Wednesday 19 September 2018

14 was an educational year...

When I was 13 Jackie magazine implied that 14 would be the year that everything would happen. I would get a bra, go to parties and get a boyfriend. I got the bra but the parties and the boyfriend didn't materialise until much later.

I remember that year so well because it crawled by. I thought I would never grow up, but then, suddenly, I turned around the other day and I had reached 50. These past five decades have hurtled by. Where did it go? Did I ever get a boyfriend? The answer is yes. I also got a job in a bank, got married, had two great kids, took redundancy, got drunk at my going away do and told the manager he was a 'gobshite who had sold his soul', lodged my redundancy cheque before he could cancel it, took up freelance journalism, lost all my money in bank shares, got cancer, lost a boob and ended up with two new ones.

I also learnt a couple of things along the way.

1 Do not judge your future partner by what he wears, drives, earns or if he is heir to the family estate.

Do, however, listen to your mother because she is looking out for you. If she wrinkles her nose, and says, "His eyes are too close together and I don't like the way his feet are turned in," her instincts are usually correct. Run like hell. Find someone who makes you laugh and hold on to him. That sense of humour will see you through a lot.

2 There are no two ways about it. You will get wrinkles.

I have so many crows' feet I could open up a bird sanctuary. The cosmetic industry may tell you otherwise but no amount of creams will make them disappear. Yes, you can have surgery but have you seen Joan Rivers lately? Her face is what happens if you cross Homer Simpson with a Pekinese bull dog. Trust me, you do not want to go there.

3There will come a time when you will be glad to wear thermal underwear, listen to Morning Ireland, and grumble about how the 'young people of today never had it so good'.

Ignore those young ones who snigger when you start to sound like a curmudgeon. What goes around comes around. In the blink of an eye they, too, will be shouting back at self-service machines in supermarkets because they can't pack their groceries quick enough. You are getting older. You are allowed the occasional bout of crankiness.

4 Your health really is your wealth. There are worse things to be called than a hypochondriac so who cares if you run to the doctor every time you find a lump. I hit the jackpot with my last one which turned out to be a nasty little tumour. If you find something about your person that shouldn't be there, do something about it. You only have the one life and for that you need a healthy body. Keep it serviced.

5 Having cellulite or being childless is not a crime against humanity. Celebs are no different from us. They get depressed. They cry. Peddling images of someone with fat thighs or bags under the eyes does nothing except put on more pressure to strive for perfection. And as for Jennifer Aniston's (inset) fertility -- if she had a baby for every time a celeb magazine decided she was pregnant, she'd be earning more from her children's allowance than she would from her movies. Can we talk about something else please?

6 Feelgood sayings are patronising. 'Time with your children is never wasted'. It is if they won't eat their dinner. 'The key to change is to let go of fear.' Whoever said this has never been on Space Mountain. I could go on but life's too short ...

7 There will come a stage when glasses are more important than sex. Sex doesn't exactly go out the window but your days of wild abandonment are over mainly because you use the missionary position to catch up on lost sleep. Reading glasses, however, are a must-have. It is impossible to read the fat content on a bar of chocolate without them.

8 I now accept that I can't change other people. If your best friend's partner buys her an eternity ring and a helium balloon with I LOVE YOU written on it after the birth of their first child and yours buys you a bottle of Lucozade, it doesn't mean that he loves you any the less. He just wants you to keep your strength up. It took me many years to appreciate this one.

9 Never underestimate the power of memory loss and the goodness of human nature. As you get older your valuables go walkabout because your brain cells don't connect the way they used to. I've left my handbag in the toilet in Heathrow Airport twice, at the train station, on a bus to Kells and, last week, beside the peppers in Lidl. It has always been handed in. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing.

10 The grass is not always greener on the other side. Happiness is something that happens to you rather than something you can get. Beauty doesn't make you happy, neither does money. And using the same hair products as Cheryl Cole won't give you luxurious tresses that fall in waves down your back. You will need hair extensions for that.

Have you got any life lessons you want to share with other Herald readers? If so mail us at letters@herald.ie

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