Sunday is my fortieth birthday. If I believe the cliches, I should celebrate by embarking on a mid-life crisis, panicking about all the things I’ve not done yet and buying a leather jacket in an effort to recapture my youth. But I can’t be arsed. I think forty brings a lot of freedoms. Caitlin Moran said 39 was the age when you no longer had to have an opinion on Morrissey. I’d add forty is when you’re happy knowing that even if you think your opinion is a minority one, it probably isn’t, and who cares anyway?
So I decided it might be nice to write a post that basically says here I am, I’m happy with who I am and here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
I am a daughter, sister, wife, friend and, much to the surprise of my 20-year old self, a mother. I am an autumnal person who likes “trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace” and conkers and plum crumble and pulling on jumpers and knee high boots.
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but all of my jobs have involved some kind of writing so I’ll stick with that.
I’ve turned into one of those people who uses a piece of machinery, in this case, my bicycle, without necessarily knowing how to maintain or repair it. This would disgust my father.
Other behaviour that would disgust my father (or at the least make him laugh) includes: reading The Guardian and, worse, The New Statesman; honking support to striking firemen; wearing Doc Martens; voting Labour.
How you get round this in a digital age I have no idea but John Waters’ advice telling people “if you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them” is still right. I don’t care (see earlier point) if that makes me elitist, books are a necessity, not a luxury.
Although I qualify this point by also saying, never read a book with a boat on the cover.
Sali Hughes wrote last week about how working in the service industry makes you a better person. I absolutely believe this. If someone is rude to shop assistants/ waiters/ call centre staff, don’t fuck them.
Plus working in a service industry (in my case, bookshops) gives you good friends and silly memories – yes I stood in torrential rain at 2am wearing a witch’s outfit telling a man that he couldn’t buy the final Harry Potter from us as I was closing the store, yes I fainted in front of 300 Bret Easton Ellis fans in the Royal Northern College of Music but then I did get to discuss fainting with Louis Theroux the next day. You don’t get to do that kind of thing in banking.
There’s very little in life – sad moods, bad weather, early flights, traffic jams – that can’t be improved by playing ‘Love is in the Air‘ and a drinking large cup of black coffee.
Salad is rubbish. Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Especially soft French cheese on warm bread of some kind.
Nightclubs are rubbish. Spend an evening at a gig, or having dinner, or going for a late walk.
For some reason as you get older, kindness becomes more important. From your friends and family, to strangers in the street, to refugees fleeing a war zone, being kind is the key. But I will try everything I can to show E that this is the most important thing she can do from the start.
Watching things – gigs, lovely views, paintings in the Louvre, anything – through the lens of your camera phone is the scourge of modern times. Stop it. All of you. Put the damn thing down and enjoy the moment. Your little film will never recapture the feeling as well as your memory.
Never ever, no matter how tired or drunk you are, or who’s with you, go to bed without first removing your eye make up.
My tips for staying young? Inherit good genes (my mum has great skin – thanks mum) but otherwise – drink lots of water, use a good eye cream, dance a lot, laugh more, find someone to keep you warm in bed, and once in a while give into the urge that makes you want to run like a child down the road.