Thursday, 10 November 2016

Warning - Feeling Purple

I feel officially old.

This week I turned 35.

If I were to have another baby now I would be deemed a "geriatric pregnancy".

In market research terms I have left the 25-34 category and am now grouped with the 35-54s.

The newly elected President of the United States of America, Donald J Trump, has advised the world's male population that I have reached the age when they should, "check out" of a woman.

I am no longer one of the footloose and fancy-free, bright young things, who can do what they want, when they want. I am one of the sober, stressed-out, squeezed middle, who has responsibilities to consider and duties to carry out.

The other day in the supermarket I found myself standing behind a woman wearing striped knee-high socks, a bright patterned cardigan layered over a clashing patterned dress and a decorative hat. I could tell from behind that she was not a youngster, but when she turned her head I could see she was at least 60.

I was reminded of Jenny Joseph's poem Warning. "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."

I have always loved that poem. But I found myself thinking it won't be long before my daughter will reach an age at which she would be mortified if I took her to school wearing striped knee-high socks.

So I am old. But not old enough to wear purple and spend all my pension on brandy.

I can't have a midlife crisis and buy a motorbike.

I have to eat healthy cereal for breakfast, sitting up straight at the table, so as to set a good example to my daughter.

When I was a child I always wondered why my mother asked for such boring things for her birthday. A dishwasher, a sit-down iron, a Magimix. Why did she always ask for household gadgets and not treats for herself?

But now I realise these presents made her life easier and so they probably did bring her some small joy in that way.

And this year I asked for a Magimix for my birthday, to help me cook better and quicker meals.

Is this growing up? Is this what I have been waiting for all these years?

I spent my teens racing into adulthood and now I wish I had slowed down.

I want to watch breakfast telly in my pyjamas and eat chocolate biscuits in milk for breakfast and paint my toe nails and spend hours on the phone to my friends.

But I have to get up and get my daughter dressed and fed and try and remember to label the toys we play with so that she learns some words other than, "This."

I am one of the Grown Ups now, and I have to put in my years of being the sensible one before I can become a bright old thing.

Then, once I've paid my dues, I can go back to eating toast with butter three inches thick, going to the cinema in the middle of the day and spending all my money on eccentric outfits from charity shops.

But perhaps I ought to practice a little now. So that my daughter isn't too shocked, when I become old and start to wear purple.

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback