I’M writing this on my birthday. 42 today – a number which people of a certain ilk will always recognise as the Meaning of Life.
I am celebrating in style – with a trip to the chiropractor. It’s a sign of the times, unfortunately. After half a lifetime (she says optimistically) of supporting me through various excesses, three kids and an intimate relationship with the chocolate counter, my body is showing signs of wear and tear.
Everything feels more lumpy, more bumpy, more scary. When I get together with friends, we inevitably spend a proportion of our time swapping potentially life-threatening symptoms we’ve developed overnight. I recognise that this is the beginning of the end – once you spend more time discussing neck pain than nights out in town, you’re on a slippery slope to becoming an Old Dear.
You know, the ones who love nothing better than talking about their ailments, parading their lists of medications like a badge of honour – I’ll see your non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and raise them an oxygen tank.
They gather on street corners, in queues at the Post Office, in doctors’ waiting rooms – trumping back ache with kidney disease and topping urinary tract infections with full-blown diabetes.
Well, I’m becoming one. I’ve ordered my fur-lined bootees and am ready to go.
Because as you age, you start to realise that at least part of the meaning of life is staying healthy so you can enjoy the rest of it; and that all you gain in wisdom, confidence and experience is sadly offset by a slow physical decline. Boo, hiss.
I’m clearly not alone. Looking at this week’s news, the ageing process features heavily. Some stories relate merely to new miracle creams; some to Jane Fonda’s secrets to staying youthful; one is about the myth of high antioxidant intake combating age, another – my personal favourite – features a study by Harvard scientists that shows middle aged women who drink moderately have a better chance of defying the ageing process. Go, Harvard!
There’s obviously a multi-billion dollar industry based on looking good as you age, which personally I don’t give a stuff about.
But the feeling good? That matters. And the sad thing is, as you get older, you have to accept that part of feeling good is based on rules that are not exactly rocket science. Don’t eat too much, drink too much, or smoke.
Take the appropriate amount of exercise. And have sex with Daniel Craig three times a day. (I made that last one up, but they should prescribe it on the NHS).
It’s all a bit depressing really.
Happy Birthday to me, and fingers crossed for the next one.