When I crossed the 60 age-barrier…
I got a tattoo and died my hair purple. I thought I was very avant garde. I was determined not to age gracefully, I was going to be as Jenny Joseph planned to be (apart from the bit about the butter):
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!
A significant event on my horizon is Horaces wedding. This has been long in the planning by my former-wedding-event-co-ordinator, daughter. When I told her that I had grown a tattoo on my upper back her first comment was, ‘I hope you’re going to wear a high neck at my wedding, then.’ I felt as if I was in an episode of Ab. Fab. but also, faintly triumphant that I had the power to shock my elder daughter.
Something else has happened: Mavis has gone to college. To celebrate her freedom from the oppression of school, she has died her hair a very lurid blue.
She has stolen my thunder. What would you think if you saw a young woman with long, bright blue hair walking beside an older, more portly version with equally garish, short purple locks? I’ll tell you what. You would think, look at that old woman trying to keep up with her daughter, or blimey they look weird, or some other, certainly uncomplimentary, remark.
So now, at 61, the colour of my hair has passed through an unflattering copper, back to Medium Ash Brown. I have had a smart new cut and feel… old.
Recently, I have begun to think about Horace’s wedding. Your daughter walking down the aisle is another nail in the coffin of age-delusion. To be fair, I have got away with it for longer than most, this ownership of a son-in-law and potential grandchildren.
My outfit for the occasion has not preoccupied me. As you will have noticed from other posts, I am trying to lose weight – there’s plenty of time until May, gulp.
There is some comfort to be obtained from the fact that my head is unlikely to shrink, no matter how many pounds I manage to shed (‘Shame’, I hear you shout). In my youth I looked pretty fab in a hat and that being the case, I decided that if I saw a beauty, I would take the plunge and buy it.
On Sunday Mavis and I went to the Hand Made Show at Hampton Court, well, near it, on the Green, opposite. Among the huge number of stalls, I was attracted to a felting one. Lovely bright and quirky felted hats hung among bags, jerkins and other products of the cheerful lady’s handiwork. There was a lovely red hat, not wedding material but I wanted it – at least I did until I put it on. Staring at the reflection of my circular face I decided I bore a significant resemblance to a bespectacled Flower Pot Man. I was certainly not a funky mid-life goer. I handed the article back, much to the relief of my daughter and disappointment of the felting lady and two of her customers, who insisted that it suited me. Clearly they had no idea of the image I had in my mind before I looked in the mirror.
I blamed the glasses. It was nothing to do with my age, or my dress size, it had to be the glasses. I booked an appointment at Specsavers to try out some daily disposable contact lenses. When the reminder pinged up on my laptop saying Specsavers, 20 minutes, I was still unwashed and in my pyjamas. I therefore arrived at the opticians dressed rather hurriedly in yesterdays jeans and a top that had seen better days, but I was clean.
The assistant popped the contact lenses into my eyes – easy, and surprisingly comfortable. I looked in the mirror to admire the effect, and drew back. The crepy skin around my eyes was no longer camouflaged by the rim of my (purple) glasses and, well let’s just say it was not an attractive sight.
Undaunted, I have decided that I am at a stage in my life when elegance and sophistication are the only answer. I will be smart, chic and dress according to my age.
Upon my return from the opticians, I changed my clothes, applied make up and went out to buy some new clothes – from Tesco.