There are certain things guaranteed to make you feel old. One of them is when your children reach certain milestones, such as graduation, passing a driving test, growing a beard (the day my daughter grew a beard was quite the watershed moment for both of us). Another one is that moment when you say something and the people who understand what you’re talking about can be divided neatly by date of birth. For example:
Mum: ‘Give it a rest; you sound like a broken record!’ Child: ‘What’s a record?’
Grandma: ‘Look at that hole. Those socks need darning!’ Grandson: ‘What’s darning?’
or, my particular favourite,
Me: ‘I can’t understand why Maggie wasn’t locked up for what she did to the miners.’ My young daughter: ‘What’s a miner?’
That last one might actually be in a category all of its own.
But recently I have been forced to admit that I may have been developing some of the 7 signs of ageing. And by ‘recently’ I mean ‘for several years’ and by ‘may have’ I mean ‘have definitely, by the bucketload’.
This ‘seven signs of ageing’ thing seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon. I don’t remember hearing about it before Oil of Ulay changed its name to something less like some biblical ointment for preparing sacrificial goats and more reminiscent of a Spanish entertainer’s overenthusiastic cry. Before they came up with this concept I’m sure there were only 3 physical signs of ageing that the advertisers would concern themselves with:
- Grey hair – God forbid you should let your grey hairs show unless you were auditioning for a part in a hair dye advert. Then you could sit there grey-haired and lonely until, joy of joys, you dyed your hair and started going on dates where you would run down a windy beach with your new man and he’d run his hands through your beautiful newly brown hair.
- Wrinkles – that could all be sorted out by using Camay which you would only ever rub on your cheeks in delicate, pointless little circles before going out on a date where you would run down a windy beach with your new man and he’d run his hands over your beautiful, soft, wrinkle-free cheeks.
- False teeth – use Polygrip in case you get to go on a date where you run down a windy beach with your new man and he has decided to bring a picnic basket full of badly cooked chicken and really hard apples. Then he might run his hand over your beautiful false …well, maybe not. It doesn’t work for everything.
So I will concede that there are at least three signs of ageing. Grey hair: check! Wrinkles: check! False teeth: Nope. But only because I insist that I can chew perfectly well with a molar missing on each side of my mouth and I’m secretly a bit scared I’d go and choke on a bridge or palate or whatever it is they call them. See; if I don’t know the lingo I can’t really be old. I’ll admit to being middle-aged since I patently have no choice in the matter, although I strongly suspect I won’t make it to 94, but these signs of ageing have a way of slapping you in your wrinkled face when you feel the most down.
I started getting grey hair at about 20 years old and now it’s entirely grey at the top and blonde further down. I look as though I dyed my hair blonde and then got bored of doing it. Which, to be fair, I very quickly would. But when children ask, ‘Are you a nan?’ (Er ..no!!!) I have to say, it stings a little. And when you spend 5 minutes trying to pluck an errant eyelash from your cheek before realising it’s actually a wrinkle and you are both wrinkled AND short-sighted, that too can be damaging to the self-esteem. And when you have to chew with your incisors and end up looking like the 1983 World Gurning Champion, it doesn’t make you feel great, to be honest.
If grey hair, wrinkles and lost teeth are the first 3 signs, then I believe the other 4 must be these:
- Really asking yourself if it’s worth the effort before you’ll bend down and pick something up from the floor.
- Finding yourself looking in the cupboard instead of the oven, putting the camera in the fridge and going out in odd boots because you’ve bought so many pairs that are the same except for colour because they’re ‘comfortable’. I’ve done this last one twice; the second time I was telling the humorous anecdote of the first time I’d done it when I looked down and realised I’d done it again.
- Finding yourself saying, ‘I would never have spoken to my mother like that.’
But to me, not all the signs of ageing are that bad, because one that I am really enjoying is number 7:
- Finally just leaving the radio tuned to BBC 4.