I recently had a birthday. It wasn’t a ‘significant’ one in that it didn’t end with a zero but it’s been weighing on my mind. The problem is that the next one is ‘significant’ and having turned 49 I am now staring 50 in the face.

I know there is nothing I can do about it, but I don’t want to be 50. My hot flushes, rapidly shrivelling ovaries, wrinkles and grey roots are progressing regardless but there is something about that number that sounds quite old. Forty was fine. I had so many other things going on at the time I didn’t really have time to reflect, and it didn’t feel that old anyway and I didn’t look or feel that much different from how I was on my thirtieth. I feel older now though and I most certainly look it. This morning I had to give myself a good talking to as I lay in bed considering not dying my hair any longer and going grey gracefully. The realisation that it would take over a year of looking terrible to achieve this without cutting all my hair off will have my hair dresser rubbing his hands with glee and relief in equal measures!

Last summer I went to the 80’s inspired Rewind Festival in Henley to celebrate the 50th birthdays of three friends. It was great fun. The average age of the attendees was between 40 and 60, the music was pretty terrible but we knew all the words and the memories came flooding back. We dressed up as pirates (we couldn’t come up with a suitable 80’s theme!) and as there were about 30 of us camping and oooarghing it was a blast. We drank far too much and it almost felt like we were in our twenties again… with the exception that we all had all agreed on the glamping option with soft mattresses and posh loos and showers. Our hangovers also bore testament to the fact that we were 30 years further on!

And here is the next issue I am faced with on turning 50… the party. All my friends think I should have one. Unsure of what to celebrate as I don’t think reaching a half century is such an achievement since the advent of the National Health Service, and unwilling to part with lots of cash so that people can give me cards about being old and have hangovers at my expense, I really have no idea what I want to do! I don’t really want to DO anything. I would rather pretend it isn’t happening and that 1965 doesn’t take ages of scrolling to find on a drop down menu and I shall probably start to grow a beard.

My birthday is also in December. This is not a good month for outdoor options such as a barbecue. I have to compete with all the Christmas festivities and find an indoor venue, and as for a theme….

Jo Blackwell, who had written for us on TMK, has a photographic book dedicated to facing the big five zero called 50 Facing 50. She has interviewed and photographed many different people, discussing how they feel etc. I have read and reread her blog about it avidly but, I am ashamed to say, the inspiring posts have not made me feel any better. There is a part of me that keeps on saying “Well, it’s alright for THEM…”

There is nothing I can do. Maybe planning a party is meant to distract me and I will feel so hung over and dreadful on the actual day that I won’t care… We shall see!

Penny xxx

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