Monday, 18 November 2013

Shrunken Horizons

I was offered a free smartphone last week by a company I was planning to write depressing things about. It took ten minutes of emails to persuade the press office that, my incorruptible virtue aside, I have no desire to own one. Why should I want to be pursued by emails and tweets, while minding my own business in a garden centre, when I have a £10 handset that lies reliably dormant in the depths of my handbag?

Then a box from another PR arrived for me at the office. My misgivings about bribes and freebies instantly fled. Painfully I tumbled from the moral high ground for inside, swaddled in festive paper, were three large bottles of washing up liquid.

'I think,' said an older colleague, watching my excitement, 'that you need to throw everything in your life up in the air and start again.' I packed my booty reverently in my briefcase and I reflected on the shrunken horizons of middle age. There was a time when it would have required a date with the Vicar to induce that kind of glee. There was a time when I travelled the world with matching luggage and sought my highs on mountain tops.

Now, though, the Vicar's and my deferred anniversary treat was to walk hand-in-hand to watch the re-opening of the local Co-Op. I've since found daily joy in browsing the soups in the edgily re-ordered aisles, while the adrenalin that spurs me through each week is supplied by bellowing Gracie Fields songs with the Mothers Union singing group. Conjugal bliss, last night, was watching the last episode of Downton Abbey with a block of cheddar (we'd missed the original airing because it finished after our 10pm bedtime).

People worry about me, I know they do. A school-gate mother has prescribed a spray tan and a night at a cage fight to teach me how to live, but I'm concerned that the tan will discolour my new flannelette and that the cage fight will be on the night I need to put the bins out.

What they don't realise is that I am content. If I require instant gratification I empty the Hoover bag and sift for lost treasure in the fluff and, while they are sleeping off their night of living, I taste the morning satisfaction of tea in bed with the Vicar.

I have decided that shrunken horizons may be disconcerting to onlookers, but they are not to be feared, provided you own a decent pair of slippers to survey them in. Domestic life, if you peer closely enough, is full of minute thrills beside which smartphones and spray tans are mere gimmickry. And now... I'm off to open one of those freebie bottles of bubbly!

Come on, 'fess up! Where do you find middle-aged pleasures?










44 comments:

  1. Visiting my hair stylist and removing the grey about every two months or so, this is my guilty pleasure.

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  2. Just popped over from Iota's blog.
    Oooh, where to start? Middle-age pleasures. Spending all day at home on my own, writing, not speaking to anyone. (Aw, come on, I have a 20 year old, and 18 year old and a 10 year old, I've been "with a small person" for a long time).
    Not going out. I'm not shy; if you met me you'd think me "gregarious", "amusing" even, but let's face it, who needs to go out mid-week? On a school night?
    This has just prompted my next blog post. Thank you!

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    1. I look forward to reading it. I have to confess, I've never wanted to go out in the evening, weekday or weekend, so I have to blame misanthropy rather than middle age for that!

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  3. I wrote "middle-age". I can never decide which one is appropriate or correct. (I'm not a grammar nazi it just came out that way.)

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  4. De cluttering? Painting? Gardening? I'm full of middle aged cliches.

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  5. Memories become richer, the twinkle in one’s eye becomes stronger, experiences are felt more intensely and you begin to see and appreciate all the good things you have inherited.

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    1. That is a very persuasive sales pitch for the middle years.

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  6. Nothing, NOTHING, gives me more pure pleasure than settling down on the sofa at 7 o'clock with a fire roaring in the grate, a whiskey on the table next to me and my gardening/Christmas recipe books to hand. But the house has to be tidy for me to relax properly.

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  7. This time of year? Snuggling under a blanket on the sofa, watching The Choir, Garderner's World, or other such utterly harmless series.

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    1. Sofa blankets are, I agree, essential ingredients for a contented lifestyle. I have three.

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  8. Or joining other rowers for my weekly training session. At 45 I am considered very young at my rowing club!

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    1. Maybe that's the reason why I so enjoy the Mothers Union singing group. Youthful sensations are rare now...

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  9. Or eating way to much chocolate as middle-age spread is utterly beyond my control anyway....

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  10. Have you discovered Aldi? It feels like you're shopping in Beirut, but they get an ever changing stick of 'special buys' in twice a week. Imagine! The illicit thrill as you approach the store, never knowing what you might discover. This week they're stuffed full of lebkuchen and rye bread. Last week it was running and cycling gear. Amazing.

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    1. Oh golly, you're awakening in me urges! But I don't know if we have a local Aldi!

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    2. There is only an Aldo and a Waitrose in the little town where I live, so depending on the type of thrill I'm seeking, I can go with the exciting hidden treasures of Aldi or go posh yummy mummying at Waitrose.

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    3. Reading the adventures and confessions of the 'middle-aged' via their blogs!

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    4. Sounds as though you're too young for these kinds of thrills!

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    5. Well, I'll take that as a compliment, as I settle in for my aft. nap.

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  11. "that the cage fight will be on the night I need to put the bins out"

    Classic line! I love this post... and I love being middle-aged. Home is the biggest priority in life, and why not?

    Rather jealous of your washing-up liquid freebies...

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  12. My new thrill comes from painting furniture. I have a new bond with my mother over Annie Sloan paint and we call each other regularly to discuss the best colour / application method / waxing. My 21 year old self would never have done this. I don't know whether to be concerned or secretly pleased that, aged 30, I probably have more in common with my beloved mum than ever before!

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    1. You should be pleased. You've always painted a very appealing picture of your mother.

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  13. The curse of middle age....multi tasking...
    http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2013/11/the-curse-of-modern-living-part-8-multitasking/

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    1. Multi-tasking - something I've never been quite middle-aged enough to master.

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  14. A blessing of my middle age is that I've learnt how to say no to requests if I want to- I no longer feel guilty - it's amazing!

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    1. Now that's an achievement that really is worth ageing for - but, alas, not one I have managed yet!

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  15. I can smugly say that I turned down a paid guest post on my blog as it just wasn't interesting enough. So I am able to say no. However, I finally bought a smart phone in October and it took me about a week to fall in love with it. And it only took me one day to figure out how to answer the phone. At every stage I think I'm content but after experiencing the new widget (whatever it is) I can never go back.

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    1. Only one week? And only one day?! I was offered the chance to run an unpaid competition post on my blog with Tena Men as the prize. Was sorely tempted....

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  16. I first saw this via an exerpt on Mumsnet and as I read it I thought, there's only one person that could be. And I was right! Middle aged pleasures? Not really caring what anyone thinks any more. So liberating!

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    1. What intuition! Your pleasure is spot on - was thinking the same yesterday when I saw my 11yo agonising over playground opinions - although I don't think I'll ever get as good at it as I'd like to be.

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  17. Nothing better than a Hot Water Bottle :)

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  18. Actually to be horribly honest, I miss my youth. I want to go traveling again, I miss those mountain tops. Domesticity is driving me crazy, fucking crazy. I cant appreciate co op openings or washing up liquid. Doing housework makes me cry, I seriously cry because it makes me feel so oppressed. I just want to get my rucksack out and GO...somewhere new, somewhere wild and crazy where i cant speak the language and everyone is a stranger. I want leave behind the hot flashes and the grey hairs, the washing up and f**king Downton Abbey!! I long for freedom, flight and pure adrenalin...my husband just sits there in snoring in his armchair, my kids are irritatingly sensible..I cant see any way out and Im going nuts. I'll be 50 next year. I feel like something that was supposed to kick in never has...I thought I'd settle down I really did, but I am more restless than ever.

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    1. That was most heartfelt and I am so very sorry that you feel trapped like that. I've always pinned my hopes on my 50s being a time of wild living and liberation when my kids achieving independence will coincide with my Second Flowering. Maybe this could happen for you, even if you and your rucksack can only take off for a couple of weeks at a time. I do sincerely hope that you find a way.

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  19. Bed socks. I love and adore my bed socks (with a good book).... and I have just received extra sets of pairs for my birthday. Bliss. X

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  20. hmmm - difficult as a divorcee because then all that contentment disappears and you have to start behaving like a teenager - and that's really bad too.....Lx

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    1. Oh I am sorry. I certainly wouldn't be able to cope with that. I hope you find someone very soon to be excited about washing up liquid with you.

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  21. There's a great deal to be said for being content, Anna. It is much under rated and under strived for. I like silence and my lap top. Peace.:)

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    1. I rate contentment as a goal above happiness which I think is a transitory, misleading thing.

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