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?