March 10, 2011

From damaged to dewy – in a month!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 14:59

As women get older, there are many things that we come to learn:

*  Wooly tights really are vital on a cold day

*  You can suffer all sorts of ignominies in the name of fashion, but if your feet hurt, you’re screwed

*  Nothing dates you more quickly than yellow eyeshadow and a streak of bright blusher – it may have worked in the 80s, but it doesn’t work now

*  Songs in the charts really aren’t as good as those from back when we were young

and, most importantly,

* Our skin is no longer as firm and wrinkle free as we remember!

What happened?  Overnight, I appear to have gone from a fresh faced 20-something to someone I don’t really recognise – yes, I still have MY features, but they appear to have fine lines, dry patches, the occasional sun spot…

So in order to make things a little bit right, I have spent a small fortune on a course of three intensive facials at my local beauty salon.  And despite parting with more than £165, I can safely say this is the best money I’ve spent all year!

From the heated treatment bed (which had me virtually snoring during visit one) to the soothing cleansers, toners and moisturisers used throughout, it’s an hour a month that really does do the trick – not just with the overall appearance of my face but also in allowing me the chance to relax, clear my brain of everything and just do nothing!  And what’s better than that? 

My delightful therapist today used some sort of electrical appliance to extract dirt from my pores and close them up again – I resisted the urge to comment on the “appliance of science” for fear that this would date me beyond any sort of doubt!  Damn you tv advertising!  And after half an hour of poking and rolling with said tools, she then swathed me in luscious creams and left me to ponder my fate for another 15 minutes.  A bit more buffing and I re-emerged a new person:  to the point that the receptionist commented on how dewy my skin looked!  Not bad for someone who, two months ago, was told that my sun damage was going to cause problems if I didn’t rectify my behaviour!

And isn’t it interesting – one comment like that, and I have been skipping around like a spring lamb all day!  (albeit one with creaky post-netball ankles!).  I can see why celebrities put so much store on beautification – it DOES take up the time (which I have plenty of at the moment!) but oh the results are so gratifying.

The only thing is, I had to spend another significant three figure sum on the creams and potions to bring home and keep up the new routine – this COULD get expensive!   But if I look like a 30 year old, who cares?


February 22, 2011

When it comes to fashion, what exactly IS age appropriate?

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 19:00

It’s London Fashion Week.  Cue sheaves of pictures across magazines, newspapers, websites and blogs of stick thin 16 year olds wearing next year’s “big look”…and what looks they are!

According to the Giles Deacon show, come the autumn fashionistas will be bedecked in leather skirts and corsets, cinched at the waist to within an inch of their lives and ready to strut their stuff in skirts lined with horsehair and embellished with lace.  At other shows, we have been bombarded with a selection of tweed mini skirts in bright colours (great if it isn’t actually cold – but, in reality, these will be accessorised with purple blotchy legs as, apparently, tights are “not in” for next autumn/winter!), flat caps with satin evening coats (not sure if the combination of Sloane Style and ferret catcher will ever catch on, but there you go) and polka dots on everything, even the models’ faces!

While the coltish, leggy teens and twenty somethings who’ve been strutting their stuff on the catwalk manage to (just about) carry off even the most outre of styles, is Fashion Week just another example of ageism?  How many of the looks paraded this week (and in the preceding weeks in New York, Milan and Paris) would actually look even vaguely acceptable on someone over the age of 30?

And yet, how many of the twenty somethings that these designers are obviously targetting actually have the money to buy anything more than a pair of designer tights?  Surely those who can actually dip into their wallets and afford more than buttons and a collar are actually slightly older than the clothes horses parading the designs on the catwalk?  Or are wages now much higher for school leavers than for those who have amassed experience and knowledge in the workplace?

There appears to be a “window” of time in which the wearer and the clothes they like actually coincide – but why does society then dictate that anyone over a certain age will only be dressing appropriately if they wear comfortable shoes and trousers with an elasticated waistband?  Call these particular things jeggings and we’re into a whole new ballgame, where they are suitable for the younger members of the “fashion set” – so who decides when they change their moniker and become “clothes for the oldies”?

Personally, I’m more than happy in leggings, jeggings, harem pants and anything that’s comfortable – and if they’re supposed to be clothes for 20 year olds, then so be it.  Country Casuals and Alexon are NOT where it’s at as far as I can see!  So why don’t retailers realise that it’s not about age, but attitude?  There’d certainly be a lot more money going through the tills if the tyranny of age didn’t permeate every single clothing store on the high street!

February 17, 2011

I blame Twinkle!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 18:40

I guess you could say that my love of the media was born when I was about 3.

The weekly walk to the newsagents to collect a copy of Twinkle comic, with its stories, colouring in challenges and quizzes was the highlight of my pre-school days.  The doll with the clothes you cut out and “hung” on her was the cause of much excitement and squealing – no week was complete without one and I would take up residence at the kitchen table, with a glass of orange squash and some round ended scissors to make sure she looked as fabulous as possible before my dad came home from work.

From Twinkle, I graduated to Mandy – a proper “big girls” comic, with the right sort of slightly smelly newsprint paper and colour stories about being at boarding school, owning a pony or dancing for the Royal Ballet.  All aspirations which, of course, I totally failed to achieve, though it didn’t stop me dreaming.   And then it was on to Jackie Magazine – the be all and end all of my week. My friends and I used to pore over the articles about how to get a boyfriend, redecorate your bedroom to be “cool and trendy” (never managed to get any of THOSE ideas past my dad, unsurprisingly) and how to dress like Kim Wilde or Bananarama!  The hours I spent trying to get a fashionable “rolled” fringe are imprinted onto my memory:  I must have looked like I was wearing a banana across the front of my face (fair play to my parents for not snorting directly at me!).  Let’s not discuss the disappointment that crashed like a tidal wave through my class when another girl in our year was chosen to appear in a picture story, and got to Kiss The Boy!  Now THAT was being cool.

And so began a lifelong obsession with magazines – Just 17, Look Now, Mizz all marked my progress through my teens into my twenties, where I started to obsess about fashion and music with magazines like NME, iD and The Face. As I got older, and my circumstances changed, I added to my repertoire according to my interests (Empire & Olive are now regular fixtures in my world) and discarding old “friends” that felt dated or irrelevant (sorry Elle, but you had to go, especially when your covermount t-shirts are never over a size 10!)…but still the magazines keep piling up.

Browsing in Smiths last weekend, I started to wonder, though, where are the magazines for those of us whose ambitions are not centred around having hundreds of children? Yes, you can buy specialist cookery or travel titles, but what about a womens’ magazine that says it’s ok to be sans anklebiters?

Red started positively, but is now full of “fragrant” ladies intent on sending their sproglets to public school in matching knickerbockers and StartRite shoes. Easy Living is similarly invested in a Cath Kidston utopia where the sun always shines, the furniture is always the right end of the “distressed” scale and there’s always a babysitter on hand at a moment’s notice while mum wafts round garden in her house in a comfortable purchase from Toast. In fact, looking through the plethora of womens’ magazines which clutter up our bathroom every month (I keep telling my husband they’re old copies – he’s not convinced!) it’s clear that there’s generally between a quarter and a third of every one that I flick through without reading it, because it is totally irrelevant to me!

Magazine publishers, how about considering this huge untapped market? The one without children which still has plenty to say? I know that, around a dinner table, my friends and I can keep a conversation going for hours without lapsing into baby talk or discussions about new schools – so why not publish something that caters just for us? We apparently have the money to spend!

Or have I just stumbled upon my big money making scheme? I HAVE copyrighted this, you know!!! 😉

February 10, 2011

Discrimination by any other name!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 12:05

Isn’t it interesting how careful society has now become to ensure that we don’t offend?  Or break the law?

I’ve just had a very interesting conversation with a headhunter about a job for which (without blowing my own trumpet too much!) I’m pretty much perfect – right experience, right knowledge, right attitude, right salary bracket…but apparently I’m not suitable at all…because…well, this is where it gets interesting:

“….they want someone a bit closer to the target audience”………I buy the products concerned regularly so I AM the target audience….cue silence, followed by…

“….well, what they really want is someone who’s capable of running a team of trainees” ….I’ve done that…and have been very successful doing so….pause, then…

“….what I mean is, they want someone who is in tune with youth culture”……..I’m more familiar with the top 40 than I am with the selected works of Brahms, and I read gossip magazines on a regular basis – I have been known to obsess about trash TV, shop at stores full of teenagers and 20 somethings – need I continue?

I wasn’t going to let this one off the hook, I can tell you – and so she thrashed around for five minutes before finally saying “well, I’m not sure that you’re quite what they’re looking for.”

At this, I asked her straight out, “Is it because I’m over 40?” to which there was a huge pause (quelle surprise!). 

To her credit, the headhunter then tried to redeem herself by pointing out, “I didn’t actually say that!”  (cover your backside sweetie, why don’t you?) but if pushed, she would have admitted it!  The implication was clear for all but the most simple of individuals.

So what’s the big deal about being over the magic 40 mark?  I can still walk, talk, have my own hair and teeth, know what I’m doing and have the experience to back it up.  But apparently, communications is something that only the young work in.

How am I supposed to earn a living then?  By taking up knitting or baking cakes, perhaps? I think not. The hill that I’m allegedly over is a long way off, let me tell you!  Seems daft that 20 years of experience is worth absolutely nothing, but then I guess in our throwaway society, perhaps we no longer value those who have something to add?  There’s definitely something out there for me – just means I have to scour those job ads a little bit longer, I guess. Onwards and upwards!

(Incidentally, I have challenged the headhunter concerned who – let’s face it – will make money out of me if I get the job, to get me an interview – and I’m considering removing my date of birth from my CV.  Let’s see how those actions take effect!)

February 3, 2011

The tyranny of the push chair!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 17:19

New parents, please be aware – once you get your paws on a push chair, this does not allow you to forget all those manners that your parents drilled into you as a child.

I spent a very happy hour in my local high street yesterday, browsing the shops and windowshopping lots of lovely shoes and bags that I can’t afford at the moment!  And then, as if released like the hounds and the hunt, for some reason we were overrun by mums with toddlers in pushchairs – and chaos descended.

A previously busy but easy-to-deal-with afternoon was suddenly overwhelmed with sticky fingers, screaming brats, parents who obviously cannot see more than a foot in front of said vehicle and crushed toes as they barged their way through stores.  Can anyone explain why having a push chair in your hands automatically gives someone the right of way in all walkways, footpaths, roads, in fact anywhere that other people might want to actually exist?  And why on earth should those without the aforementioned chairs step aside and worship at the altar of kiddy screaming as parents push past without even the basic acknowledgement of a “thank you”?

Perhaps pushchair manufacturers should instigate a pushing “test” – if you can’t control your chair, then you shouldn’t be allowed to buy it.  And there must be some sort of etiquette involved in this purchase – if you can’t see other shoppers around you, then you shouldn’t be allowed to use the chair in a built-up retail area.

Other recommendations might be:

* Sticky kiddy fingers must be kept within the boundaries of the push chair at all times

* Pushchairs are for pushing babies and toddlers ONLY – and if your child gets out of the chair to wander around, then the chair needs to be folded up, not pushed along as an extra shopping trolley

*  If your child gets out of the chair to walk around, it is YOUR responsibility as the parent to keep an eye on said infant – not the responsibility of the shoppers around you to ensure that it doesn’t steal merchandise, dribble on goods or generally wreck shop displays (all of which I witnessed yesterday!)

and, most importantly

* Push chair users must never walk more than two chairs abreast during the hours of daylight.  Why should I step off the pavement just because you want to chatter inanely about breast pumps and the Mothercare sale while walking four abreast?

This sort of opinion won’t win me any friends among the children-friendly chattering classes, but really, is it so much to hope that non-parents are due a little respect too?

February 1, 2011

Guilty Pleasures – How Old is Too Old?

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 16:39

Am I the only 40 something who’s pathetically excited about the return of Gossip Girl on ITV 2?

Spotting it in my weekly copy of Heat magazine (which I have to subscribe to a. so I don’t miss it and b. so I don’t get too many pitying looks in the newsagents or c. so I don’t get asked how old my daughter is) provoked a little squeak of glee (incidentally, love that show too!). But ask many of my contemporaries and it’s clear I’m a social outcast, with no taste or judgement.

I love a classy foreign film (preferably with subtitles) as much as the next film buff, but who says that I can’t enjoy a lightly plotted tv show full of beautiful youngsters as well? From Dawson’s Creek to Glee, 90210 to Hollyoaks, I’m not ashamed to announce to the world that I love a frothy show as much as the most up to the minute 17 year old, and I would argue that they are as well plotted and written as many popular “adult” shows on UK television. Can you really debate the merits of cerebral television for grown ups when things like “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” and the trashy thing with John Hannah in a submarine that was on last year (I zoned out in favour of catching up on the gossip mags) are so mindless. Let’s face it, Dr Who’s Christmas Special (which used to be a clever, witty, challenging programme) was an hour of mindless drivel – all style and not one jot of substance. I lost track early on – what chance did parents watching with their children have of being able to explain it?

And it doesn’t stop with TV. I’m proud to say that I’m happiest listening to Radio 1 during the day (not Magic or Heart with their incessant regurgitation of the Greatest Hits of the 80s and 90S) – I lived through those bygone years, I don’t want to hear all that drivel one more time.

So here’s to all those of us who refuse to let go of youthful influences – I’m convinced it’s an attitude that keeps me young!

January 31, 2011

Overseas and definitely old enough to know better – but who cares?

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 18:52

What is it about the British that when we leave our home shores, we realise we still have the ability to enjoy ourselves without worry?

Have just spent a magnificent weekend in Marrakech with a group of friends aged from 40-60something and what was clear about the group (captains of industry one and all!) was everyone’s total commitment to having a good time! And while this particular group of friends does party more than most, it started me thinking why it is that we allow received behaviour (ie things that we learn that we can or can’t do as we grow up, because of society’s attitudes / danger issues etc) to dictate our social time from the age of about 25?

While I appreciate that it’s not acceptable to take your clothes off and run around a meeting room naked as you climb the corporate ladder, it’s still a shame that people don’t laugh out loud as much as we do as children (or even teenagers). And don’t allow conversation to ramble here there and everywhere, while drinking more than our recommended daily allowance in a single sitting, and staying up way too late? When was the last time that YOU really let your hair down?

During our stay in Marrakech, the group meandered all over the city, enjoying the sights, trying new things, failing miserably in some cases on the bartering required in the souks, but throughout experienced everything with smiles and laughter. Yet I know that today it was noses back to the grindstone, and probably (in most cases) a sober and serious day.

I’m not advocating for a second that barristers start wearing red noses in court or newsreaders start telling one liners during the six o’clock bulletin, but wouldn’t life be a bit nicer if we could all tell each other something every day that makes us laugh out loud? The souks of Marrakech are filled with people who (on paper) have it much harder than us privileged Britons, and yet they laugh and joke and take rejection of their sales patter with a smile and a sincere handshake. Something Cameron’s Britain could do well to learn, I’d suggest?

January 25, 2011

Age isn’t an issue for me – is it for you?

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 19:49

Today I took the plunge and spent money on my teeth for cosmetic reasons – not in a “get them filled and sorted” kind of way, which I resent enormously (Osborne, are you listening, stop screwing about with the health service) but in a “this isn’t really necessary but I’m going to do it to make myself feel better” way.  Yes, I am descending into the American need to enhance myself cosmetically (albeit with only a tiny toe in the water) – I had my teeth whitened.

Although I gave up drinking coffee eleven years ago (and, incidentally, haven’t missed it since), my teeth have borne the brunt of many happy cups of espresso and Americano and while I can’t say they were in the “chocolate” end of the scale, they were certainly looking like a milky latte.  So off I trotted to a salon in Fulham for an encounter with the bleach!

Two hours later I emerged blinking in the gloom of a London morning with definitely shiny, noticeably whiter teeth.  OK, they aren’t going to stop traffic at 20 paces, and don’t resemble Ross in that Friends episode, but having gone up 14 places on the colour scale (apparently the usual result is 8, which makes me feel pathetically proud!)  I felt like skipping…which I would have done, but for the parting comment from the receptionist at the desk:

“Ooo, they look great – it takes years off you.”

What on earth do you say to that?  When I left home this morning I felt fantastic – I’d had a good night’s sleep, had even managed to bung on some slap, and then that.  From a 21 year old stick insect with a lollipop head who looked like eating a whole croissant might have made her explode.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a witty retort on the tip of my tongue and was (sadly) far too well brought up to engage in any rudeness, so I’m afraid I turned on my heel and left.  But what sort of comment is that to make?  I shop at New Look (occasionally!) and am perfectly au fait with the nuances of grime, garage and house music (crunk passes me by, but that’s fair enough).  Am I so old that I now shouldn’t be taking care of my appearance – at 44?  Oh dear.

January 24, 2011

Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fluffyand40 @ 12:38

Can I say from the outset that actually I like children.  I just don’t want to have any of my own.

And for this, as I march into my 40s, I’m increasingly treated like a social outcast, someone to be pitied or reviled in equal measure by certain colleagues, friends (though they don’t stay friends for long with attitudes like THAT!), relatives and acquaintances.

Is my life over because I don’t have any kids?  Far from it!  But I’m finding myself pushed more and more into a role of “also ran” – jobs aren’t available to people “of my age” (although, of course, employers would never word it quite like that!) and any mention of my childless state brings out a rash of sympathetic glances / queries about my general health and wellbeing or mental state / general disbelief according to the audience.  What’s wrong with wanting to go out and dance til my feet bleed?  To drink myself into oblivion on a night out in town (although, of course, the wrath of grapes is much more severe as I get older!)?  To watch teen tv and get a weekly burst of excitement from my (subscriber) copy of Heat magazine?

So is this it?  Is life REALLY over for me, as I wave goodbye to 40 and head into my fifth decade on Planet Babyworship?

I’m hoping that this blog will give me the opportunity to find out, to explore new areas and ideas, and share some of my experiences as a fortysomething with the mental attitude of a teenager who’s still reading Jackie magazine.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is a wonderful thing.  What a crime to waste it on children.”

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