No more Mrs Nicetimer...
It happens regularly once a year, every year, and while I used to quite enjoy it, it doesn't give me the unqualified pleasure it used to. I got through it, of course,
It was a significant birthday for two reasons. First ,I was 55, and second, I made it.
In my 20s (which I still am in my head) I couldn't ever have imagined reaching an age so great. The cards are still on the mantelpiece, most of them tactfully avoid mentioning my advancing years. Among them is one from my friend John, from Bacton, who must have made a note of my birthday when I spent my habitual week in mourning, last year.
It speaks of ageing gracefully and bears a motivational message or, maybe its an incantation: “May your bum stay soft and pert; May your boobies not head south… May you never wear big pants or grow unwanted hair.
Too late on all counts, I'm afraid.
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He gently chides me: “I saw this card and thought of you, as you always seem to be putting yourself down.”
Sadly it's all true but rather than let it get me down I have decided to create an alter ego. Many years ago I went for a part in a new play. I had to fill in an audition form in block capitals and, when it came to my turn, the director put his head round the door and called: “Lynne Nicetimer?”
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Enter Mrs Nicetimer.
She is my age but super-fit - one of those rare people who carry on going to the gym for more than a month after taking out membership. She plays tennis, goes to salsa classes and lists her hobbies as doing her make-up, reading celebrity magazines and entertaining.
She's a size 10 and a 32DD cup after having a little work done last year when her premium bond came up.
She buys her clothes in Top Shop, never goes out in heels lower than three inches, sleeps naked and, when her husband comes home from work, she greets him at the front door in a basque and suspenders and gives him a passionate embrace before serving him a three-course cordon bleu dinner with a full-bodied burgundy.
She is keen to find out if he's had a good day at work and when she finds out he dictated a letter for his secretary, Lynne demands he does it again, just for her.
“And how was your day?” he asks.
“Lovely… but you don't want to hear about me. You haven't told me about your journey home through the rush hour traffic - I can't wait.”
“Lynne, you are amazing. I must be the luckiest man on the planet. You iron my shirts with no crease in the sleeves and, since you won Masterchef, your cooking is divine.”
“Thank you, darling. I'll clear away the dinner plates while you listen to some of your favourite opera recordings and later, if you like, you can read aloud from newspaper stories that make you angry. I especially like the ones about bankers' bonuses.”
“You're a treasure.”
Lynne Nicetimer goes through to the kitchen and stacks the dishwasher without bending her knees. The phone rings. “Don't get up, I'll get it,” she trills.
“Hello, Lynne speaking.”
“Hi, Lynne, this is Gavin and I have some good news.
“You are one of the people we have specially selected for an amazing offer on replacement windows and doors.”
“Me? That's fantastic!”
“Yes - and it is only available to one in three households, worldwide.”
“I'm very keen to take advantage of that, Gavin, and as soon as I get the �100,000 prize money that's coming to me any day now from a bank in Nigeria, I shall definitely be ordering all your products.”
“Is it alright if our sales executive Mr P. Rana calls tomorrow?”
“Lovely. I'll set aside the whole afternoon for him… he won't mind if I'm working out in tight lycra, will he, Gavin? Gavin? Gavin… are you there, Gavin?”
On the whole, I prefer the crabby original.
And if my husband is thinking about cutting out and framing the bit where I pander to his every whim, I have taken legal advice and it won't stand up in court.
Mrs T writes: “I thought I had found you the ideal item to spice up St Valentine's Day.
In a local charity shop I saw a set of body paints which apparently tasted really good when licked!
“However, when I had disguised myself and plucked up the courage to go in and buy them they had been sold.”
Sorry about that, Mrs T…oh, and they tasted wonderful, by the way.
Shaping up well, thank you
I have been touched by your letters of support and sympathy after I wrote of my determination to lose weight in time for my wedding… I mean, my son's wedding, next April.
Betty Paternoster writes from Ipswich: “I am 83 and have never been on a diet my whole life. I'm a size 10 and quite tall; on no medication whatsoever, never even take a pain tablet although I sometimes get aches and pains but I think they will go away and they always do. I go out every day, do lots of walking, work on the till in a charity shop two afternoons, go to football - have done for years; walk there and back; eat lots of fish and vegetables, also fruit; take two spoonfuls of cod liver oil every day.”
The inspirational Mrs Paternoster says she hopes I will be able to lose weight for Mark's wedding and adds: “I'm sure you will look lovely, whatever the outcome.”
I am also indebted to Val Green, of Dallinghoo, Woodbridge, who says she went to her godson's wedding last year and advises: “Tip: Do not wear a shiny silk outfit - I swear it made me look larger than I am.”
In the event that I am “utterly desperate” and I expect I will be, Val also encloses a newspaper article headlined: “Lie back and relax yourself thin.”
The picture shows a woman attached to a machine by a number of cables and heated pads. It is a cTEMS, a “combined thermal and electrical muscle stimulation”. It basically mimics exercise without the need to actually do any and the reporter says it works. It's a bit pricey - �800 for 10 treatments - but I want it, I really, really want it