Frankie Says Relax…


música (Photo credit: hang the t-shirt)

Having been asked recently by my middle child whether I qualify as “elderly” and having reminded him that I hadn’t even reached middle age yet and that I had every intention of at least paying lip service to that stage of life, I got to thinking about what it is that I actually miss about being young. I have spent so much of the last few months angsting about turning 40 and all that being that age entails that I haven’t really thought about what it is I actually would like back from my late teens and twenties…

Let’s get the obvious out of the way – my face and body. You see I never appreciated what I had in those days – no wrinkles, the fresh face and the ability to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without gaining a pound. I think Mother Nature has got it all wrong – we should have the body and face of a 40 plus woman in our twenties and then the process should reverse in our forties because then we would really appreciate it and look after it. As it is, we take it all for granted in our twenties – eat entire packets of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers in one sitting (which I can still do by the way), not take our make-up off for days in succession and exercise once a year – and then Mother Nature sticks two fingers up to us in our forties and presents us with what I now see every morning in the mirror and in the deafening silence when I walk past a building site.

Something I really miss about my teens/twenties is the feeling of immortality, invincibility. It was me against the world and I definitely had the upper hand. At that age, we throw caution to the wind, we take risks, we have adventures. Not so in your forties – throwing caution to the wind is having a take-away on a Friday evening, opening that second bottle of wine or perhaps dancing “gangnam style” with a whole load of similarly-aged, equally “reckless” people (well, at least, that’s what happened at my 40th). We are so much better at weighing up the risks in our forties and this can make it very difficult to be spontaneous or take chances. Although I did promise myself on my fortieth birthday, that I would take chances…perhaps this blog is my first steps?

In a funny way, I also miss the emotional highs and lows. Especially in your late teens, life is a rollercoaster (as Ronan Keating sang) and although those lows could be pretty damn low, that emotional lability did make you feel very alive. One minute you are totally and utterly in love, besotted and the next the object of your affections is a complete and utter b******! Through your thirties and beyond, cynicism creeps in and all that up and down becomes very tiring. Perhaps on reflection, this is not something I really miss – it really was very tiring indeed and I guess now I am much more emotionally stable (although I do recognise that this is relative and there are those out there who might not agree with my self-analysis!)

One of the things I miss the most is the music and the dancing. I still love listening to all the music that is in the charts now (god, I sound like I’m 140 rather than 40) and there is nothing more I like than an evening of drinking and dancing with my friends. However, I am acutely aware that I have probably, in my kids’ eyes, become a bit of an embarrassment on the dance floor (parents dancing – hideous!). I also really miss all those great tunes from the 80s and early 90s – there is nothing for me more evocative of my youth than when a huge 80s hit comes on the radio. Those tunes bring the memories flooding back and largely they are wonderful memories. My children may (and do) look on in utter horror when I shriek out “Ride on Time” but you know what, I don’t care!

Anyway, enough looking back and wishing…time for me to put a tape in my Walkman, put on my “Frankie says Relax” t-shirt and pour myself a cinzano and lemonade!

The Meaning of Shoes

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm ...

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm stiletto heels. Category:Shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little while ago a reader of my blog asked if I could blog about shoes.  Many people might think that a bit strange – shoes, what about them?  A shoe is just a shoe, right – wrong, very wrong.  For the first 30 years or so of a woman’s life, shoes are just shoes.  Then quite suddenly they take on a whole new meaning, shoes become SHOES. For a lady of a certain age shoes become an all-encompassing obsession.

My personal epiphany, my moment of shoe enlightenment, happened in my mid-thirties when I was given my first pair of truly desirable shoes. Up until that point, shoes were just those things I wore on my feet – a necessary clothing item which I tried somewhat inconsistently to match to the rest of my attire. In fact, I didn’t even like new shoes – I hated the “wearing-in” process – I would happily have paid someone to wear my shoes in for me and then pass them back for me to wear.

It took a major shift for me to appreciate shoes and I am not for a moment suggesting that it is the cost of a pair of shoes that focuses the mind (although in my case, as the queen of bargains, it certainly helped, and with my lack of shoe interest it was going to take something quite dramatic to convert me). My moment came when I was bought (by my very generous husband) a pair of shoes with a red sole (can I add that this was very much a one-off) – now you know how significant that red sole is?  That sexy little flash of the red underside of your impossibly high-heeled shoes which signifies to all present – especially all other women – that yes, you own a pair of Christian Louboutins. You understand the power of shoes. It doesn’t matter that they are hideously uncomfortable or that they have cost more than a month’s grocery shop – you have your place at the top of the shoe hierarchy assured.

An aside – it reminds me of that apocryphal story of the lady who took her beloved Louboutins to a shoe repair shop to have some new heel tips put on and when she came to pick the shoes up, the repair man said “I noticed that the red bottoms of your shoes were wearing away and looking rather scuffed so I’ve replaced them with some of ours” – now that is tantamount to treason.

So what is this obsession with shoes all about for women of a certain age?  It has nothing to do with the fact that men apparently find women’s ankles sexy – any old high heel will do for that purpose unless unfortunately you have “cankles” in which case, apart from radical cosmetic surgery, there is nothing you can do.  It will come as no surprise to you that I have my own theory which I’m sure probably does not stack up on any deep, psychological level but here goes: put simply rather than draw attention to our increasingly leathery faces, we would rather draw the eye to the leather on our feet.  Put bluntly, you can’t really tell the difference between the ankles and feet of a 20 year old woman and a 40 year old woman, whereas the same cannot be said for faces.  Hence the “shoe epiphany” – I can’t really do that much about looking older at eye level but I can wear a damn sexy pair of beautiful shoes and that will make me feel a whole lot better, and it does.

I am not saying that you have to spend a fortune on ferociously expensive shoes – far from it – but the shift is more the realisation that shoes have the power to make you feel great about yourself.  Just because I am forty and no longer ( for public decency’s sake (and my children’s)) going to wear a micro-mini skirt, a boob tube or a backless, strapless little number, does not mean that I can’t wear a pair of utterly gorgeous, actually very classy (well-heeled, if you like), fiendishly sexy pair of shoes! If I am teetering towards middle age, I am going to do it in a well-shod way.

2012 – Reflections

New Years Eve 2011 London

New Years Eve 2011 London (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

So as we hurtle (or in my case limp due to age, a bad knee and the fact that I’m currently lurgy-ridden) towards 2013, I thought I would wrap up 2012 (“put it to bed”as those corporate types like to say) with a few reflections.  There is lots I could say about world events, economies, tragedies, successes and I’m sure I could do this in a serious fashion but I’m going to leave that up to the broadsheets and magazines who love nothing more in the period between Christmas and New Year than compiling endless lists about the year gone by – the highs, the lows, the events that shaped our world etc. No, I am going to focus on what directly affected me (not that I’m ego-centric or anything) and as you would expect much of what I say will be bordering on trivial and utterly irrelevant from a world perspective.

Firstly, this was the year that I turned 40.  Admittedly this is of no consequence to anyone except me and actually of very limited interest to anyone except perhaps a handful of family and close friends.  However, since I started this whole blogging lark in the run-up to turning twice twenty, it seems only right that I should mention it first. I have to admit that I currently feel closer to turning twice forty than twenty but putting that aside, I have to say that my experience of reaching this landmark age has been largely positive.  We had lots of celebrations and everyone was really nice to me in November (the month of the actual turning twice twenty) so I can’t complain.  I’ve decided that being 40 is infinitely preferable to 39 which is undoubtedly the most non-age of all.  I am feeling quite comfortable in my own skin (although there does seems to be rather more of it than I might like on my face in the form of wrinkles which I am sure were not there 12 months ago) and I definitely feel invigorated and determined to do more with my life.  So watch out, 2013, big things are going to happen.

2012 also saw the end of various activities which I have to say I shall not miss in the slightest.  No more nappy changing – hurray – I can leave the house without that tell-tale shoulder bag containing nappies, wipes, Sudocrem, nappy sacs, foldable changing mat and various toys to distract my child whilst I wrestle with the hell that is nappy-changing in public facilities. The other thing I have said goodbye to after 8 years is baby music classes – I know I am not the only person who actually only really enjoyed the first ever music class they did with their first child (novelty value) but then endured countless thousands more because if I didn’t go, then I felt that whole parent-guilt thing going on about not doing enough “activities” with my child.  I really admire those people who teach these baby/toddler music classes – how do they stay happy and smiley all the time.  I feel dangerously unstable after just half an hour once a week of singing “wind the bobbin up”.

Now to arts and culture – you know me, a proper little culture vulture.  2012 was the year of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and I reckon that with the exception of only one of my friends, I am probably the only person in the world who owns a copy but has not read it at all.  I don’t feel like I’ve missed out, actually if I’m honest I feel a bit smug that I have managed to resist the allure of this “mummy porn”. The other great cultural revelation of 2012 was that one man wonder PSY and his unmissable “Gangnam Style”.  I don’t care how old I am but I can safely say that some of my funniest moments this year have been either watching others or participating myself in some rendition of “Gangnam Style” – that “horse” dance has been the greatest leveller for all ages and all backgrounds.

It would be remiss of me not to mention “Great” Britain in this year.  Not only did we have the Jubilee as a wonderful excuse to indulge in extreme levels of partying nationwide, but we also managed to pull off the greatest show on earth with the Olympics and believe me that although this was obviously a surprise to many from other countries, the greatest surprise was for us, the British.  We are not a nation prone to hyperbole and excessive enthusiasm.  Indeed, on occasion, we seem to enjoy revelling in serious cynicism and an expectation that we shall fall short of any targets we set ourselves.  The Olympics took us by surprise – what an enormous success! Perhaps best summed up by our three gold medals in the athletics stadium in that glorious 45 minutes on Super Saturday.  Despite all the phenomenal talent on show from team GB and all the other competitors, it is worth mentioning that in 2012, it was a DOG that won the popular TV talent contest, Britain’s Got Talent – this would only happen in the UK.

So there we go – that’s 2012 wrapped up, except to say that it is raining again and that is the other record we have broken this year – the wettest ever on records. It reminds me of a statistic I read in The Sunday Telegraph that Britons use their lawnmowers for only 4 hours on average in a year – says it all really. However, think on the positives – what on earth would we talk about if we had wall-to-wall sunshine all year round?

Happy New Year to all and I’ll “see” you on the other side!

What’s your job?

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

At my fortieth birthday party, my husband described me (in his speech) as a collector of careers.  He said this very affectionately but what this rather euphemistic term actually means is that I am a jack of all trades and a master of none.  It is certainly true that I have tested the waters in many different fields and have definitely not, in that dreaded phrase, “fulfilled my potential”.

I was thinking about careers today when my son asked me over breakfast what I did for a living.   Tempted as I was to point out to him that it was staring him in the face and that looking after him and his siblings was a full-time, grossly underpaid profession, with unpaid, daily overtime, no prospects of promotion and constant appraisals (“Mummy, why haven’t you washed my football kit?”, “Mummy, you were 30 seconds late picking me up from school again”, “You know I hate fish pie”) without any hope of those new trendy corporate 360 degree appraisals (“Son, Why do you insist on calling me mate? “Son, what did your last slave die of?”).

While all this was going through my head, I think I sighed and said that my job was looking after them at the moment – the best job in the world (I think  my fingers might have been crossed at that point).  My son then asked me whether I had ever worked (I’m assuming that he felt that looking after them did not count as “work”).  I took him through a potted career history moving seamlessly from banking, through speechwriting, through teaching to life coaching – even if I say so myself, I really have managed an alphabet of careers in my forty years.  At this point, he lost interest and turned his attention to flicking honey cheerios at his sister.

What he didn’t ask is what I wanted to do in the future when they no longer needed me to be there 24/7.  I wouldn’t of course expect him to be remotely interested in this question at his young age but it got me thinking.  I know what I want to do but I just don’t know if I can and how to get myself started – I want to write and I guess this blogging lark is my small beginnings.  I’ve always wanted to write and while some dream of being in films, on TV, being a doctor, lawyer…whatever, I always from a very young age wanted to see something I had written in print with some glamorous pseudonym on the front cover.  Perhaps this is the year when I finally start to put the wheels in motion for this particular ambition – to be honest, right now, I’d settle for writing a column for any publication at all – Deep Sea Divers Monthly or Hair Removal Weekly – not fussy!

What did you want to do when you grew up? I remember my sister, at about age 5, having very clear and very lofty career aspirations – she wanted to be a train driver and if that wasn’t possible, a burglar.  I can tell you that she is definitely not the former and as far as I can be sure not the latter either. I can’t remember what I wanted to be at that age – I think my main ambition was to make it to Mary in the Nativity (never realised I’m afraid) but I do know that as I got older and started choosing subjects that would influence a career decision, I was very envious of those who knew exactly what career path they wanted to follow.  I would have loved to have been able to announce airily that I was going to be a human rights lawyer or a neurosurgeon or particle physicist but I never really had a clear career path.  I just knew that I hoped I would end up writing.

So for the moment I will get on with the day job (what I do for a living as far as my children are concerned) and keep hoping that one day I shall fulfil my potential (there’s that expression again that I absolutely loathe) and who knows perhaps that opportunity to write for Beer Glass Collectors Monthly will one day drop onto my desk!

Back to life, back to reality…


40. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am 40.  You may have been slightly concerned by my blogging silence over the last two weeks but rest assured nothing awful has happened to me as a result of reaching this milestone birthday – no, in fact, quite the opposite, everything is totally as before and it has just taken me a while to recover from all the celebrations.

I didn’t expect anything earth-shattering to happen and I have to admit that actually I’ve rather enjoyed the whole “40” malarkey.  So far I pronounce 40 to be “fine”. If I’m honest, I feel a sense of gravitas which was definitely not there at 39.  Indeed, I feel like this is the start of something rather than the end of something. A bit like new year’s resolutions, I have decided that my forties are my decade for finally achieving something professionally.  I feel a new sense of confidence and assertion. I guess I feel much less concerned about what others think of me – I don’t give a ****.

However, despite all this slightly concerning self-analysis, reality has been prodding at the edges of my newly-reached 40-ness. I was brought back to earth with a jolt 2 days after my birthday when I received in the post an invitation to go for an ultrasound screening for”dangerous plaque build-up or blockage” in my arteries. I have never received such an invitation (if one can call it that) before.  Clearly, when you hit 40, alarms sound on every database in the country and suddenly overnight I have entered a whole new group of people – those at risk of age-related disease. I’m not sure I am so keen on this side of being 40.  I do feel that whoever it is that sends such “invitations” might have the decency to leave a respectable period of time between the day on which I turn 40 and the issuing of the “invitation” – may I suggest a couple of months at least rather than 2 days.

Secondly, despite my new found assertiveness, I still find myself unable to request that those working in customer services whom I’ve never met before call me “Mrs….” rather than by my christian name.  This may sound slightly ridiculous but this is one of my bugbears – the customer service agent who starts his conversation on the phone with me by asking “Can I call you…christian name…” – I want to shout” No you bloody can’t” but find myself meekly saying “that’s fine” and then wincing for the next 20 minutes when he/she prefaces every sentence with the repetition of my christian name. I know many of you are probably thinking that I am being utterly pathetic and trivial but I can’t help it, it just infuriates me and I promised myself that when I hit 40, I would “just say no”.

Thirdly, on a more serious note, I have had my bank account and my Facebook account hacked into and even a new bank account fraudulently created in my name.  Nothing like this has ever happened to me before and it has been a real eye-opener.  I could now bore on for Britain about internet security – I won’t but suffice to say it has been a total pain in the neck and I could cheerfully strangle (in a manner of speaking) whoever it is that has caused me this first real test of my forties. Last night, when I discovered my Facebook account had been accessed, I decided to take a new approach and take it as a compliment that someone wanted my identity so much that they have decided to be me!  I am being flippant, of course, and it has been a total bore having to secure all my internet activity and accounts again.

I’ll leave the last word to my 3 year old daughter.  When she is asked how old her mother is, she replies (and this is after relentless training on my part), that she will be 4 at her next birthday and I am 4 with a 0 on the end – now that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Final Fling before Forty…


Gangnam_Style_PSY_28logo (Photo credit: KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea)

So in exactly 12 hours I shall be 40 – apparently I was born at ten past two in the morning.  Seems as good a time as any. I have to admit that at the moment – and that is key – I am rather enjoying this “turning 40” malarkey. My husband and I held a big 40th birthday party on Saturday evening – enormous fun and proved all the important things to me such as I am not too old to drink ridiculous amounts, to dance all night, to stay up until 3.30am and not be desperate for my bed (this final one was, I feel, my greatest achievement as increasingly I do find myself nodding off at an embarrassingly early time in the evening – usually with the first bongs of the 10 o’clock news (am I the only one who finds these incredibly soporific?))

However, it is all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when partying hard at our age – you can still drink, you can still dance, you can still do really stupid things (like on Saturday evening, paddling in the pond at 2am and downing shots) but you can’t handle the next morning and the hangover.  It is all too easy to blame it on the kids – have to get up early, have to get breakfast and try to function as a parent – but this is just rubbish – in fact, the truth is, you can’t handle the hangover because you are no longer 21 and your body is not designed to withstand the pressures of a night for a 21 year old.  Nature is so cruel – she lets you believe you can still do it, you swan around feeling omnipotent and invincible (helped along by numerous glasses of whatever your tipple is) and then it all comes crashing down the next day.  Not only do you have to suffer the physical effects of your excesses but also the humiliating realisation that things that you thought were hilarious the night before are actually not that befitting of someone approaching middle age.  There really isn’t anything that would make a group of young people cringe more than the sight of fifty odd people in their late thirties, forties and fifties doing the “gangnam style” dance. It seems to me that it is crucial at 40 to only have still photography at any party where you are in danger of thinking that dancing in a certain way is cool or hysterically amusing because the idea of having such poor taste on film is really too much to bear.

It reminds me of when I was picking the music for my party and my friend’s son was helping with the “technical side” – my friend and I got slightly carried away by a rerun of 80s and 90s  classics such as “Pump up the Jam” and “Ride on Time”.  My friend’s son watched in horror at the demented dancing of his mother and her equally demented friend and shook his head in disbelief as I tried to explain how this music was the forerunner of what he listens to today and it was mould-breaking etc.  I could tell he wasn’t buying my philosophical approach to the impact of 80s and 90s music on the substance of the music of today’s youth. I guess the only consolation is that in 30 years time, I’m sure he will be having a similar conversation with his children about how innovative and ground-breaking the music of 2012 was. Anyway, regardless of his horror and complete incomprehension, I am not embarrassed to say that both those tracks were played on Saturday night and were floor-fillers!

So next time I write, I shall be 40…I am not expecting much to change except perhaps a sense of relief that the waiting is over!


Once upon a time I had a brain, actually to be more precise I had a memory – in fact, I had quite a good memory.  I was rather proud of my memory – my family used to say it was elephantine.  Not now, more goldfish than elephant. Actually, I’m struggling to remember what I was going to write this blog post about…

That’s right – memory.  Throughout my thirties, I airily dismissed my inability to retain the most basic of facts and information as “nappy brain”.  As I approach 40 (next week), this no longer seems a viable excuse – I no longer have any child in nappies, nor have I changed a nappy for the best part of 18 months.  Anyway, I never really bought into that “nappy brain” thing – I’d like to think it was just nature’s way of making those early years of 3 children under 5 marginally more bearable with a sort of brain fog – rather like one of those soft-focus photographs, slightly blurry round the edges – “nappy brain” is nature’s survival mechanism.

image of brain broken up into separate lobes

image of brain broken up into separate lobes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what’s happening now?  My stomach lurches when one of my children suggests playing pelmanism.  This was my favourite game as a child – I found it so easy, could remember exactly where everything was.  Not now.  Now, I have to face the ritual humiliation of trying my best but still being thrashed by a three year old.  As for that game with objects on a tray which you have a minute to remember before they are removed and you have to recall them – well, I struggle to remember the tray.

Names.  I have come to dread introductions.  As hard as I think I am concentrating, immediately I am introduced to someone, their name has passed through the increasingly empty space between my ears and gone again.  How difficult can it be to remember someone’s name?  My greatest fear is then having to introduce “whathisname” to someone else and I find myself frantically going through the alphabet (in my head), hoping that the letter will spark of a memory of a name – A – Archie, Andrew…no…B – Ben, Brian…no… C…and so on.  Tell me I’m not the only person who does this?  In fact, I no longer count sheep when I go to bed – I am a raging insomniac – I just go through the alphabet trying to remember people’s names! Is this an age thing?  People say it is because I have so much else to remember – bla, bla, bla.  I don’t buy that – I’m sure I had far more to remember when I was younger and at university or whatever. Those who have read previous blogs I have posted might be tempted to say perhaps it is “mother’s little helper” – the glass of wine that smoothes out the edges at the end of the day. I don’t buy that either.

Whatever it is, I don’t think I am alone.  As long as I can remember my own name and those of my husband and children, I am not going to worry…although I have noticed an increasing tendency to refer to my children by all three children’s names – something my father always used to do and which I found intensely irritating.  I get it now. So if you are introduced to me, don’t be offended if I don’t introduce you to anyone else – I can’t remember your name and it’s nothing personal!

To B… or not to B…?


Wrinkles (Photo credit: scoutjacobus)

To B(otox) or not to B(otox) – that is the question? Actually this is a surprisingly easy one for me and perhaps given my tendency to whinge at every possible opportunity about my wrinkles, my answer is surprising – no way, Jose!  Just too scared to shove botulinum into my face and anyway I’m bound to be allergic to it.  Look, I’m as sick as the next person of those sanctimonious people who bang on about growing old gracefully – as if – but equally I’m absolutely certain I don’t want to grow old looking either as if I am perpetually stuck in a force 9 gale or unable to lift my eyebrows more than a micro-millimetre (not visible to the naked eye).

Just because I’ve decided to grow old (dis)gracefully, does not mean that I am enjoying the inexorable disappearance of youth.  Yes, it really narks me when some young whippersnapper on the makeup counter not only tries to sell me foundation which is nothing short of something more usually found on a building site but also suggests I try some fancy new night cream for women in their late forties/early fifties.  “39” I want to scream and as a matter of pride, I ignore her advice and buy the night cream for women in the early stages of ageing (although I  find it harder to ignore her expression which is clearly shouting at me – “too late for that love, more serious action required’).

Talking of building sites, do you remember when you would get a wolf-whistle when you walked past one?  OK, so that stopped a considerable number of years ago for me although embarrassingly for the first few years after it stopped, I still found myself turning round when I heard a wolf-whistle (part habit, part hope), to then have to turn back abruptly, humiliated.  In my twenties, I would hark on about how sexist it was, how degrading – blah, blah, blah…but you know what, I’d be thrilled now if someone wolf-whistled at me – it would put a spring in my slightly less sprightly step.  It’s all symptomatic of the same thing – you never appreciate what you’ve got in life until you no longer have it.

There is no denying that some mornings my face looks increasingly like it has been through a shredder and other mornings, no amount of make-up can disguise the bags (more like over-sized suitcases) beneath my eyes but the truth is I’m actually much more content at this age now and I know this slight obsession with ageing is just a temporary phase for me, a reflection on the past and anticipation of the future at one of life’s landmark stages.

So keep your poison-filled syringes away from me – I’ll take the laughter lines (euphemism for wrinkles) and I’ll keep laughing – there’s no way back now! There’s no chance of ironing out my wrinkles but they are really just that  – a minor difficulty/snag in life’s rich tapestry.

CORE blimey…

I don’t think I am going to be alone in this one although I suspect this again is something only relevant those born before 1980.  Am I the only person who is baffled by the command to “engage my core”? Everywhere I go, every article I read about exercise is banging on about your “core”.  This mythical part of the anatomy is somewhere in the middle I guess judging from its name but further than that I can’t really speculate.

Now maybe I’m wrong but I don’t remember anyone talking about your “core” in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s – this is a very modern phenomenon.  As far as I am aware, the human form has not anatomically altered during the last decade (although my own personal anatomical form is not what it was 20 years ago!).  Is the “core” a recent biological discovery?  Call me cynical, but I can’t help think it is yet another of those new-fangled expressions which exercise types like to throw at us to confuse us and make us believe that we are inadequate in the strength/fitness department.  As for “engaging my core” – that just sounds painful and I have to admit when asked to do so, I nod sagely and do precisely nothing – mainly because I have no idea what to do.

On the subject of exercise, I must just share with you my most recent strategy for appearing to be exercising when I am not.  I don’t think this is a particularly radical strategy and I suspect quite a few people I know employ a similar strategy but won’t admit to it.  About once a week I will don tracksuit bottoms and trainers and one of those micro-fleece tops (so beloved of exercise types), not wear any make up and step out to face the world, a fully paid up member of that smug subset of the human race, “sporty (and hence healthy) types”. It amuses me no end that to become a member of this elite group of beings, you need to do nothing else other than look the part and perhaps the greatest irony for me is that in order to achieve this look, you really don’t have to bother much at all with your outfit, make-up etc. Of course the truth is that the closest I get to exercise on these days is crouching down to do up the laces on my otherwise under-utilised trainers.  To make sure that I give the most impact on these days, I do not change out of my sports gear all day hence ensuring that I give off a nonchalant air of casual sportiness to the maximum number of people.  Although if you were to ask me what sport/exercise I was undertaking, you would find that I would answer with the deliberately ambiguous, “sorry must run…”

So next time you see all those women in exercise attire and you feel that pang of guilt at your own sloth, just remember it is quite possible that appearances are deceiving you and that the only thing that these women are engaging are the gears in their gas-guzzling 4x4s and that rather like you, they do not get even close to “engaging their core”.

Curso de Instructor de Pilates

Curso de Instructor de Pilates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking a “gift” horse in the mouth…

Gift Box

Gift Box (Photo credit: Maeflower72)

I hate the word “gift” – I can’t give you any rationale except that I don’t like it – much like I hate the word “doily” (admittedly not a word in everyday use but horrid all the same).  I much prefer the word “present” – altogether more classy.  As someone who has never ever purchased a Christmas present before 1st December, I am most concerned by my recent behaviour – I have actually purchased at least 8 Christmas presents and all in the first half of October.  This seems to me to be yet another sign of my impending forties.  I have always prided myself on my “laissez-faire” attitude to Christmas shopping and, if I’m honest, privately ridiculed (with like-minded allies) those who start shopping 3 months before the big day.

This worrying new trend I am displaying is actually part of a much bigger picture of most concerning 40s-like behaviour.  I am utterly addicted to any number of luxury “sale” websites – scanning new promotions on a daily (scarily sometimes twice daily) basis – Achica, Cocosa, Groupon….and so the list goes on.  Liking a bargain is not new behaviour for me – I am that person who cannot just take a compliment, “I love that new dress you’re wearing” without saying “Dirt cheap, bought it for £20, reduced from £150”.  The new behavioural trend is my determination to buy “giftware” (actually that is even worse than the word ‘gift’) and “knick-knacks” for which I have no use, place or if I’m honest any real desire.

This morning, I took this behaviour, until now just a guilty secret between me, the computer and my credit card, to a whole new level – I visited a craft/gift/floristry wholesaler.  Yes me who got thrown out permanently from her sewing lessons at the age of 12 because I broke the sewing machine 3 times in one lesson (something of which I am quite proud); yes me whose idea of floristry is to keep the elastic band around the flowers I’ve bought so that I don’t have to arrange them in the vase; yes me who hates the word “gift” and ridicules people who shop for Christmas in October. Yes, little me, very uncrafty me, went of her own accord to a craft/gift/floristry wholesaler on her own and found it overwhelmingly exciting.

So thrilling did I find it that I had to share my enthusiasm with someone who would understand – I called my great friend who also loves such places and who, and this is no coincidence, also turned 40 this year.  I just wanted to grab my trolley and do my own version of “supermarket sweep” – grabbing all manner of useless knick-knacks, giftware, silk flowers (why?), candles (you can never have enough) and most bizarre of all, ribbon (there must be a name for people who feel compelled to buy ribbon…?).

I can only hope this new trait of mine is just a passing phase, a blip on my way to 40.  However, I have to admit to being slightly concerned that once this Christmas is done and dusted, I am going to start shopping for next Christmas in the January sales….help me!