A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Friday, 28 March 2014

Nearly 50 - You Can't See Me - Right?

In the acreage of unmitigated cobblers that passes for journalism in the "wimmin's section" of the tabloids, the latest neurosis du jour for us 'middle youthers' is that, come 51, a Harry Potter cloak of invisibility will shroud the menopausal, rendering them henceforth spectral and condemned to a ever decreasing lifespan of calcium yoghurt and Tena Lady.

Can anyone see Joan Collins?  Completely invisible at 81

We have been regaled by numerous sad tales of women who "walk into a room and are not noticed". Coming from a family who struggle very hard to actually recognise each other when out and about (my father has to be under a foot away before it dawns on him that I am one of his offspring), I honestly don't think this has anything whatsoever to do with age.

There are appear to be two schools of thought. Either you revel in your new invisibility to dress like a frazzled Miss Marple after too many gins or you go a bit 'cougar' and Bet Lynch yourself up in leopard print, download Tinder (not, as I thought something to do with matches) and get yourself a large 'young male totty net'. You can then do all the things you probably never did in your adolescence such as double date and worry about STIs.

Yes, you could make it a sexist issue, or an ageist issue. You could get all steamed up about the fact that men, in all likelihood are pre-programmed to seek out the youngest, most fertile member of the opposite sex to bed and subsequently ignore while they go out to play golf. But what is the truth?

Dare I say it - it's not all about you. Those people in the room may well be engrossed in conversation. Unless you're Joan Collins, the party is unlikely to grind to an awe-struck halt. On the other hand, your body language and personal presentation may be putting people off from approaching you. Shuffling Igor like with a manifest lack of confidence and wearing a sack dress that would give Carol Vorderman nightmares is not going to get you any attention.  I would also suggest avoiding all clothing which claims to be 'eau de nil', or any dress cut shorter than Ant and Dec.  And as for anoraks. Repeat after me:  "I am not an eskimo". Unless you are, of course, in which case, the broadband in your igloo is a whole heap more impressive than mine.

Can we please use a modicom of common sense here and recognise that i) we are bloody lucky to have lived so long and ii) it is up to us to make ourselves interesting - read, learn, develop, grow, get involved in the World. I forget who said it but there's truth in the saying that as we get older, even if we are no longer in the first flush of beauty, we can still be gorgeous.  Is it really all about attracting a partner? Was it ever?

Anyway, I think we can all cheer up because next week there will no doubt be an onslaught of verbiage about "sexy older women".  In which case, I hope the weather warms up because it's way too cold to take my thermals off. I'm off for a gin.

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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Silent Sunday - 23/03/2014


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Spring comes to Gaviscon Towers

Somebody has apparently moved Spring. After the Biblical flooding parts of the UK suffered this year, at least we can show a modicom of British-style happiness now that the sun has appeared (even in Cardiff). 

This happiness is chiefly demonstrated by a celebratory visit to Homebase and hosing down the barbecue. But I have spent the last few weeks being confused as to when the first day of Spring is. Today is the Spring Equinox and I'm pretty sure it's today and not, as the Daily Mail (with its general reliance on research carried out by Brian, the Confused.Com robot), claims the 1st of March. Sadly, many people don't know their equinox from their Ultravox.  Less a case of understanding science and more a case of "goodnight Vienna".  I haven't seen Midge Ure on the TV for ages but the last time I did he was sporting a beard and grizzling slightly about his role in the Band Aid video.  Happy days.

Ieuan & I in full combat mode in the Millennium Centre, Cardiff

I have to say, though, my science knowledge is dreadfully rusty. Yes I know I could google it, but that takes the fun out of it, doesn't it? Plus you miss the opportunity to wind the kids up royally. This week, for example, Caitlin has asked me how condensation works (it hangs around on window panes and creates mold on netting) and whether ducks eat yoghurt (obviously not because you wouldn't get a webbed foot in a Muller Yoghurt pot, particularly the corner bit with the fruit puree). 

And, I have not been feeling all that well. As the clock ticks down to my 50th, I appear to be collecting a new raft of physical ailments which will fully justify, come 28th May, taking to my bed in a starched Victorian nightdress, wafting an embroidered hanky at all and sundry and demanding, alternatively, gruel, smelling salts and my tonic (Amaretto or Baileys, since you're asking). The family will be photographed looking suitably glum at 4 o'clock every Sunday huddled in our bijou sitting room, where the husband will sport a tweed suit, fob watch and monocle. Letters of sympathy will be written and the 1812 Overture will be played on the gramophone to cheer everyone up.  (How can you go wrong with cannons?).  

The Sybil (my walking companion and font of vast tomes of slightly odd information), has already told me to get a grip and that I'm lucky not to be in a far greater state of decay at my age.  Which is nice. I think I will have to recover, not just for the family but because if there is one substance which fills me with dread and makes me heave just thinking of it, it's Gaviscon. Actually, I'm amazed nobody has named their son that yet. Sounds a bit French.   

As they say though,  it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.  Particularly mine.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

What do I want for my birthday? How the heck do I know!

Now I fully appreciate that there are some women who have a fully functioning list of things they'd like as gifts (possibly even in spreadsheet format). I have never managed this, not least because, even 10 years ago, Microsoft Excel was as comprehensible to me as the popularity of Geordie Shore.  Less even. In fact, ask me what I would like and I tend to feel a bit cross and put on the spot. No amount of reading Liz Jones' diary in the Daily Mail seems to help me become brand obsessed. 

After 20 years in marketing, you tend to view all aspects of branding with a healthy suspicion and garner weird looks in your local Disney store as you mutter under your breath (oh-ho, OF COURSE the Frozen DVD won't be released until the Easter Holidays, subtle Disney, very subtle).

Source: www.pandawhale.com

We ran our wedding list via John Lewis Online which was great. It basically worked by me pulling up a picture of something entirely random (e.g. a statue of a heron for the garden), placing the PC in front the husband whilst he was under the influence of Top Gear, and waiting for him to nod so he could return to watching Star In A Reasonably Priced Car (reasonably priced, my a**e - my first car was a beat up Morris Minor bought for £60 - now THAT's reasonably priced - although it was the 80's).

Now I am on my own as far as decision making goes and am completely in a tail spin as my 50th approaches at the end of May.  So far I have considered a day trip on the Orient Express, an emerald ring (my birthstone) and a HUGE party at Monte Carlo Casino where we all dress up as our favourite Bond character. 

Admittedly, I might have had a drink when I came up with the last one.  But I can't commit to anything. I'd love a Louis Vuitton Alma handbag but the cost of one would probably involve conversion to Catholicism and weekly confession to the end of my days. 

Oh yes. I'm talking guilt here. That's the thing when you have kids. I know they're only 6 and 4 and they might not want to go, but University tuition fees are not exactly small these days. Plus you tend to look at your own parents and their comparatively modest lifestyle and do a rapid reassessment of your values.

The truth is (and watching Sports Relief this week has made the point nicely) many of us have so much. And the more we have, the less pleasure it seems to give us.  We don't really want anything, much less NEED it. 

Actually I find the biggest pleasure in buying most things is the thrill of my card whizzing through the till point - the gloss seems to wear off when you get home. This is particularly true of 90% of children's toys. 

Once out of the packaging and devoid of point of sale / merchandising paraphenalia, you're frequently left with a battery hungry piece of plastic which cracks when dropped and ends up at the back of the toy cupboard in a few days.

No. I'm going to have to come up with something creative for my 50th............ and quick!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Silent Sunday - 09/03/2014


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Silent Sunday - 02/03/2014


Saturday, 1 March 2014

And breathe.... Half Term's Over

Oh God. At the end of another half term week featuring the wonderful British weather, a husband on another continent and the mind dissolving cacophony of happy, clappy, marginally hypnotic lunacy that calls itself CBeebies with songs about various bits of the body and a disproportionate number of programmes geared to the deaf (are they taking the *** or what? I'm still not putting my hearing aid in), we've reached Saturday night and I'm afraid my event organising this week has been less than A* or whatever the highest echelon of achievement granted by the local Education Board currently is.

So NO.  I have not done any of the following: - visited a castle, farm, theme park, stately home, funfair or any establishment featuring balls in nets. I have not done anything 'crafty' with lolly sticks, egg shells, daffodils or moss. I have not created an obstacle course with zip wire in the garden. We have not dressed up in inflatable sumo suits and beaten each other senseless with inflatable batons.  

The thought of another week of enforced fun with mummy was too much for Ieuan

Each day the Facebook statuses of desperate parents during half term have radiated the atheletic effort of the Sochi Olympic teams without the snow. There have been pictures of visits to all of the above establishments with parents dressed to cope with sub zero temperatures brandishing Moshi Monster lunch boxes whilst trying to chisel frozen Fruit Shoots out of their offspring's hands. Cliffs have been scaled. Hang gliders assembled. Ponies have been yanked unceremoniously from warm stables to 'hack' a mile or so on busy roads whilst their riders model more high visibility gear than a local authority day out.  
Cakes have been baked and Welsh cakes have been griddled. I'm amazed we haven't seen pictures of junior brandishing a blow torch putting the finishing touches to a creme brulee.

All of this leaves me feeling rather useless, except that, to quote the Bard, when it comes to diarising parenting triumps on Facebook "methinks the lady doth protest too much". I do try to come up with exciting things to do but somehow plans never come to fruition. This week, (as is becoming a tradition), we were visited on Saturday by "Mr Puke and Mr Squit" and the ghastly pair of them have only just left.

Anyway, I must confess to a feeling of intense shame when, at swimming this week, the kids' lovely teacher, Sarah enquired whether the kids had been on holiday.  "Oh yes", said Ieuan proudly, "we went to Morrisons".
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