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Getting in a tight spot over age-old dilemma

Patsy is reading a book which she hopes will help her, as she says, "accept the process of ageing without really becoming old". It has a rather convoluted title -- The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting: Ageing Without Growing Old.

"And how does it propose to do that?" asked Maggie, who spends most of her disposable income trying not to look 50 and almost bankrupting herself in the process.

"It's written by a French woman," explained Patsy. "And really what she is saying is that you should be taking lovers and having sex right up until you are 90 -- and beyond if you can."

"Ninety!" shrieked Josie, blanching at the thought.

"Just because you are getting on a bit, your desires don't diminish, you know. You might be a bit slower, but sex can be all the better for this because it's more sensual."

"I'm just saying because it's slower it will also last longer."

"That's the problem," muttered Maggie. But Patsy was only getting into her stride.

"It's all about desire and staying desirable. The French are great at that. Many French women have a couple of lovers way into their 70s. I'm only 50 and I can't even get one. I need to do something about it."

Baggy

I asked her what she had in mind.

"Leggings," she replied.

I was expecting something a bit more spiritual so I was a little taken aback, not least because Patsy and leggings haven't always seen eye to eye. She occasionally wears black ones teamed with a baggy pink jumper which is so big she could attach a surf board to it and sail it down the Shannon.

"Lisse leggings," she explained. "John Lewis will be launching them this month online and I reckon they are the answer to my prayers."

She'll need to do a lot more praying than that.

Anyway, in a nutshell, Lisse leggings have been dubbed the "tummy tuck in an instant" and will cost Patsy about £45 (€54).

The difference between Lisse leggings and the rest is that Lisse have inserted a control panel that sucks in the tummy, hips and thighs, promising to banish spare tyres and muffin tops. Where the fat is supposed to go isn't mentioned, but then it never is.

It still sounded to me like Patsy was resisting the results of ageing rather than accepting it, which is not what Marie de Hennezel, the author of the book, had in mind.

"You are supposed to be embracing your fatness, not trying to hide it away," I said.

"Are you saying I'm fat?" she demanded.

Oh, God forbid.