5 Brilliant TV Series For The Discerning Middle-Aged Couple

jeshoots-com-606648-unsplashThe old man and I watch a lot of detective series together. It’s the only genre that hits the sweet spot for both of us. For him, there are car chases, guns, and psychopaths  – although, sadly no dragons – and for me, there is typically a decent representation of female characters – albeit, few of them survive to the end. 

I’m not great at suspending belief for the sake of entertainment or indeed following the plot of any storyline with more than a handful of characters, so while I enjoyed Game of Thrones, my decaying brain found the magnitude of the cast and locations very confusing.

Unlike Unforgiven, which is another outstanding British series and almost on a par with the quality of Line Of Duty and Luther – although, I’m not sure that anything can come really close to Idris chasing baddies through the streets of London – which offers some gruesomely believable plotlines, a mesmerizing cast, and seriously pretty, chocolate box locations.

In fact, I only found one very minor flaw with the series. Because, is it just me, or is anyone else seriously amazed by the way that characters ‘called in to help with police inquiries,’ can remember EXACTLY where they were and what they were doing between the hours of 9pm and 12pm on February 3, sixteen years ago?

I mean…I struggle to remember what I was doing last night, and when friends reminisce about some great night we spent together three years ago, I can’t remember a damn thing about it.

Of course, I suppose that if I was a killer, I might remember burying the body of some poor woman in the middle of roadworks on the North Circular. But if not, I’m a little sceptical about being able to remember who was a guest at my party on New Year’s Eve, 2009. On the rare occasions that I feel nostalgic and drag out the family photo albums, sometimes I struggle to remember when the photos were taken, their location, or even which child I’m looking at!

Anyway, for those of you mid-lifers that are struggling to find a tv series that keeps you together and awake beyond 8pm,  Unforgiven is one of the best series we’ve watched over the past few months, and I’ve added a few other suggestions below:

Band Of Brothers – Understandably, there was only one woman in the entire series, (who is taken out by a bomb), but WOW! this is a truly amazing series, on a par with the standard of Saving Private Ryan. Starring a young Damian Lewis, this series will make you seriously think about the true meaning of ‘dark times.’

Unforgiven – Great cast, gritty storylines, and typically in-your-face realism which is what I love about good British detective series. You won’t find any perfectly-manicured cops on this show – they’re all damaged and saddled with personal baggage – but I love the way the characters’ personal relationships are woven into the storylines.

Jack Irish – We’re late to the party on this one, but what’s not to love about the self-deprecating wit and charisma of Guy Pearce? Great twists and turns in this awesome Aussie series.

Killing Eve – I’m a tad reluctant to add this to my list, but I can’t deny that this series was highly entertaining with some strong female characters that keep you on your toes all the way through. Personally, it got a wee bit silly for me towards the end, but that might be my issue with artistic license.

Better Call Saul – I haven’t finished this series yet, but the old man swears by it.

A Postmortem Of Twenty-Five Years Of Marriage

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As we hurtle towards our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary – celebrations and condolences for which are still under negotiation – it seems to me that the timing couldn’t be more perfect for a postmortem of our relationship.

 

I’ll be honest with you, as the product of divorced parents, I never expected our marriage to last, and like many couples in long-term relationships, we have experienced our share of highs and lows. Particularly this year. Living TOGETHER, and working from home TOGETHER, have inevitably created pressure points that at times have pushed us closer to our own re-enactment of the last scene in “The Notebook”.

 

And yet, here we are, still breathing, still together, together forever – words he taunts me with when I’m grumpy – as we morph into the middle-aged stereotypes we always denied we’d become. He is the archetypal grumpy old man who shouts at the television, wears socks with sandals, and feels no guilt about excusing himself from social gatherings. I am the highly-strung, middle-aged other half, secretly more suited to life as Betty Draper, in spite of my feminist idealism. 

 

My father describes our marriage as a life sentence, and sometimes, (as some of you will agree), it feels like it. But although marriage doesn’t get any easier, the ageing process does have a clever way of smoothing over cracks that in the past we might have left exposed. And perhaps, as well, both of us feel like we’ve passed the point of no return in our relationship. The idea of intimacy with anyone else is terrifying, we are comfortable with our silences, and unapologetic about the deterioration in our physical standards.

 

Our marriage has enriched and evolved like a fine wine. Not like those schmaltzy, finger-down-your-throat senior love matches depicted in British movies – usually set in India – no, we are more Jerry and Margo Leadbetter from “The Good Life” or Ethel and Norman Thayer from “On Golden Pond”. We have traded the fireworks for a resigned acceptance of how we should behave at our age, although secretly we keep our swords sharpened.

 

When he is loving life, I hate it. When I’m chill, he’s a stress ball. While he condemns me through his silence, I am a spitting, yapping Rottweiler. While he rarely criticizes me, I prepare a review of him each morning to contemplate throughout his day – although I have noticed some underground attempts to alter that status quo, demonstrating a worm-turning bravery in middle age that he concealed from me as a young man.

 

The other day he accused me of not putting the lid back on the toothpaste.

 

‘What lid?’ I countered, bristling as I frantically racked the wine-addled cells of my brain for a visual of our bathroom vanity and the scrunched up toothpaste tube.

 

This… image1 (1)

 

PETTY – I’m sure you will agree. And yet, pettiness evolves with marriage in the same way that deep love and respect do, and so: his refusal to refill the oats container, the fact that he only empties the recycling box once it has overflowed and the way he asks me what’s for dinner the day before – a cardinal sin in the universally accepted rules of marriage – have all been duly noted, and will be used in retribution, sometime in the future.

 

But he’s my best mate. I know what he’s going to say before he says it; he has steered me through more dark tunnels than I can remember, forcing his sweaty hand into mine exactly when I’ve needed it. He makes me laugh when I am determined not to, and his impression of Miguel Maestre from The Living Room has to be seen to be believed.

 

Admittedly, his close relationship with the dog is bordering on seedy, he has rarely bought me flowers, can’t cook for toffee, and is useless when it comes to DIY. And yet he can put a smile on my face even when storms rage around us.

 

The set of scales has always wavered precariously in our marriage, yet somehow, it always finds its balance in the end.

What To Watch Next? The Viewing Dilemma Faced By Every Middle-Aged Couple

bear-3145874_1920As the final episode of series 3 of The Wire reached its conclusion last night (and if I’m honest, we were no clearer about what the fuck happened during its twelve episodes), the old man and I reached another crisis of epic proportions in our marriage. What to watch next? Because what to watch on tv when you’re middle-aged, intolerant and with almost twenty-five years of marriage under your belt, is an ongoing dilemma.

 

Our parents had it so much easier back in the day. With the choice of Crossroads or Corrie in the UK, and (I imagine) Skippy or The Young Doctors here in Australia, they can’t have experienced the United Nations-style negotiations that we have to go through each time a series ends. Because, somehow, with a gazillion tv shows at our disposal, we still struggle to agree on one.

 

Perhaps, the problem is linked to gender, that is if you accept the premise that our differences are inherently linked to our sexuality, which I don’t. Because, (and without wishing to paint the old man as the Neanderthal male stereotype of Generation X that he is), he does like guns, cars and testosterone-fuelled panting from male protagonists running from creatures, villains, and epidemics, whereas I prefer something more real, more cerebral…and the rare sighting of a penis is a bonus. 

 

Have you noticed that men on tv and in movies are always running? Must be that action gene that we were diddled out of. Or perhaps they never read The Hare and the Tortoise?

 

Anyway…that means that there are few series we can watch together where one of us isn’t checking our phone every few minutes or yawning. Police series seem to be the only genre where there is some vague correlation in our tastes, although there is only so much Wallander or Hinterland I can watch before suicide becomes a more interesting alternative. 

 

We have a list now – yes, the old man has become that fucking anal about this ‘we might as well kill ourselves stage of our lives’ (his words) if they ever stop making Peaky Blinders, Homeland or Billions.  And The Wire sat on our list for a while, mainly because it is set in the eighties and nineties and I don’t like anything old, but also, as the only female protagonist is a lesbian, that dashed all my hopes of seeing a penis. Fortunately, however, one of the lead character’s, Jimmy McNulty, is a bit of a player – because he’s a panting, running MAN – so there is some bare-bum action. Ladies – sadly, we have to take what we can get.

 

Anyway, we couldn’t ignore the reviews of the series, especially as the old man is a real IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes man, and he refuses to turn the tv on for anything less than an 8.5. So, if you’re looking for a polished, gritty police drama that focuses on the drug world in Baltimore, look no further. You will, however, require an interpreter to follow the slang of the young black Americans around which the stories revolve, although we have achieved a level of fluency as we head into series 4 and ight and ya feel me have become commonly-used words/phrases in our household; sadly, to the confusion of the dog, whose sparse vocabulary of twenty words was reached with the word dickhead.

 

So, as you can imagine, neither of us said anything at the closing music last night, but we were both thinking it. What the fuck do we watch now?

 

Any suggestions that meet the above criteria will be gratefully received. There will be bonus points for any penis sightings.

 

 

Help! I Had A Sex Dream About Malcolm Turnbull

I had a sex dream about our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the other night, which was particularly disappointing having forked out twenty dollars that afternoon to ogle see Chris Hemsworth in the latest Thor movie.

 

220px-Malcolm_Turnbull_at_the_Pentagon_2016_croppedFor those of my international readers who don’t follow Australian politics religiously, and haven’t a clue what an understated sex god our Prime Minister is, let’s just say that he is no Justin Trudeau… or Emmanuel Macron, but a fairly conservative-looking, middle-aged man, in his early sixties, with grey-white hair who looks like his days would be better spent on the golf course. ie., not necessarily the man you’d choose to indulge the last strains of your sexual fantasies with.

 

Of course… when it comes to leaders of countries, it could have been so much worse.

 

Anyway, appalled by my infidelity, I turned to Mr Google to see why I could possibly be fantasizing about a multi-millionaire who owns so many vast properties around Sydney that he refuses to live in the small, waterside mansion that is the official Sydney residence of the Australian Prime Minister.

 

‘To have sex with a stranger may symbolize a new you that is emerging due to changes you are going through. The stranger may also indicate you are open to a change or a new opportunity that is underway.’

 

Upon reflection, my dream was as weirdly bizarre and disjointed as the usual dreams I have after a couple of glasses of red and a curry. Although for some reason, our awkward middle-aged tryst took place in the Oval Office at the White House, and while I was trying to remember how to do my “sexy” face and conceal my muffin top into my granny pants, Malcolm kept stopping to take important calls about security. It was pretty frustrating. And then Kurt walked through the room, music blaring, and I did that mom-thing and shouted at him to turn it down.

 

Malcolm is actually sixty-three, a mere decade older than me, and objectively, I would say that he looks relatively fit for his age. It is still interesting though, that on the rare occasion that I re-open the gates of my sub-conscious to “sexual thoughts”, it should be with an older man because I always saw them as, well, “old”, and not as attractive as, say, the son of Odin. You see, sometimes I forget that I, too, am a middle-aged woman and no longer the fantasy of every younger man I meet. And usually I am reminded of this when I go to Aldi and some old geezer – usually in his eighties – takes a second look. Although, in reality, he’s probably checking out the Wednesday and Saturday “specials” on display behind me.

 

I suppose it’s lucky that as we age physically our perceptions of what is attractive change in tandem. Not in all cases, admittedly, but that’s how I assume it’s supposed to work in terms of evolution – the old die out to make way for the next batch of breeders. Fuck knows how all these old men taking younger wives will change the natural order of things.

 

Creepily, and it’s not something I ever thought about before my dream, I do find Malcolm quite attractive and it has nothing to do with his millions in the bank, power or his pad in Point Piper. As for his politics… let’s just say that there would be a lot of post-coital banter on the topic of the Asylum-Seekers.

 

Perhaps my dream is linked to some Freudian return to the protectiveness of a father-figure at this later stage of my life due to the scrambling of my eggs and the depletion of my sex hormones that make me feel under-appreciated. Whatever it was, no curry for me tonight.

 

 

The Link Between Insomnia In Middle Age And The Boomerang Generation

img_6828Biologically-speaking, there is a proven link between sleep problems, peri-menopause, and menopause. It has something to do with the dying noises created by your ovaries, dreams, and looks as they wither, and a lot to do with how much you hate the person sleeping next to you.

However, my own research lists other contributing factors, such as dogs in the bed, snoring and wind issues, anxiety about any fucking noise in the house or street and the nighttime habits of the young adults living in the house.

After a prolonged period of “self-discovery”, Kurt has succumbed to one of the realities of living in a western culture – that cigarettes cost money – and has got himself a job.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! H.a.l.l.e.l.u.j.a!

He is working in the type of music-themed bar, with its eye-blistering pink neon lights, thumping music and an entire menu dedicated to the evolution of the French fry, that you’d expect – in other words, it is the perfect fit for someone with ADHD.

However, he continues to live at home with us in AbouToDie-ville and so by the time he gets off the bus after his shift, it is often 2 or 3 am, a time of the night that correlates nicely with the first twitches of my bladder, the first dog snores, whelps and kicks and the time of the night the old man has usually reached the end of his patience and is planning my murder due to my own snoring issues.

So, the new routine has taken some adjusting to, the light sleepers that we are, still scarred by a really fun night spent at the ER with aforementioned son only last weekend – a story for another time – and the night only two days later when he nearly burnt down the house with the toaster and couldn’t stop the fire alarm.

Last night, he phoned at 2am to say that he had missed the last bus home and needed to get a cab – in other words, would we sub him until payday? It does worry me that Kurt seems to think that the money tree is paying his wages and that there is an endless supply of cash. After an argument back and forth between myself and the old man in bed (he is having his own sleep issues at the moment), we decided to put sleep ahead of good parenting and consistency and gave Kurt the go-ahead. Any parent knows how rational you are at 3am in the morning, although the old man’s new name for me of “Weak McWeak” seems a little harsh.

I have never looked good in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep. I am not one of those women that look naturally beautiful with no makeup. I have never been a morning person and I am certainly not a 3am person. Added to which, my hair is going through its own menopausal, existential crisis at the moment and so after seven hours of tossing and turning it looks like I have been electrocuted at high voltage. I resemble one of those troll dolls we used to have as children, that have probably been discontinued now for their political incorrectness to people with dry hair.

I am also currently trialing a new product for snoring (at the request of the old man), who has threatened me with divorce if I cannot find a remedy – best-case scenario – or he will finally lose control and stab me in the middle of the night in a re-enactment of the shower scene in Psycho. The product is called “Mute”, and is a small plastic contraption that looks rather like an IUD. You fit it into your nostrils and it opens them out to encourage breathing through your nose rather than your mouth. Once in position, it is fairly inconspicuous apart from the fact that your nostrils are unnaturally flared and there is a plastic ring that hangs down – in other words, you look rather like a bull and particularly unattractive, even by my nighttime standards. “Mute” is guaranteed to lessen your snoring as well as the number of times you have sex. So, a win all around.

And so, in my haste to get back to bed asap and complete the four hours of sleep I had calculated in my anxiety that I had left last night – best case scenario – it was somewhat unfortunate for the taxi driver that my deviant hair and plastic nose-ring completely slipped my mind as the lights of his cab lit up my bedroom window and I went down to pay him.

 

 

How Much Do You Drink?

That’s the question that makes you cross your legs in shame in middle-age, similar in awkwardness to when the doctor used to ask you how much you smoked or how often you have sex, or (more pertinent these days) when was your last mammogram? Fact: every smoker lies.

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The ‘walk of shame’ these days is related to how often you go to the pub or the bottle shop in a week because apparently us middle-aged folk (and particularly Generation X) are leading the way in alcoholism. And it’s seriously affecting our health. Even I can’t ignore the stats about the increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease due to alcohol – not to mention the anti-social behavior that goes hand in hand with binge-drinking.

 

However…

 

Don’t you think it’s all a bit over the top? I mean, people have always drunk alcohol – apparently, it’s been around since 2000BC so even Jesus Christ would have gone on a bender at some point – and the Mediterranean diet, which condones drinking at lunchtime and dinnertime, has some of the lowest records for cancer and heart disease.

 

You might be aware if you follow this blog and my Facebook page, that I am a self-medicator of the alcohol kind and medically-speaking I am an alcoholic because I drink most nights of the week. If I moved to Spain, where up to thirty-five units a week is acceptable, I’d be fine – for the sake of humor, let’s ignore that that figure applies to men. Indeed, not only do I self-medicate, I am also medicated to get me through each day. And don’t get me wrong, I have tried other ways to improve my mental outlook – exercising, clothes shopping and binge-eating – yet none of them comes close to a glass of wine at the end of the day.

 

We drinkers are being as shamed as smokers were a decade ago – and I know, because I was one of them, and it was a very black period in my personal history and the only way I got through it was by consoling myself that at least there was still wine.

 

Not anymore. It’s a crime against humanity to drink more than one unit of alcohol a day now – up there with smoking while pregnant, eating red meat or asking your teenager to get a beer from the fridge. ‘Drinking’ has been stigmatized and I thank god that my kids are old enough and wise enough to accept me for what I am without too much judgment.

 

But it’s hard to ignore the criticism when the topic du jour at every social event is how much you drink.

 

And I know many people that have stopped drinking in middle age or cut back because it no longer agrees with their aging cells, and sometimes I do wish I could be one of them. Fortunately, I’m a battler and so when I first began to feel the detrimental side effects of white wine, I  persisted and switched to red in a valiant attempt to make it work.

 

I don’t judge. I don’t have a problem drinking with people that choose not to drink, although it can be hard to deflect the judgment from my husband who now abstains during the week and then binge drinks at the weekend.

 

For the record, I think I drink in moderation. I don’t binge drink and I usually have at least one night off a week – although admittedly, the benefit of those nights can be lost the following night in a celebration of just how great my discipline is.

 

Life is short. And perhaps moderate drinking will make it even shorter, in the same way that sky-diving might, or a poor diet, or stress – which can be nicely combatted by an odd glass or two. We all have our different crosses to bear and different mechanisms for coping and we take risks just by getting into a car each day. For some, drinking helps manage the pain of that weight.

 

I drink ten units a week. *lying*

 

Fairly Standard Share House Behavior

We suspected that the old-fashioned water tank in the new house might prove a problem. With two twenty-somethings that think that fifteen-minute long showers are normal because they are used to a water-on-demand system, it was never going to be an easy task to educate them in the consideration of others. 

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You’re welcome!

 

 

I’ve decided not to think about what they do in there.

 

Hence, the first world luxury of continuous hot water has had had to be scrutinized and reworked and the old man spent last weekend working out the exacting calculations (he divided 250L by 4) for how much showertime each of us is entitled to when you have an archaic tank of hot water.

 

A MAXIMUM of five-minutes, apparently. Easy for him to say when he has no hair to wash but since then he has taken up sentry duty outside the kids’ bathroom with a timer.

 

‘What if I need to do a complete body shave between Winter and Spring?’ NC asked.

 

‘That should be plenty of time,’ he replied smugly, confirming all our suspicions that he knows nothing about women.

 

My shower this morning was three minutes, fifty seconds, so I’m allowed to continue to reside here. Kurt’s was seven minutes, ten seconds, which puts him in the “under warning” category.

 

It is amazing how petty you become when you become middle-aged live in what is effectively a share house. With this new house came another new set of rules, or should I say, ANOTHER set of rules that we impose and hope that Kurt will adhere to.

 

One of them is that their friends are only allowed to visit for up to an hour, then they must go out – our attempt to thwart past “friends dropping by” sessions that have turned into full-blown parties in which our deck has begun to resemble an LA crackhouse. Harsh I know, but needs must if we are not to alienate our new set of neighbors, although the old man was somewhat perturbed this morning when he learned that his meeting with a business associate had been allotted a similar time limit.

 

His project next weekend is to create some sort of alarm system – Walter White-style – for those activities that have to be time-limited. Unfortunately, he is not Walter White so he may simply buy an alarm clock.

 

Other pettinesses that I am confident will fall as quickly to the wayside once we lose the will to live, include:

 

No consumption of food in the bedrooms

Empty water bottles to be refilled and replaced in the fridge

Wet towels to be hung up to dry ie. You do NOT take a clean one each time you take a twenty-minute shower

Dirty plates to be put IN the dishwater

No use of heaters after 1st October

 

We can dream, can’t we?

 

There are also certain custom-made rules, designed specifically for Kurt and his particular brand of foibles and special needs.

 

Inevitably, such tight security has reduced the atmosphere in the house to a war bunker. There are lots of furtive glances, hiding around corners, crumb searches of bedrooms and dobbing in and the Princess has become a carrier Spoodle for messages. Each of us has been forced to employ their own survival tactics. Alliances are yet to be formed.

 

Fairly standard share house behavior, I’d say.

 

 

Things I’m Too Old For – Music Gigs

This post is the first in a new series called “Things I’m Too Old for;” an idea I came up with the other night when we went into the city to watch a gig roughly two nights before we moved house – cos that’s what you do when you’re about to experience one of the most stressful events of your life. restroom-99225_1280

 

I know, I know… I can already hear you mumbling about how ‘you’re never too old,’ or ‘you’re only as old as you feel,’ but frankly, there are a few things I’d rather not do anymore.

 

Skiing, festivals, camping, menstruation and… live music gigs, as it turns out.

 

For those as stubbornly entrenched in the Victorian era as I am when it comes to their approach to modern living, the definition of a “gig” is a live performance – something we used to call a “concert” – and it is more usually of the “popular” genre of music. We went to see an Australian band called Angus and Julia Stone, an “indie” band – according to Kurt – whose repertoire has a “sitting on the beach with a spliff and can of VB” vibe to it, somewhat along the lines of Jack Johnson.

 

The old man and I have a special connection to brother and sister, Angus and Julia, because they went to Kurt’s school and their father was his music teacher. However, that is as far as the depth of the relationship stretches – in other words, not far enough to guarantee us good seats, hence we found ourselves positioned once again in our favored spot at the top of Everest.

 

When you find yourself in row U without your oxygen mask and no clear access to toilets, it’s best not to think about your plan of escape in the event of a fire, especially in a concert hall that’s so old, the staff breathes heavily on you for air conditioning. I realize that the location of the toilets should not be a dealbreaker when it comes to having a good time, but it is, especially after the five glasses of wine and all-you-can-eat Thai I’d swilled down beforehand. So it was with some concern that I found myself in the middle of our row and nowhere near toilets, fire escape or the Maltesers, although I needn’t have worried about my bladder showing me up, because it turns out that Millennials can’t hold down more than a few beers either without needing to piss and at one point our row looked like it was doing the Mexican wave. All this, before the band had even bothered to show up – around 9pm – which is usually my bedtime.

 

As Kurt refused to let me take my binoculars, I had to imagine what Angus and Julia looked like in the flesh from our great height and through the haze of smoke and moody darkness in which they performed. I hate to admit it, but it did cross my mind several times that it would have been easier and a darn sight cheaper to watch them on the tv, but I realize how old that makes me sound.

 

Fortunately, by the third song the old neck began to move rhythmically to its beat, in and out in ostrich fashion, and I began to feel the return of my groove, and somehow, I managed to convince myself I was enjoying myself in spite of the old man’s snores and the Millennial texting beside me. It took every ounce of my strength not to ask her to turn down the glare on her phone.

 

Dare I admit to being a little bummed when Angus and Julia came back for their encore? Nevertheless, I dug my nails into the old man’s arms stoically – he’d been biting at the bit for thirty minutes so he could be first out to the car park – and we both yawned our way through the dying throes of those last few songs, while all my brain could think about was my bed.

 

Eyebrow Problems In Middle Age

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I went through another of those middle-aged duty calls in order to meet the aesthetic expectations placed upon womankind the other day – the utter onerousness of a waxing session. I shouldn’t grumble really, hair-care it is the only beauty treatment I pay for to meet society’s expectations of beauty so that I don’t terrify small children. And as men probably say, no pain no gain!

 

And what a true pleasure it is, lying on a bed in the hands of some aggressive Asian while she hacks out clumps of hair from the most sensitive parts of your body.

 

It really hurts, waxing. In my experience, it’s an old wives tale that it gets easier the more often you do it or that over time the hairs stop growing back quite as fervently. On a pain scale of “one” being someone running their clammy hands through your hair and “ten” being childbirth, the upper lip wax is definitely an eight. 

 

But it’s either that or turning into a man.

 

In the same way that my menstrual flow seems to be defying the biology of my age, I appear to be accumulating more hair in my brows, and they now include a selection of grey, wiry ones that spring out at odd angles and at odd times of the day and are, as you can imagine, particularly attractive. Many of my friends have the opposite problem, and have been forced to invest in eyebrow pencils (with interesting results) or are considering tattoos with which to frown at their entitled adult children more convincingly. Eye brow pencils remind me of my paternal grandmother, who thought that her purple tint coordinated perfectly with her orange brow line.

 

I could plait my eyebrows if I wanted to and the only reason they have to be yanked out by the Thai psychopath down the road is that I can’t see them, thanks to that other life-changing disability of middle age – long-sightedness. One day I think they look fine, the next day, the look of horror on NC’s face at the sight of the two hairy caterpillars crawling across my forehead, tells me everything I need to know.

 

How come men can get away with bushy brows? The old man has his own set of salt and pepper eyebrow curtains, yet they look quite distinguished on him – although nowhere is nature’s cruel sense of humor more evident than by that mass of tangled hair that frames his eyes rather than his head.

 

I know that big brows are in! – thank you Cara Delavinge and Lily Collins – and that you can sculpt them, tint them and even turn them into the Golden Arches if you really want to make a feature of them. Recent styles have included bleached brows, dragon brows –which I assume we can blame GOT for – feather and plaited brows, and now there are even squiggle brows.

 

The way forward is “micro-blading”, apparently, for those of you that need a bit of help with “filling”. Alternatively, I could donate – at a price.

Is It Middle-Aged Women That Are Invisible, Or Just Women In General?

There have been a couple of incidences lately that have got my tits in a twist about how invisible women become after the age of fifty – unless we go around waving a banner that says ‘Look at me, I’m here.’ 

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Is It Middle-Aged Women That Are Invisible, Or Just Women In General?

Sadly, it is becoming commonly accepted that as women age and become less physically attractive (by society’s standards) and recognizable for their function as reproductive vessels for the population, they become invisible in a society where beauty is rated higher than intelligence for them. And while the optimist in me would like to believe that with progress and education, society cannot surely continue to judge half of its population on their physical merits alone – I’m not so sure, anymore.

 

I’m also certain that the majority of us middle-aged women don’t miss the wolf whistles from tradies and the comments to ‘smile, love’ that thankfully disappear around the time we became less ‘fuckable’ by society’s standards and more comfortable within ourselves. But ‘invisibility’ is not only an attack on our physical prowess, it is also a scathing judgment about our worth and contribution.  

 

At a talk about feminism on Saturday,  Tracey Spicer discussed her treatment as a female journalist and news anchor before the age of forty – when she was told countless times to ‘stick her tits out’ or the equivalent and reminded frequently that she wasn’t paid to think; when she had a baby, she lost her job. So obviously, there is still some way to go.

 

It appears that society expects women to work to retirement, to equal men in their contribution, as long as it is on its terms ie. in the jobs that suit its narrow-minded gauge of what women can do. And for older women, that gets trickier for roles in the media, the arts, or indeed any job where they are in the public eye. Even those mature women who survive the harrowed journey to success that culminates in high-powered positions in politics or the corporate world, continue to be judged on their shoe style, their parenting choices, and their work/life balance, rather than their input to the role.  And interestingly, this at a time when governments are doing their best to encourage mature women back into the workforce.

 

My personal beef about not being recognized as an equal member of society (because I no longer fulfill the ‘fuckable’ brief), has nothing to do with how people interpret my sexual availability, it has more to do with the acknowledgement that although I might not have the brains, beauty and youth of someone like Miranda Kerr, I still contribute to society and to the joint finances of my household, and that should mean I have a right to be treated in the same way as my husband.

 

A week or so ago the old man and I went to our local bank. Throughout the fifteen-minute process required to set up our two new accounts, I was completely ignored by the teller, (a woman, I should add), except for when asked for my ID to confirm my secondary citizenship and saggy tit status. I did check that I hadn’t left on my invisibility cloak – which I have been known to don when the bins need to be put out or the dog pukes on the carpet – but no, I had left it at home – so I can only assume that I was being judged for my gender. Now I know that banks can be a bit old-fashioned, but is that really an excuse? I can give countless examples of similar treatment in restaurants when the bill has automatically been passed to the old man, even after I have ordered our meals.

 

Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive, but when is this disparity in the way women and men are treated going to change? If I was the sole breadwinner of our family, I would be mightily pissed about it. I understand that it can be tricky in hospitality to know who is taking responsibility for the bill, but is it really that hard to ask ‘Who’s paying the bill?’, in which case I will quickly point to my husband. The assumption that the old man is paying is highly belittling to my contribution. I have always worked hard – apart from two short periods where my vagina was knitting itself back together after our two additions to the population – I have paid my taxes and I have striven to give back where I can to a society that no matter what I do, treats me as substandard.

 

We need to educate people, ladies. In the same way that we need to call out sexist comments when we hear them, next time you feel overlooked or made to feel invisible because of your gender, say something. Let them know that you have a voice, in spite of the lines on your face and high-pitched voice that perhaps like mine goes awkwardly a few decibels higher in the face of confrontation. Remind them that we contribute as much to society as men do, if not more when you take into account the taxes on sanitary wear, wine and chocolate.

 

Do you ever feel invisible? Is it an age or gender issue?

Style SOS: Can I Still Wear Leather Now I’m Middle-Aged?

For all this newfound confidence in my middle-aged style,  (here), as NC often reminds me, (because one of the reasons God gifts us intelligent adult daughters is for them to consistently rip us apart by reminding us about our failings), occasionally I’ve come a cropper with my style evolution/revolution. 

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Sandy from Grease, anyone?

At the moment I’ve got this crazy thing about black leather biker jackets. So you see my problem.

 

Nc will remind me about when I told her you couldn’t possibly mix black with brown, or when I decided that ankle boots were only a fad, and one which I was way too old for – because the last time I’d worn a mid calf boot was back in the eighties, during my Madonna days, when my lace up booties looked really quite resplendent with my permed hair, head scarf, baggy shirt and pencil skirt.

 

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Like A Virgin Kymsara Rayna @flickr.com

And before anyone gets on their high horse about middle-aged women being allowed to wear whatever they damned well choose, let me say for the record that I’m all for that….BUT…(and hear me out here)…there are a few looks that make me just that little bit queasy.

 

Which is not to say that NO-ONE can wear them. I have a tall, super-elegant Indian friend who would look fuck-off fabulous in a sack… and I hate her.

 

So here are the six items of clothing I’m careful about splurging on now I’m fifty-…:

 

Leather – as I mentioned above, the black leather biker jacket is everywhere in the high street at the moment, and if you knew how many times I’ve hovered over them longingly… but something…and I think it might be THAT look from the young retail assistant… stops me in my tracks. Even though… another equally luscious, long-legged, blonde friend of mine rocks leather pants…

 

Methinks it’s time to change my friendship group.

 

Denim jackets – I know many women, as well as successful fashion bloggers my age, that still support the denim jacket. So why is it that when I put one on I feel like such student and I didn’t even wear them when I was a student?

 

Mini Skirts – I admit that with my recent surge of confidence I’ve raised my hem level over the past two summers, but only when I wear flats or sandals, in spite of what the Sex and The City girls got away with. I just can’t do the mini skirt with heels look anymore, because frankly I look like a sex worker – my body simply says no, it feels all wrong… young-woman-1268531_1280

 

Crop tops – … just no.

 

G Strings – I’d be lying if I said that my personal decision not to wear a G string has anything to do with style, when it’s so obviously a ‘comfort/hygiene’ thing, (because how the fuck can it be good for you to have string stuck up your crack all day?). But does anyone really think G strings look attractive on old bums?

 

Platform shoes – Unless you’re vertically challenged, (and I know I’ll be accused of being an old fuddy-duddy for suggesting this by aforementioned daughter), but what is the science behind adding a two-inch platform to the sole of your shoe? It looks clumpy and trashy even on younger women… so on the mature woman…

 

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Studded platform shoes by Lynn Friedman @flickr.com

 

Now in our day, we wore real platform shoes.

 

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Elton John: Platform Boots by Craig Cutler @flickr.com

 

Anything you’d like to add to the list?

Turning Middle-Aged Invisibility On Its Head

It seems ironic that at this time of my life, when I have the greatest confidence in who I am, society is trying to write me off. wonder-woman-552109_1280

 

Unfair that this game change should come at the same time as my kids finally need less of me,  and I have more time to develop my own interests, evolve and come to terms with this new fifty-plus version of myself; in my opinion, at a point in my life where I have the most to offer. Just as it isn’t a speedy process for the larva to develop into a butterfly, it has taken energy and considerable amount of education for me to feel confident with my newly developed wings. But I kind of like how they fit now. I have much more to offer – more to say, bigger thoughts to share and more confidence in my job and my talents.

 

I don’t feel invisible on a personal level, so if society is determined to push me behind curtains, I’m not going out without a struggle.

 

Although I admit that initially the middle-aged invisibility thing stung a bit – like when you’re at a bar and the short leather skirt sidles up next to you with way more in common with the straying eyes of the hipster barman than you do. But do I seriously miss being forced into cheesy, suggestive chit chat when all I want is a drink?

 

Not so much.

 

Do I miss the lewd glances and wolf whistles that men mistakenly believe to be flattering, but which at times were terrifying?

 

Not at all.

 

Am I waiting impatiently for the day some thoughtful young person offers me their seat on the train?

 

You bet!

 

Kasey Edwards suggests in her piece for Daily Life, ‘I miss being sexually attractive’ that ‘in the defence of every other woman who is missing her hotness, the reason we lament the loss of our sexual currency is because for much of the time it’s our only currency.’ 

 

I disagree. I don’t miss being sexually attractive, because I still feel sexually attractive. Perhaps not to nineteen year olds…but seriously, why would I want to be?

 

Nevertheless, there is obviously some truth in her comment, even though the value of sexual currency must vary from job to job, because it certainly wasn’t a very valuable commodity during my stint in education, nor would it help in the job I do now. I do remember one office job, however, six or seven years ago, when I worked with female peers who were all a good fifteen to twenty years younger than me, and evidently ‘hot’, when I wasn’t so miffed about being overlooked by the men in the office, as irritated by being ignored by the ageism of my young female colleagues, who obviously judged me as too old to be fun.

 

It’s funny that society should want to hide me away at the exact time I’ve worked out who I am and my place within its narrow walls; during a period of my life when instead of burying myself away, I actually want to shout out ‘look at me!’ And in particular in relation to my personal style – which is way more polished than it has ever been before, aided by a new confidence that I never possessed in my twenties. Because it has taken time and experimentation to teach me to believe in myself, to understand what works for me now; which colour palette clashes with my Rosacea; which cut best draws the eye away from my muffin top.

 

And the best bit about being invisible is the  thrill I get out of scaring the local school children whenever I go outside without make up on.

 

 

Help! When Your Fashion Sense Screams You’re Middle-Aged

According to this hugely influential source, 10 Things Style Errors That Make You Look Older, the common woollen cardie is ageing on middle-aged women; which means I instantly lose all my middle-aged fashionista credentials.

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Matrix cardie – Ha! Bloody Ha!

 

 

Because I love me a nice cardie.

 

If Madonna needs to wear a cardie to show she’s grown up in order to improve her relationship with her teenage son, as recommended by one writer recently, I’ve obviously been middle-aged my whole life if wearing cardigans is a reliable yardstick with which to judge. 

 

The cardigan has always been a staple of my wardrobe – I bloody love them! – a passion that may hark back to my British heritage and being frocked up from an early age in Laura Ashley dresses with matching cardies; or may have something to do with my shocking circulation, (up until the recent body thermostat issues, that is, at the hands of Menopause). I’m always cold, you see, and just as toasties are my favourite go-to comfort snack, the cardie is my go-to clothing for comfort.

 

Cardies seem to reproduce in my wardrobe with the speed of rabbits, and in almost every conceivable shade; not bad when you consider I live in a city which has an average temperature of 28 degrees.

 

I’ve recently progressed to the less Nana, I like to think, more sophisticated, full-length version which I secretly believe gives me more height and makes me look grander; as well as the sleeveless cardie which looks stylish in Autumn and the first chill in the air – although in practical terms I’ve discovered a loophole in the design, because you can only wear a sleeveless when its too warm for a real cardie, and then the rest of your body gets too bloody hot.

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The Sleeve- Less Cardie

 

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Power-cardie by Alannah Hill

I have an Alannah Hill cardie that I almost sold my children for to afford because I believed it would be a great power-cardie for work, that I’ve sadly never worn… and I really don’t know why.

 

The boys do their Keanu Reeves Matrix impression whenever I wear my long black cardie, which was my first-born, full-length cardie and has been stitched up several times at the cardie hospital, yet nevertheless has served me loyally.

 

This neutral cardie came from French Connectionlurving FC at the moment – and is soft and light, long and floaty, the only problem being that it is SO LONG it gets caught up in my heels, which provoked a very embarrassing moment recently when I tripped up the stairs to my favourite local Asian restaurant.

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French Connection cardie

 

Luckily, they know I’m a big drinker and barely batted an eyelid.

 

I bought my khaki sleeveless (above) at Zara recently, which looked a shade of copper in the shop and once I got it home I realised it coordinates with absolutely fuck all in my wardrobe, apart from black. Luckily most of my wardrobe is highly funereal for obvious slimming reasons.

 

This grey, woolly mammoth (below) from Witchery adds about ten kilos to my frame but is great for those winter evenings or hormonal humps when all you want to do is hide yourself away, eat loads of pasta, drink hot chocolate and languish in warmth.

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Woolly Mammoth cardie

 

This very yellow, little mustard number was retrieved from a local market, and although it’s an odd color, I admit, (and is extremely reminiscent of the Princess’s puke on an empty stomach), I’ve worn it to death.

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Putrid-Yellow Cardie

 

And finally, there’s my very safe, caramel mid-length cardie, my all-time favourite because the relaxing but classic colour combo of caramel and black are the colours I feel most comfortable in. It was taking a nap at the time of these photos.

 

And when you feel comfortable, you look good.

 

What’s your favourite piece of clothing?

 

(Images provided by NC. No cardies were hurt during this very professional photo-shoot)

Friendship, And How Twenty Minutes Can Be A Lifeline

This was going to be a post about how I’ve finally found my doctor, which is a big deal in my life because I’m a bit of a messed up, menopausal, hypochondriacally-challenged shell of the former woman I was most some of the time. So finding a great doctor almost feels like I’ve won the lottery, and on top of that, my discovery also led to some other home truths associated with the value of friendship.  clasped-hands-541849_1280

 

Firstly – to the doctor. So I had to visit the doctor the other day to replace some scripts before the Easter deadline and the fear of the pharmacy being closed when I have a major episode, and when I couldn’t get an appointment to see my regular doctor – who I’ve been having secret misgivings about recently – I asked to see the only female doctor available.

 

You see, as I predicted would happen in my post here, things have gone a bit south since I dared utter those words ‘Kurt has turned a corner’, and we’ve experienced a testing few days this week – nothing serious, just the sort of half-week that can make the world look black and white, force you to increase your medication and question what the fuck happened to your life etc.

 

But needless to say, that eggshell situation at home made me feel a little more vulnerable at the prospect of sitting for twenty minutes with some over-enthusiastic new doctor who knew nothing about me, because when you are questioned by a stranger as to why you are on anti-depressants, it’s hard to know where the fuck you start with such a small window of time and a lifetime of shite to get through, and without the risk of flooding out her tiny office.

 

But this doctor turned out to be a real doctor, in the old-fashioned sense, who didn’t look at her watch the minute I started rambling off into unchartered territory; who begged me to come back and see how she could genuinely help me. She seemed to understood the daily pressure our lives and our marriage are exposed to, living with a sad, oppositional kid who suffers from several mental health conditions, some of which are still seen by many as excuses for bad parenting, yet which can be so challenging they can make us question our own place in the world.

 

Because it’s not imaginary when you are trying to close wounds all the time; both physical and mental.

 

And I talked and she listened, and for that precious twenty minutes it was easier somehow than talking to a friend, because I was paying for the doctor’s time, so I knew she had a duty of care and that removed the stigma of guilt associated on my part for being self-centred or depressing or passing on my negative energy.

 

And it reminded me of a time a few years ago when I was telling a friend about how I felt that a mutual friend of ours was dragging me down mentally because she was depressed and I simply wasn’t in the best mental state myself to console her. And this friend suggested that I extricate myself from the relationship for the short term and to preserve my own sanity, because we don’t need to take on the bad energy of others.

 

And at the time – and I hate myself for it now – I was at such a low ebb I selfishly felt her point was valid.

 

But what I’ve realised since – because of the number of times over the past few years I can recognise that I’ve bored the pants off my close friends with my tales of woe when I’ve needed a pair of ears to listen to me, and they’ve listened patiently and been non-judgmental – is how much I owe to those friends who stood by me, not only on the days when I was fun to be around, but also on the days when I was and still can be a self-absorbed piece of shit.

 

The ability to listen to others is one of the greatest gifts you can give as a friend. Twenty minutes is a very short time in the eyes of most, yet it can be a lifeline to others.