Archive for May, 2009

On being an old duffer

On my way to pick up takeaway lunch from the local vegetarian cafe, as I often am come lunchtime,I pass a student’s union. During term time there are always youngsters hovering outside, handing out flyers for student nights: boys in skinny jeans with hair in a stiff plank over one eye, girls in humiliating skintight fancy dress (why don’t the boys have to wear it?!), shivering skinny frames warmed only by fake uggs. Running the gauntlet of the flyer kids is akin to passing a building site and bracing oneself for the whistle, or lack of. I’m offended if they mistake me for a student and offer me a flyer; I’m offended if they don’t and clearly think I am old and past it.

Today took the biscuit though. At the veggie cafe/shop I also picked up some garden goodies, and held them in my arms so as not to use a (gasp) plastic bag. A lanky youth proffered a flyer to the “I LUV SEXXY SCHOOL DISCO VODKA PUKE NITE OMG” or similar. I shook my head politely, but dude, seriously. I’m carrying a litre bottle of organic seaweed fertiliser. Do I look like a debauched student type? At the same time I was secretly pleased that- assuming he was awake enough at 1pm to actually see properly- I could be mistaken for a student. And then I wondered whether it was the clothes that did it, and felt less smug. 

It has got me thinking about ageing, and my conclusion is that I don’t give a toss. I actually like being 28 and don’t mind the rapid approach of 30.  (Oh I can just see myself in ten years time, ROARING with laughter at the idea that I’d feel moved to ponder on “ageing” when my age still begins with “2”) . Fortunately I don’t have wrinkles yet, and I assume that I can”t hold too many pencils under crucial parts of my anatomy- not that I’ve tried. As it happens, I think women get better, appearance-wise, in their 30s. So I’m not bothered.

In terms of confidence and work and all that- well, I’m miles more assertive and self-assured than I was at 21, and though my working hours are lamentable, I’d rather work until 11pm in an edit suite than spend my days running through torrential rain to fetch frothy lattes for demanding directors.

And I don’t feel a sense of my youth escaping me- in fact I look forward to the exciting things that the next decade will bring.

I think my mind is also on this subject because I’m filming an item about equal pay tomorrow, and I have set up interviews with some very impressive, much older, women who are successful and opinionated and fabulous. I made a decision not to reveal how intimidated I felt when I spoke to them on the phone- and was surprised to realise that they were talking to me like an equal. Like, we were just women having a work conversation, rather than a trembling, mumbling teenager trying to speak to a proper adult.  So perhaps I am finally growed up- or at least getting there- and apparently I’m totally OK about that. Surprise!

Why do we think being extremely young is so brilliant? As I remember, it was filled with hard work and uncertainty and hangovers. Why do we buy magazines which tell us we should aspire to be like 19-year-old models, all the skinnier for their hamster wheel existence and the drugs they snort to stay awake, rather than the sort of interesting women, who don’t answer to anybody, whom I’ll be interviewing tomorrow? 

It strikes me that in our tunnel-vision focus on youth- the appearance of, the retaining of, the recapturing of-  we’re missing the bigger picture: the fact that we’re perpetuating a bit of a myth, really.

Alright already!

I’m back! And I promise I didn’t stay away so long in order to rack up the flattering “please come back!” comments (two of which were from immediate family members so, you know, blogebrity am I none).

Life has been the usual box of chocolates: the fun ones with creamy centres- a grannybreak to Stratford, a birthday party for G; the nutty ones which stick in your throat; and the empty spaces thanks to all the chocolates which were STOLEN by a mean life-thief called WORK.

I don’t mean to go on, but by way of excusing my loooong absence, have I mentioned that my work life balance is, at times, screwed?  Last week was a particularly surreal succession of hotel rooms and lone dinners and long drives with only Radio 4 for company (oh alright, and Radio 2). Meanwhile friendships went untended, parents went unvisited, boyfriends (well, boyfriend) went uncuddled, and tomato seedlings went unplanted and grew so tall that they curled out of the chimney, wound their way down the M6 and poked their feathery fingers into my guilty conscience as I slept in my hotel bed in Somerst. A leggy seedling does not a fruitful harvest make.

But I think my heart/homesickness can best be surmised by the fact that, all week long, I was longing to get home and clean the bathroom. I craved the time to get in the bath in my pants and vest (bathroom cleaning is much too splashy a task for trousers), cup of tea on the windowsill, and really get in between the tiles with an old toothbrush.

On Saturday, as I finally, merrily, got stuck into the grout, I wondered whether some people would consider life too short to care about cleaning the gaps between the tiles.

But when you’re kept from the tiny cogs and wheels of life, the grout-scrubbing and seedling-planting and laundry-hanging, you realise that this is the stuff that makes Life. In my view it’s too short NOT to care about the gaps between the tiles.

(and to maybe blog every now and again…)