Years I have waited for my Second Flowering to commence. Once I had shed the scent of Napisan, I thought, I would rise resplendent from the mire of motherhood and bedazzle Waitrose check-outs with new radiance. An epilator and a selection of brand new vests have been on standby for the Moment when it happens. The trouble is, it shows no sign of happening.
And so I decide to hurry things along a little. I invite a friend round with a mascara stick. She shows me what to do with lash clamps and gel pens. She turns my eyelids blue and silver and fills in crevices with pink mortar.
Over the ensuing days, with lesser skill, I replicate her efforts. And, as I face the world with Cleopatra eyes, things do indeed begin to happen.
The churchwarden comes hurrying up to me as I jive round my brolly at her 50th wedding anniversary bash. 'That man over there,' she giggles, 'has just pointed you out and said, 'she's going to be a beauty when she grows up'!' I peer at an elderly gentleman hunched myopically in a distant corner of the church. It must be my mascara, I think. 'It's because you're dancing like a six-year-old,' explains my daughter.
I'm chatting to a fellow mother under a lamp post outside the scout hall. A car crawls along the kerb and comes to a halt alongside us. Two youths peer out of the passenger window. 'We're being picked up!' marvels my companion. It must be my mascara, I think. Then the car slides into reverse and the youths lean out to greet a blonde who's been awaiting them in the shadows further up.
I'm discussing bathroom cleaning products and Syria with the man at the Boots check-out. 'You will forever linger in my mind!' he grins as he hands me a voucher for anti-ageing cream. It must be my mascara, I think. 'It's because you went on so much about your black mould,' hisses my daughter.
I am becoming disillusioned with Second Flowerings. I've spent £15 on beauty aids, but no heads turn in the Communion queue and the Vicar is oblivious to my coal-black lashes. Even the young man who pursues me through Co-op turns out to be returning a tin of Vaseline I've dropped.
Then, as I serve teas to school children in the church hall, a Year 6 girl peers at me closely. 'You're wearing mascara!' she remarks. I am jubilant. 'You're the first person who's noticed,' I say. She looks at me pityingly. 'Anyone would notice,' she replies. 'It's running all down your face.'
Has your Second Flowering begun yet?