Before we get started, let me just clarify a couple of things. Firstly, getting old does not mean wearing comfortable shoes. My passion for sky high-heels in vibrant colours rages on unabated. Nor does it mean abandoning dancing for more sedate activities. I may look naff and be completely out of time, but I dance with commitment. And lastly it doesn’t mean you’re useless with technology. Mr B is an avid consumer of all things tech, with the result that I haven’t been able to work anything remotely technology-based in our house since my twenties. It’s really not an age thing, it’s a husband thing.
So putting the myths aside, here are three ways to tell you are getting old:
- You love the news
When I was growing up, my father thought that television had been invented for the sole purpose of watching the news. In those days there were only three channels and no internet, so options were limited, but he would frantically toggle between them trying to catch as much news as he could. It seemed like a pointless and boring thing to do. I mean, the news is the news, right? Wrong! Now, I am older, I am obsessed with it. What’s more, I love documentaries too. I watch them late at night and in secret when Mr B is out. I particularly love anything that features Lucy Worsley (a historian with attitude – seriously, follow her on Twitter) or Mary Beard, the Cambridge Professor who writes for The Times and makes Roman history rock. If you’ve taken to watching the news on a reasonably regular basis or started enjoying documentaries, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re definitely getting old.
- You think Mary Whitehouse was right
Younger readers may not remember Mary Whitehouse, but for years she campaigned for taste and decency in the media. She saw anything that was remotely popular, interesting or targeted at a teenage audience as a dangerous risk to the moral fibre of our society. I always imagined she was some joyless old harridan in thick stockings and comfortable shoes. But now I have two daughters, I see her entirely differently. I don’t want my children to grow up thinking they need to dress or gyrate like the women they see in pop videos. And I don’t want their boyfriends to think they should either. I don’t want them posting nude selfies on Twitter and I worry about the imagery and expectations that young people are exposed to. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, I find I’m with Mary, are you?
- You’re shameless
There are a number of things I’ve started doing that would have seemed appalling and inappropriate five years ago. For starters, I dress to please myself, not to blend in. And what pleases me is loud colours. Recently I’ve started talking to strangers. I was always mortified when my mother used to do it, but now I find myself happily chatting away to random people in the checkout queue at the shops. And I already mentioned my penchant for dancing. It doesn’t bother me in the least that I look ridiculous or that my dancing is 80s-style. I was wondering whether to highlight dressing, chatting or dancing as a sign I’m getting old, but then I realised that they all signify the same thing: basically, I’m shameless. If you’ve done even one of these things recently, you’re on the slippery slope to shamelessness with me.
If you have read all this, and think that these are not the signs of getting old, there is a very simple explanation: you don’t recognise them because you are not old yet. Come back in five years’ time and we can have a cup of tea and reminisce about how naïve you used to be!