Thirty was fun - kind of “I’m a woman now and shall buy expensive face creams and underwear should I so desire.” I actually have trouble getting the words out now. “I’m thirty…….one.” And the worst thing is? I’ll only get older each year. I have not made peace with thirty one. I want my twenties back. I want to get sloshed in the sun and end up at a gay policeman’s house belting out my karaoke rendition of Club Tropicana whilst wearing my friend’s furry slippers. Oh, I did that last weekend.
Anyway, I’ve always looked mature for my age. It’s true there were many positive sides to this. Uninterrupted teenage boozing and clubbing as I was never asked for I.D; a certain cachet to being the one who collected everyone’s dosh and scampered off to the corner shop to purchase 120 B&H, 80 Silk Cut and 70 Marlboro Lights, all in packs of ten to be doled out amongst my lovely school chums. Ah, the heady whiff of childhood. I didn’t really smoke much myself and don’t at all anymore – terribly ageing.
It wasn’t all harmless fun though. When we were up to no good it was me who got an earful, told I should know better and should have set an example to the younger ones, even though I was eight and they were all eleven. But I played on my apparent maturity, even insisting on wearing make up – pearlised pink lipstick and electric blue eyeshadow – the height of sophistication in 1985 I assure you.
Being about a foot taller than everyone else in my formative years meant I could hit a tennis ball no one else could reach. But while my cousins were nicknamed La Plus Belle and La Plus Jolie by our (ridiculously sexy) Belgian tennis coach, I was given the ungracious moniker of La Grande for six consecutive summers. Cheers Philippe.
Somewhere during my twenties I started to dread people guessing my age – why do people always play that game when I’m with friends ten years older than me who apparently look five years younger? Can’t they guess shoe sizes, star signs or how many people you’ve slept with instead?
And though I love the easy low key clothes made by Toast and Margaret Howell, I have to be careful to mix it up so I don’t look mumsy. I have a morbid fear of looking mumsy. I suppose on those rare occasions when I can’t avoid going to the supermarket, what’s to distinguish me from a housewife pushing their trolley round and round. Except that on Sunday my trolley contained a bottle of Campari, a bottle of soda water, some oranges and two fillet steaks.
At the checkout I couldn’t catch what the cashier was asking me.
“No, I’m not collecting those school vouchers and I haven’t got a Clubcard,” I guessed.
She leaned closer, holding up the Campari as she uttered those sweet forgotten words…“You’ll have to show me some I.D; I can’t place your age.”