Friday, 18 January 2008

Fifties Chick

OK, so now you know I'm well over fifty, but please don't hold that against me. And guess what, being fifty plus isn't any big deal really. It just looks bad on paper. Of course, there are mornings when I wake up and think "Shit, I'm really old" but by the time I'm up and showered, have blow-dried my hair, put on some slap and a foxy outfit from one of my favourite non-geriatric stores (Hobbs, Zara or M and S on a good day) and spritzed myself with perfume, I am definitely hot to trot. Maybe with the odd wrinkle, but generally still "up for it" - whatever "it" turns out to be.

And that's the weird thing about getting older. Once you've learned to handle the inevitable hormonal helter-skelter (if you're a woman) or ignored it (if you're a man), you're sorted really and ready for the next slice of life, and often with renewed vigour. I'm not saying that I'm looking forward to it but, let's face it, getting older is certainly better than the only other alternative.

But one of the reasons I sometimes keep my advanced age to myself (apart from vanity) is that if people know how old you are, they tend to treat you differently. They have preconceptions of how each age group should behave and how it should be treated. It can be a little bit patronising. It's not exactly ageism, more an assumption that as you get to certain milestones, you will naturally do certain things and begin to act in a certain way. But why is that? Why does the chronological age of your body and mind mean that you will undergo a radical personality change? And is that inevitable? Can't we just be the same people we always were, but older? And hopefully a bit wiser, of course.

Recently I was a part of a conversation with a woman in her late 50's who was thinking of getting a smaller house because her kids have now left home and it seemed ridiculous maintaining a huge property just for her and her husband. She wanted to save cash to spend on exotic holidays, a new car, more fun. I could relate to that, but most people just assumed that she was "downsizing" now that they are "older" and would naturally opt for a bungalow, to avoid the stairs. She found this view quite amusing as both she and her husband regularly walk two miles a day, play tennis and badminton, go to the gym and have a landscaping business digging other people's gardens. Oh, and she teaches tap-dancing. But obviously, assumptions had been made, given her age.

As always, I have to rebel. So far I have resisted wearing my lipstick around the outside of my mouth, having a curly perm or buying a purple cape (unless they feature in Vogue), or any of the other stereotypes attributed to "women of a certain age". I haven't become invisible and I often (too often, some say) get my voice heard. I am me and always will be, personality-wise just the same as I always was but with a bit more time and money to spend on myself (until we reach pensionable age when I'll have to go on the game to afford makeup and gin).

And in the meantime?

No, I don't want an effing bungalow. But thanks very much for asking.

23 comments:

She's like the wind said...

Lipstick on the outside of the lips is such a giveaway, don't you think! You're only as young as you feel and hilarious with it. x

Swearing Mother said...

Mornin' SLTW, thanks for that.

x

The Grocer said...

Yes, keep resisting the lipstick, curly perm and puprple cape unless you want the blog name to change to supergran!

Kaycie said...

I understand the lipstick thing, but I don't understand the curly perm or the purple cape. Is it because I'm American?

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Grocer, nice to read you again! At some point would love to be Supergran, but not just yet. x

Kaycie, yes I think I've made for a difficult translation here. Mainly in the UK, its older ladies who favour the curly permanent wave, the rest of us are into hair straighteners! The purple cape, well let's say that unless worn by Kate Moss, it's a bit of a no-no, but can be favoured by OAPs if they still have them from the 60s. Or something like that.

Expatmum said...

You go girl! I agree about people behaving differently if they think you're younger than you are. Having had my bonus baby (as we tactfully call him) over 40, I am now mixing with mothers a decade younger than me but most haven't cottoned on how truly shrivelled I am. I am also learning however, that less is more with make-up and I can look positively pre-pubescent "naked", as long as the bags under my eyes aren't too dark!

travelling, but not in love said...

I think there's something that happens to women as they advance that can make them very 'alluring' for want of a better word.

Look at Catherine Deneuve, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Anna Ford...and so on. There's something (confidence? experience?) that makes these women very attractive to men of all ages.

For me, I'm going to stick to my own over-fifties heartthrob list....

Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey (almost...) and so on.....

Norman said...

Over fifty? Over sixty? What's it matter? I find whatever age I'm at it is a good age. Mind you, being an eternal Peter Pan means there is no possibility of a second childhood, I haven't left my first one yet.

laurie said...

ah, but this is why i make a point of letting people know i'm 51.

i like to bust the stereotypes.

Manic Mother Of Five said...

Hello my lovely. V interesting post here. I can vividly remember as a teenager being in a nightclub talking to someone who was 24 and thinking whatever are you doing here, you're old! The thing is whilst the calendar may tick away the years, you don't change too much once..... Anyway 50 is the new 40 and all that.

For many years I worked with a fabulous lady some 30 years older than myself and we spent many a happy time discussing hair products, make up trends and the latest fashions. Age is just a number, that's all and you've got the sports car to prove it!

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Expatmum, What a lovely
term "bonus baby" is! Yes, know what you mean about the makeup, once it starts to look a bit startling, it's time to lighten up.

TRAVELLING!! Was getting worried you'd done a bunk with Rufus, glad to see you back.

Don't forget to add Sean Connery to your list of desirable blokes. Don't know about you but I would.

Hello Norman, you are quite right. Long-live childhood, I say.

Laurie, you may in reality be 51 so why do you look only 40? Long walks with the dogs? Want to know your secret NOW.

MMOF, hello bab. I think being at work helps, none of my colleagues treat me any differently, I'm just one of the "girls". I don't think it occurs to them that I could be their Mum's age because I suppose we're on the same wavelength and talk the same language.

Apart from the swearing of course.

Valleys Mam said...

I am so with you on that,I keep my age underwraps too. I get taken for early forties and that suits me fine.Once I am labeled 50 plus, then look out.
People congratulate me on being so active -FFs I am not in my dotage.I work 50 plus hours a week , garden walk , read , socialise,blogg, watch the world go bye , rarely iron- thats his job.
My life is full, and bungalow -never ever never.May be bijou flat one day.

Maggie May said...

I'm fine until I glance into a shop window & notice an old woman staring back at me! I still feel young inside! Enjoyed your post.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

You're as young as the man you feel! Happy New Year SM and may this be your year re the writing. Remember what people say - the harder you work, the luckier you get.

travelling, but not in love said...

I was on a flight from Marrakech to London once with Sean Connery. I say with Sean Connery. He was, like, six rows in front of me.

The plane stopped in Casablanca to pick people up, and then broke down. We had to wait three hours to be fixed, during which time he was hassled non-stop by the other passengers....the poor man.

I obviously was too classy for that, and just ignored him. ha ha.

He was with his wife - a bit of a victim of plastic surgery, that one....

merry weather said...

Lovely - sure you'll always be foxy and hot to trot Jane! Whatever the age it's attitude and character that count, oh and experience :)

Amy said...

What does bungalow mean to you? Because in my neck of the woods, it's a style of house with no connotations other than "granola with money."

I live in a house with no stairs, and I bought it when I was 27, thinking if I ever broke my leg or ended up staying here until I was old, I would have no trouble. Also, my mother would be able to live with us should the need arise. (We're getting close to that, unfortunately.)

I'd love a bungalow. My "Little Boxes" house is pretty low on charm.

What kind of house do you live in?

Swearing Mother said...

Hiya Valleys Mam: A kindred spirit if ever there was one. Glad to hear you "keeping active" (ain't that patronising? See what I mean)!

Maggie, that is the problem really, it's a cruel trick of nature. Don't let her get away with it, I say.

MOB, hi. How's the book going? I am floundering a bit, don't know where to start. The beginning would be good I suppose, but then I just love to blog......

Travelling: You mean you didn't even offer to join him in the Mile High Club?

Hi Merry, it's all in the mind, as they say, but after Christmas there's a lot of it round my hips. Back to the gym!!

Hello Amy: There are obviously many different sorts of bungalow,(please don't take offence if you have one), but here in the UK it is often assumed that once you're over 55 you will need a bungalow to maintain your mobility and be able to sleep in a bed without going upstairs.

They tend to be less about glamour and money, more about the smell of pee and gravy. I'm generalising of course, but there are roads of that sort round here all occupied by people who clog up the Post Office first thing in the morning or try and get on the bus before 9 a.m. when their passes become valid. In the UK bungalows aren't necessarily a sign of afluence, more a style statement. They can be tiny or huge. You either like them or you don't. A bit like Marmite.

I live in a house with far more flights of stairs than is strictly necessary, a garden which is far too big and plumbing which plays a tune every time the boiler comes on. In American terms it would be described as a hovel. In the UK it's a "period property".

Suppose it's all a matter of perspective.

Nora Christie said...

Feeling old at 50 plus? Why, you're still a child. I am old enough to have been your elderly mother. Enjoyed your comments. The desire to look good doesn't ever go away, that is, until we no longer have control over it. (And then we want to look good in the casket for a public viewing. But not to be macabre!)

kinglear said...

.. and remember, people even in their 60s 70s and 80s are still having sex - lots of it.

Swearing Mother said...

Hello Nora, how lovely to read you. I've been over to your blog and it's great. You sure you're not a famous writer masquerading as an 80something woman?? Love your writing, I can imagine it as a book. Will be back to read more and hope to talk to you again.

Kinglear, so pleased to hear abut the sex. I was wondering what I would do when I eventually give up work...

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I've just gotten more comfortable in my skin each year. And I don't do any of the things you mention, but if I did I wouldn't need a twenty year old commenting on it.

I'm having too much fun.

Swearing Mother said...

And long may it remain so RC!! You'll always be fun.