You see it’s like a secret society and, it’s only when you tumble headlong into some hideous side effect of being ancient, that other people decide to reveal it’s pretty much to be expected. First off, almost overnight, you find yourself suffering from exhaustion at the slightest exertion. You know how you like to laugh at old people needing naps; well stop it, because before you know it you are going to be snoozing the day away. It seems mere minutes ago that I was out carousing until the wee hours. Arriving at work bright and early, armed with nothing more than caffeine, ready to go after only a couple of hours sleep. Nowadays, if I don’t get the full 8 hours, it’s enough to induce a sleep deprived panic attack.
While we are on the subject, get your socialising in while you can. Drinks after work, weekends of drunken debauchery – forget it! These days, hangovers are so bad and last so long, it’s enough to see me take an oath of sobriety. I reckon whoever it was instigated the Prohibition all those years ago was over 50. They probably thought, if a couple of gin and tonics make me feel like I need to be on a life support machine then I’ll be damned if I’m watching anybody else having a good time. Yes, having to pace yourself like a recovering alcoholic can make you a little bit bitter.
Enjoy your moments in the sun, my friends, because another thing that nobody warns you about is how you will become invisible. You cease to exist for young people, who probably think you’re more or less dead already, stubbornly refusing to go quietly like they did in Logan’s Run. If you're a woman, it's even worse, prepare to be trampled on, dashed to the ground or have doors slammed in your face, as men’s brains seem programmed to see only the bright young things. Whoever dreamed up the notion of cougars and all the other ridiculous older woman acronyms was either deluded or demented. I suspect some poor woman over 50, desperately trying to reclaim her long gone glory days, as she sobbed into her cocoa at 9pm.
Your female friends will become more and more important to you as you cling to the wreckage that was once your life. But I warn you, even that is not without its hazards. The total horror of realising that your friends are discussing menopause symptoms rather than the new Chanel season, can feel like a heavy blow. Worse still is when you find yourself joining in, desperate for any reassurance that you are not in fact losing your mind. Where once Christmas might have summoned up thoughts of little
black dresses and frivolous shoes, these days its spanx and shoes that don’t leave you fearful that your toes are being amputated; as your feet swell, desperate to escape the confines of your stilettos.
Those of you who don’t have to think about your weight and, if you gain a few pounds, so what – you just stop eating and it falls straight off – Ha! Cherish these moments because you will turn 50 and suddenly the very sight of a piece of cake will see you gain 15 pounds. All the tricks that you have devised over the years to get yourself back to your fighting weight, you might as well burn them. Ever wondered why all those women of a certain age live on salads? I’ll tell you why, it’s either that have your jaw wired up or suffer the indignity of literally bursting at the seams.
I remember when clothes were a joy and it would take 15 minutes tops to get ready. Nowadays leaving the house involves trying on every item of clothing that I own. I find myself asking, is it too short, too tight, too young? Some days I’m tempted to convert to Islam just so that I can wear a burka.
I’m sorry if I have alarmed you lovely young things but you know what they say, forewarned is forearmed. Anyway, I’m fighting back. In the style of Jenny Joseph and her glorious poem ‘When I’m an old woman’, I’m going to embrace my new state of invisibility and wreak havoc. I intend to traumatise as many young people as I can with my unseemly behaviour. And the next time some man pushes me to one side, he’s going to feel the sturdy toe of my comfy Doc Martin shoe straight to the shin.