. Does that count? I more or less live in garden centres, yes, and have a reward card, and my shoes are always M&S Footglove, but no Emma Bridgewater doesn;t excite me! Ought she too? *makes mental note*

      Delete
  21. Should now add that middle aged people forget to finish their sentences!

    Meant to say that @BBCTheArchers follow ME on twitter! Come on...top that!

    Sx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, can't compete. You are more middle-aged than I am!

      Delete
  22. getting excited at the new Footglove range....
    when you have stopped growing at each end but have begun to grow in the middle
    The news is on and you actually listen to it.
    You talk back,to both the tv and the radio.
    You often walk into a room and have no idea what you went in there for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knew you'd add wisdom. Thank goodness you popped by; was worried you'd tipped over the edge!

      Delete
    2. Still hanging in there! Middle age means it takes me longer to think about it!

      Delete
  23. Hi, newbie here :)

    I hit 35 last December and thought perhaps that was middle aged (sorry!) but having read all these my mind's partially at rest!

    My husband and I did leave a New Year's Eve gay wedding reception though at 10:30, I reckon that could go onto the list?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ha ha ha! Er, check, check, check, check....yep. I'm middle aged too! Ah well, happens to the best of us...

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  25. Brilliant! I only got 4 so I'm quite chuffed. I'm a 39 year old street dancer :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry. I'm sure you'll score better in a couple of years now you know what you're aiming for!

      Delete
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