If, like me, social interaction is your sustenance, these strange times will have led to new ways of hanging with your tribe.
First, I tried the telephone. It was so long since I’d used the device as a phone that it felt peculiar to lift it to my ear. Soon I was ringing everyone to talk about how weird it was to communicate using our actual voices.
After a few days, voices weren’t enough.
I tried Facetiming my elderly parents. I became overly familiar with the inside of my father’s ear as he forgot to point the screen at his face, then had to remind him to put his teeth in. …
My 53-year-old husband has decided to become a rock star, and I’m not even kidding.
He’s played bass since he was a kid and always dreamed of making it big but work and responsibilities got in the way of that dream, until now.
He still has two businesses to run, a couple of school-age kids and a delightful wife (if I do say so myself), but he also has a finite time on this planet, which is why, when he was invited to audition for a band he has followed since his teens, I persuaded him to go.
The audition is in Edinburgh, a long way from our native Kent. The band plans to go on a world tour and record at least two albums. That’s a lot of commitment for a man who’s used to working in the office in the back garden and only changes out of Pj’s if we have visitors. …
Today I am feeling the love.
It could be because I had a great evening at the theatre last night, but I think it’s more likely to be because I went there with my clever, funny, sparkling friend.
This glow is not a one off. Now, at the grand old age of forty-nine, I am ready to admit that my friends give me the kind of fulfilment that in decades gone by, I didn’t fully acknowledge or appreciate.
Have I previously neglected the wonderful women I’ve been blessed to know? Looking back, perhaps I have been remiss. Whilst my friends were always important, other things have inevitably got in the way. …
When I last went to the dentist, he suggested I had a set of X-Rays. As he moved the machine towards my head, I asked whether he was going to check if I might be pregnant first. He sighed and said, ‘If it will make you feel better.’
His presumption that my fertility is a distant memory is one example of the little things regularly reminding me of my age. Admittedly, it’s not as bad as the time I was wolf-whistled from behind and the miscreant looked back, saw my face and apologised.
From conversations with my friends, I’ve realised that women are constantly being reminded of how old they are. It’s almost as if the world is conspiring to destabilise us, to keep us in our place. Here’s how some of the worst offenders try to take us…
My husband is thin, I am not, and I hate him for it.
We weren’t always like Jack Sprat and his portly wife; in our twenties we were both slim, then in the next decade we took turns at piling on the pounds. He drank and snacked himself into rotundity, whilst I enjoyed double cream on cornflakes during two well-fed pregnancies.
Now I’m approaching fifty — a milestone he passed three years ago — and the scales have tipped in his favour (if you’ll pardon the pun), and try as I might, I can’t seem to redress the balance.
In fairness, his litheness isn’t entirely his fault. He has gallstones, a curse of the middle-aged, (which women are three times more likely to suffer than men). They caused him such screaming agony that, until his gallbladder is removed, he is too terrified to eat fat because doing so could cause another painful attack. …
I have just been forced off a pavement by a man. He didn’t barge or shove me, in fact I’m almost certain he didn’t have a clue that I was manoeuvred onto the grass verge because of his presumed ownership of the entire pavement. His obliviousness astonished me.
I was taking my first tentative outside walk since having abdominal surgery, and I’m sure that’s partly why I noticed this man’s behaviour. Anyone who’s had an operation will know that, for a while, you’re acutely aware of your position in relation to potential harm. You become protective of your personal space.
Walking along a pavement which was easily wide enough for two people, I noticed a bearded man in a suit walking towards me from the opposite direction. There was nobody else in the vicinity. …
The dictionary definition of intimacy is: ‘Close familiarity or friendship,’ so when I hear of podcasts, which are, by their very nature, an external, intangible, remote digital experience, being described as ‘intimacy plus,’ my nose automatically wrinkles.
At this point I should explain that I love podcasts (The Guilty Feminist is my favourite). I even go to see them being recorded. This could be considered more intimate than listening through a device — but only if you consider sitting in an auditorium with several hundred other people intimate. I don’t.
I read an article recently about the rising popularity of podcasts, and I think that’s a wonderful thing, but when I read on, I became concerned about the terminology used to describe the podcast experience. …
I genuinely don’t understand why people are unreliable. In my view, you make a choice whether to be dependable or not.
Being trustworthy is important to me. I want to be consistent and to do what I say I’m going to. But I also expect the same from other people.
Am I asking too much?
I believe a strong work ethic makes people want to be reliable, but it’s not just about work ethic, it’s about not being a flake. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve explained to my children that, even though something else may have come up, something more fun, or even more lucrative, we will do the thing we originally committed to. Socially, in the workplace and morally, we are reliable. We are not flakes. …
I went to a reunion 25 years after graduation. Here’s what I learned:
People don’t change
Kind people remain kind, funny people will still make you laugh, and the same characters will still be on the dancefloor.
Unfortunately, it also follows that the dicks will still be dicks. The mildly pompous teen is likely to have surrounded themselves with like-minded air-bags for the intervening 25 years and grown in confidence and verbosity. Still, you no longer live across the hall from them, so enjoy the confusion on their face as you walk away when they’re in mid-flow.
Live your best…
My daughter calls the menopause ‘Old Lady Puberty’ and she’s right. It’s an inevitable change to the female body, which impacts women as enormously as when they first forayed into shuttlecock nipples and bloodied underwear.
The effect of the menopause is so universal that it’s the whispered topic of every conversation between fellow sufferers. It’s the feeling that we have to whisper about it that enrages me.
There are educational books written specifically to help us guide our tween daughters through the changes incurred during puberty. It is a topic dealt with at school in Personal, Social and Health Education lessons (or whatever the hell they’re calling those sessions these days). …