Middle-age is an underrated condition. Those who have yet to reach it fear it; those who have, deny it. A survey by that matchless celebration of mid-life endeavour, Saga, shows that its customers reckon they pass from youth to old age near their 70th birthdays, bypassing middle-age entirely.
I am an expert in this field. I entered middle-age in spirit in my early teens and in body a good half decade ago. It's a stage that brings many comforts - a thicker skin, maturer children, guiltless nights on the sofa and an extensive collection of cardigans. But its greatest gift is wisdom.
While the young continue their blundering pursuit of their true selves, we mid-lifers have found ours, absorbed the shock, made some necessary adjustments and resigned ourselves to what we cannot change.
And so, from this enviable perch, I'm contributing to KateTakes5's collection of Truths as divined by women. Younger readers like Kate - this list of enlightenment could save you years of stress and experimentation!
A fountain pen. This is one of the most effective weapons against stress, confusion and cosmic disorder. There are, in fact, few woes that ink cannot help soothe, whether it's taming a day of heavy deadlines by listing and ticking them off or rationalising a crisis by venting on paper. Biros don't count.
Laundry. It's a mysterious truth that the amount of dirty linen in a laundry basket increases in inverse proportion to the amount that you daily take out of it. No matter how many cycles you fit in to a day. If this sounds preposterous, answer me this: when did you last see the bottom of yours? Which brings me to...
Ironing. Millions of modern women are enslaved to it, yet of all household chores this is the least necessary. Pressed linen is only an obligation for weddings, job interviews and a visit from a bishop. Creases subside from clothes after a couple of hours of wearing and are engraved into bedlinen after half a night's sleep, so what's the point? I used to excavate my iron once a year to smooth the Christmas tablecloths; now I use bigger place mats to disguise the crumples.
Gossip. Scurrilous gossip is more invigorating than charitable smalltalk. This is a very distressing truth and one I try hard to disprove. Daily do I resolve to suppress opinions of other people's child-rearing methods/lunch box contents/wardrobe combinations/marital challenges. Daily do I resolve to air opinions on their virtues. But the fact is that dissecting folk's shortcomings over a plate of Bourbon Creams makes us feel better about our own ineptitude and there's something unaccountably exhausting about company of finer souls who abhor it.
Security. You can withstand most routine slings and arrows if you are shored up by fleecy slippers and a block of Pilgrim's Choice.
What have I left out? Add your cosmic insights here: