Saturday, 3 October 2009
Simon Cowell is reputedly throwing a $1 million party for his 50th birthday. It seems to be the time when everybody throws caution to the wind and spends their way into the next decade. I got there with my last birthday. The zeros had never worried me before. Everyone has their crunch point and for me it was the 6s – you could no longer say you were in your early 30s, 40s… so 36 and 46 were bad years. But 50 came as a bit of a shock to the system – and I had a long run in.
My birthday came at the tail end of a long and expensive year of 50th birthday parties – the weekend in Germany with an old schoolfriend, the weekend in the Isle of Wight with the university crowd, the summer party on the river in Essex and I am afraid I skipped the weekend in Paris due to poverty.
Meantime all around me were the reminders of closing decrepitude. Facebook suddenly loaded up with adverts for HRT, menopause vitamins and 50+ dating websites (sidebar - do men get this depressing array or do they get Thai massage and Ferraris on the basis that they are going to have a mid-life crisis and blow all their dosh on inappropriate toys?).
I live almost next to the Westminster One-Stop Shop (council offices) and suddenly realized that I am now eligible for their toenail clipping service (for those who can no longer bend enough to do their own), 50+ coffee mornings, and a host of other elderly goodies. The final straw came when a friend, who is over 70 and is beginning to look for retirement villages, showed me some brochures and I saw that some of them take people from the age of 55.
I am sorry – I don’t feel ready to be a semi-old person yet. I might be creakier in the joints than I used to be, but age is in the mind and telling someone that they are getting old is just bad for them. Far better to send them off down the Amazon in a dugout canoe!
So, I could either sit in a corner and mourn or have the best party possible. Result? A gaggle of close friends and family went to Marrakech – one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, a perfect combination of east and west, with warmth and sunshine, friendly people and good food. I celebrated surrounded by many (though sadly not quite all) of the people I love best in the world, in stunning surroundings. And now I am going across Africa by train. The next big family celebration is my father’s 80th birthday. Never one to be outdone, he’s planning a trip to Luxor. I hope that when I get there I will be as young as he is.
And meantime, happy birthday, Simon – remember that Westminster Council are ready and willing to give you a great deal on coffee mornings and pedicures.