Five hours to get ready? Does that include travel?

Except for the age of the model, the cup of coffee, the candles and the bath, this could be Lynne ge

Except for the age of the model, the cup of coffee, the candles and the bath, this could be Lynne getting ready for a night out. Picture: Ross Helen/Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: RossHeleGetty Images/iStockphoto

A new survey calculates it takes young women an average of more than five hours to get ready for a night out. In which case, Lynne Mortimer had better start now.

It’s been over a week since my husband retired and, seriously, he needs a shed. Or I do.

While many couples are all loved up on this most romantic of weeks, I tend towards the more prosaic. I have been deleting emails oozing sentimental claptrap since Christmas and, although I realise the passing of Valentine’s Day opens the marketing sector’s door to Mothering Sunday (aka Mothers’ Day), I am hoping to get a pancake or two tossed before the onslaught.

Now, don’t all rush at once, but a boutique hotel in London is offering a two-night Royal Wedding Package for £3,900. They describe it as “lavish” and I should ruddy well hope so at that price. Incidentally, it doesn’t include lunch with Meghan and Harry.

Another email entreats us to check our loved one’s moles on Valentine’s Day. It is, of course, a serious message about skin cancer but I’m not sure about the timing. “I’m going to inspect your moles, my darling,” is not the number one chat-up line in the romance charts.

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Perhaps the most surprising news of the week is the amount of time it takes – allegedly – for young women (18-35) to get ready for a night out. The national average in the survey, carried out by retailer Pink Boutique, is FIVE HOURS 32 MINUTES. How long? So you get home from work at 6pm on Friday and you’re ready to go out at 11.30pm? How long does it take to grab a woolly jumper?

This would, however, explain the sad occasion of our “night on the town”, a few years ago. We and two other couples decided to experience some of the new pub/night spots locally. At 7.30pm, we headed into town and first went to a large tavern, part of a chain. We could have sat anywhere we liked because it was empty except for one table at which a gentleman was nursing what I felt to be his eighth or more pint of the day, judging by his unusual demeanour.

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We sat there for a while, during which time a few more people drifted in. At one point I gripped my husband’s arm and whispered: “My eyesight is going.” It turned out that such establishments dim the lights over the course of the evening... and turn the volume up on the tape recorder... or whatever it is that plays the music.

When we could no longer maintain a conversation without leaning over the table and bellowing into each other’s ears, we gave up and went somewhere else. It was exactly the same and so were the third and fourth drinking holes. At 10.30pm, exhausted by shouting and squinting, we went home and, as we walked out of the city centre, we passed groups of young people who were only now walking into town.

It was a cold night and yet none of the girls had coats on, and I’ll bet they weren’t wearing vests either. My daughter informed me this was most likely to be because they had donned what she described as a “vodka overcoat”.

Anyway, it turns out that Norwich women spend the least time getting ready, at a mere four hours and 16 minutes, while Manchester lasses appear to need a whopping six hours and 16 minutes.

Four hours? Well, a long leisurely bath, some depilation (that’s hoicking out unwanted hair), moisturising, hair, make-up and choosing the outfit might take quite a long time, I suppose. But how much excess hair can one woman possibly have grown in a week or two? I realise I’m out of the age range by 28 years but you might think a woman of almost 63 would need even longer to get ready.

Add on five minutes to towel dry in the extra creases; five minutes to yank out hairs that have been lurking about for so many years they have roots the size of carrots; 10 extra minutes to use that grey roots concealer on the hair; 10 more to persuade foundation into the wrinkles (laugh lines?) on the face and work out where the eyebrow line should be. Then you have to find something to wear. I may not have as many choices as a younger woman but with a replacement knee and a bit of osteo-arthritis in the fingers and elbows, putting clothes on takes at least 10 minutes more.

Then I ask my husband how I look and he says (as usual) that I look lovely... but adds: “Is the dress supposed to look like that?”

This means, of course, that I have to change.

But, dear reader, even with this necessary extra time to fix the ravages of age, I will not be able to match even the average Norwich gal. I probably spend between 40 minutes and an hour preparing for a big night out... by which I mean something like a dinner dance.

Over in Manchester, meanwhile, I expect they’ve already started getting ready for the weekend, putting in hair extensions, booking beauty appointments and setting aside time for selfies and group shots.

Oh, and here’s a thing. The biggest Fake Tan reservoir is, apparently, no longer in Essex innit but in Northern Ireland, where 81% of women mitt themselves all over.

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