I strayed the other day past a shop which sold classy and desirable homeware. I knew that it was classy and desirable because the soft items were patterned with Cath Kidston-style florals and the hard ones notched and lined with cracks and crinkles. Distressed furniture is the scientific term. The more distressed a chest of drawers, the more it is valued. House guests are supposed to assume that the chest has passed through your family dynasty; that each scar, painstakingly applied by a craftman's tool, is a souvenir of a generation.
My body is similarly distressed. My chest, after four decades of family life, resembles the railway intersection at Crewe. A craftsman would be proud of the fine lines that pleat my face and I've grown three well-shaped liver spots on one hand. By rights, like that furniture, I should be highly prized by society.
Yet adverts urge on me hi-tech slime to thwart Time. Clinics beg to hack years off me with a surgeon's knife. And now I read that scientists are using stem cell injections to abolish wrinkles. Why? Why is an ageing cabinet desirable, but not an ageing matron? Why are carefully torn jeans sold at a premium, but a fissured phiz is an embarrassment.?
Me, I've always preferred the lived-in look. For, as with all antiques, each mark tells a story. The crevasses around my mouth are from bawling out my children. They are testament to my selfless efforts to harden their moral fibre. The creases round my eyes are from squinting at my laptop. They illustrate ten months of wild living on Twitter. The fretworks on my forehead are mementos of nights spent swabbing infant vomit, the children's first solo trip to Co-op, the unwholesome episode with a pickle jar and a batch of burnt Le Creuset.
An unlined pensioner would look as sinister as a wizened toddler and so, while the gullible start harvesting their stem cells, I am resolved to crease and sag with gusto. I have blocked the Vicar's shaving mirror in with loo rolls to strengthen my resolve and I leave off my glasses when I epilate my chin.
Evidently my inner beauty shines through the cracks for, in a restaurant one lunchtime, the Vicar flourishes his iPhone and takes my photo. He seems to gaze raptly at it for a flattering while, then he shows me:
Very proud he is of his 'ageing app'. He can, he boasts, inflate my figure most remarkably with a different device. With a few deft strokes of the screen I am a 20-stone octogenarian and I no longer fancy the dessert menu.
This glimpse of the future has unnerved me. Inner beauty could never compete. Urgent action is required while there's still time, so could someone please tell me: where the heck do I start looking for my stem cells?