What you see is what you get, I’m sorry to say

Is it too late for New Year resolutions?

Is there still time to become the kindly, accepting, inexorably moving towards old age person that society would like me to be?

There is? Forget it. There are going to be no more resolutions. I am going to continue to be just as crabby, self-willed, irritable, independent (except in matters of night-time scares) and argumentative as ever.

I am resolved to embrace what I am, warts, hairs on chin, flappy earlobes, arthritic knees and all.

“Darling, I no longer crave change. I have decided that what you see is what you get.”

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My husband is, as ever 100% supportive, even though he does not look up from his newspaper: “That’s nice, dear.”

“No, I mean it. Don’t expect me to suddenly become the compliant little woman just because I shall soon be ff . . . ff . . .”

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“Fifty six?”


“I have never wanted you to be a compliant little woman, Lynne,” he says. But was there a hint of wistfulness in his voice?

It is difficult to tell when he’s buried in the letters page.

“I’ll put the kettle on, then.” Offering to make a cup of tea is an expression of love.

I haul my heavy-knit tights up to try to raise the crotch above the level mid-thigh whence they have descended and make a dignified exit to the kitchen in my Christmas bootees.

Like Canute or Cnut or whatever they’re calling him these days I am not going to try to turn back the tide. Time can wash over me and dry me out like a briny bath, I shall be bony, but unbowed.

I am not going to apologise for wearing big knickers pulled up to my armpits, nor am I embarrassed to admit I bought thermal vests to keep myself warm and toasty in the recent freezing weather.

This year, I had a flu jab in Boots. That is to say, in Boots the Chemist, although it so happens I was also wearing boots at the time.

There is an oft-quoted poem by Jenny Joseph that begins:

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

Don’t expect to see me in purple with a red hat any time soon. I may be getting older, but this is no reason to lose your sense of style.

As for relinquishing anti-social habits, except for the unfortunate sprout-effect over Christmas, I have none (unless you count misplaced confidence).

I gave up smoking in 1991. Not since Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis has anyone successfully accessorised with a filter tip. For me there was no handy lantern (Lily Marlene) beneath which to loiter and puff in a sultry manner nor was there a lover (Paul Henreid in Now Voyager) to light two fags and pass me one.

Recently, in order to address the menopause-borne problems of night sweats and hot flushes I gave up alcohol (except for champagne). The nights now pass more peacefully and quickly, but my waking hours seem a lot longer.

I’m hanging on to my other vices. There is nothing wrong with a bit of lust and who could deny a virtually teetotal woman a few lapses into gluttony?

As the old saying goes – the one I just made up – “without experiencing excess, we cannot appreciate the benefits of moderation”.

I have never felt the urge to join a fitness club. The thought of being in the same room as an aerobic group of perspiration-soaked people fills me with horror. Having worked in a school for a couple of years, I know all about the intense sensory impact of a cluster of adolescent boys’ trainers.

If the smell doesn’t immediately kill you, the memory stays with you for a lifetime.

There was a brief moment when I thought 2011 might be the year I become a proper gardener.

Until now my husband has carried out all the planting, mowing, digging, weeding and learning of Latin names while I . . . well, I show an interest.

So, was this to be my time to commune with the earth, to feel the throbbing beat of its life force as DH Lawrence was wont to describe? Er, no.

I would like to be fitter, however, and have decided to make a supreme effort to walk round a few more stores while out shopping. I need to tone myself up in a few places, notably on my debit card.

It’s a huge sacrifice, but it’s got to be done and, as well as developing taut calf muscles, I can spend more and help revivify the economy.

My husband feels a more conventional approach to exercise would be preferable and suggests walks in the countryside, under those huge East Anglian skies through the fens and heathlands; the forests and along the river banks. It does sound lovely, but are there any shops?

The other thing happening in 2011 is The Wedding. Mark is marrying the love of his life, Caitlin, near Bury St Edmunds, in April.

Before that, I need something to wear . . . maybe something full length, in ivory silk. Only joking.

What I want is something fashionable that makes me look like a size 12, plus a hat that doesn’t make me look like Speedy Gonzales or Deputy Dawg.

In 20 years’ time, I want to look at the wedding photographs without thinking I look “so teenies”.

And there’s another problem – what shall we call this decade. Will it be the teenies – which don’t really begin until 2013 – or will it be the tennies or, perhaps, the tenners?


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