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!

Final Fling before Forty…

Gangnam_Style_PSY_28logo

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!

The clock is ticking…

teeth whitening

teeth whitening (Photo credit: torbakhopper)

27 days, 9 hours and 3 minutes until the end of my thirties.  Ok, so I’m going to have a party, celebrate (what exactly?) and I’m sure I’ll feel no different to the day before.  But something has changed, is changing…ever so subtly.  The signs are there: my obsession with “what to do next?”, my over-interest in the yellowing of my teeth and the deepening of the wrinkles on my forehead and the hated frown lines – to name a few of the subtle shifts in my perception of the world and my place in it.

Look, I’m not going to get all philosophical.  Ageing is rubbish and we all know that – well at least those of us approaching 40 do.  So today, I am going to get my whingeing out the way – I’m going to address the physical imperfections which are bugging me most and then going forward, I promise I’ll mention them only rarely (or at least not daily!)

Let’s start with the yellow teeth.  Someone said to me today that when they moved back from Australia recently, they noticed how yellow the Brits’ teeth are compared with the Australians (and of course the Americans).  I’ve never really given my teeth much thought until recently, but about a month ago, I started to obsess about their colour – everywhere I turned there was a mirror of sorts reflecting back to me this familiar face with these grotesque yellow teeth – like the archetypal witch in scary childhood fairy tales.  So I acted and I’m currently undergoing whitening courtesy of some deeply unattractive plastic moulds of my teeth and some chemical which I can’t help but think is not something you should have in your mouth.  I have taken to wearing these new accessories in the evening which has a surprising and not altogether unpleasant side effect – I put them in at about 8pm and from then on I can’t drink (wine) or eat anything, a bonus for both my middle class alcohol problem (if the newspapers are to be believed) and for my ever-increasing nearly-middle-age spread.

To those who have not tried the delights of whitening, let me explain…when you put the trays in your mouth, you are unable to speak without lisping; your children look at you with genuine fear; you obsessively measure the whiteness of your teeth in all manner of lights, hoping to see some radical change in colour. I’m sure my teeth are whiter – or less yellow – than a week ago but it might just be wishful thinking…

My other physical obsession at the moment is the wrinkles that are appearing at an alarmingly fast rate on my face.  Ok so I’ve always liked the sun – so part of the responsibility is mine.  However, if one more person tells me that they are laughter lines or the lines add character, I will not be responsible for my actions.   Please explain to me how one gets laugher lines on one’s forehead and above the bridge of one’s nose? Or what kind of a character my lines show me to be?  A miserable, grumpy, frowning sod I can hear you say – again, quite possibly this does apply to me…however, I can’t change the habit of a lifetime now and every day the lines get deeper, more entrenched and more difficult to disguise – I can’t even fill them with foundation now (like some plasterer’s job).  And as for the horrendous discovery last week that my lipstick had “bled” into micro-lines around my mouth….well, frankly, it is more than I can take.  I finally have to accept that not only do I have to use lipliner just to keep my lipstick on my mouth and not half way up my face but also I have to accept that lipliner is not one of those airy fairy, waste of money products that painted dragons on cosmetic counters always try to persuade you that you need.

Feel better now…although I do need reassurance that I am not the only person who feels like this…comments please.  Anyway, must dash I’ve got teeth to whiten, lips to line and frowns to fill!