If 58 is the new 48, would someone tell my knees?
- Credit: Archant
Coronation Street’s Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell, in the snug, with the milk stout... no not the solution to a game of Cluedo but my abiding memory of 1960s’ television drama, one that partially styled my view of older women.
Ena in her hairnet, Minnie in her slightly battered hat. Their gossip is like a Greek chorus, filling in backgrounds on the likes of Elsie Tanner, the Street’s enduring love interest, who, according to Ena is clearly no better than she ought to be.
Mrs Sharples was the old woman who lived in the house with net curtains and an aspidistra in the window. The house children ran past in case she saw them.
My own nanna was considerably more glamorous. She often wore a picture hat to bingo, which she played with fierce concentration and a great deal of luck. She was also very serious about playing card games and would tell me off for my childish chatter when I should have been considering my next move in a crunch round of gin rummy.
And now I am a nanna.
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I have just put my inner thespian back into a suitcase in the attic after being in a musical. It was set in the early 1960s. I wore a red velvet hat (with knickers) atop my perm (the knickers weren’t on my head, just the hat) and as I looked in the mirror I understood why I no longer get cast as a juvenile lead. I am my nanna.
Here was the future. Character parts. If my face is my fortune, I am going to need a bank loan.
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I wasn’t supposed to age. We are now encouraged to believe 60 is the new 50 and 50 the new 40 etc. It is this sort of talk that has pushed the retirement age up. In my case, 66 is the new 60.
But are we truly younger than our forebears or is it a conspiracy?
I can (and do) buy creams that purport to lessen the appearance of wrinkles. They don’t seem to be working as well as they did when I didn’t have any wrinkles. My skin now defies these proven age defiers. As many as eight out of 10 women say they make their skin look younger but I am one of the other two.
Without Tara, my determined hairdresser, my hair would revert to its natural grey at the front, near-black at the back, a bit badgerish. Tara applies dye and an hour later I am a redhead with a slight sheen round the edges (that’s the Vaseline).
Every morning, I use foundation, blusher, powder, mascara, lip-liner and lipstick. This is where I lose at least five years (no, it doesn’t take me that long to put on). I won’t even take a phone call without make-up on.
You see, if Ena and Minnie had made a bit of an effort with the slap, they could have sat in the lounge bar of the Rovers with Elsie and a cocktail.
So, at 58, am I the new 48 or am I simply 58 with a few diversionary tactics?
My arthritic knees are definitely 58. A colleague and I, hauling ourselves up the stairs at work the other day, took a breather halfway and had a half-serious discussion about getting a stair-lift installed.
When I have to get into the car in a tight car park space, my body doesn’t slide into the seat as effortlessly as it did when I was really 48 as opposed to 58 the new 48. I get one leg in the car, slide my bottom over the exterior paintwork, turn and get cramp in my hip. Maybe there should be slightly bigger parking spaces for new 48s and over.
Of course, the new 48s also tend to be especially “dear” to people. The number of times I am addressed as “dear” increases geometrically as my age increases arithmetically. Sometimes I get a bit frosty, other times I respond with a “darling”, in a loving way.
Neither approach fazes people. They understand me because they can tell I’m probably a new 48 if I’m a day.
And all the while I am being kindly patronised, the magazines are showing me how flipping marvellous some women look in middle age. By and large, these are the same women who looked marvellous when they were young.
Not that I’m giving up; not flipping likely. As the new anti-wrinkle preparations emerge with their magic new formulas, including argibargin and retinoxidoxifoximin, I shall be there, smoothing it on, hoping for miracles.
I have the body-shaping undergarment that pushes all the fat into your armpits. I have gravity-resistant brassieres, so sturdy they hold water.
I am not ready for a glass of milk stout in the snug.
What I want is Sex on the Beach (the cocktail, obviously).