What Nancy Mitford can teach us about diet

I’ve been revisiting Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate and have found it just as enjoyable second time round. You can’t beat the lady for incisively witty observation at the upper end of the social scale. I, of course, can’t vouch for its accuracy because 1. I’m not quite old enough to have been around at the time of which she writes (late 1940s) and 2. even if I were, I have no firsthand experience of those rarefied circles.

I was struck by her treatment of a topic that is as universally enthralling now as it was then, i.e. the latest diet fad. Continue reading What Nancy Mitford can teach us about diet

Why I’m a Glee fan

Confession time: I am a Gleek. Yes, at 60 – older than the oldest character on the show – I am a devotee of high school musical show Glee. How did this come about? Is it a case of uncanny attunement with Gen Y? Or simply arrested development?

In my previous post LOL I briefly touched on how much our taste in humour may change with age.  Glee is  billed as a “dramedy” but for me it’s the comedy aspect that’s most appealing, especially those insulting riffs by Sue Sylvester, Brittany’s deadpan delivery and Kurt Hummel‘s camp dance moves. I love the song ‘n dance numbers, the more dancing the better. Straight songs, not so much. I’m not a fan of the big swelling ballad (or smaller ones, come to that) and all the blatant manipulation wrung out of every emotional note.

But back to Glee and why it keeps drawing me in. Could it be I’m indulging in la recherche du temps perdu, even though my own adolescence had only the vaguest resemblance to the Glee scenario?  Or maybe a secret sense that if I can still laugh at (mostly) the same things that amuse the young, then maybe – just maybe – I am not completely past it (whatever “it” means). In short, maybe I still have a vestige of awesome wickedness…?

In the spirit of Glee, I dressed up in an outfit that I imagine an Ancient Gleek might wear (see pic). Everything is from my regular wardrobe, though never before assembled in this particular juxtaposition (except for the hat, which is actual fancy dress I once wore to a party).

Ancient Gleek.
Ancient Gleek.

I can’t end without mentioning the sad death last year of Cory Monteith, Glee’s beloved Finn Hudson. The storyline that traced the relationship between him and Rachael Berry was one of my favourite parts, as it was for most Gleeks. Now we’ll never know the next chapter. Cory’s lopsided smile will always tug at my heart.

Mel Smith in memoriam

Some of my fondest  LOL moments are from the satirical UK TV show Not the Nine O’Clock News which aired in the early 80s. The recent sad demise of one of the stars, Mel Smith, at the age of 60, got me thinking about what we find funny and how much that changes (or not) as we grow older. We’ve probably all had the experience that what once made us laugh hysterically can no longer raise more than a nostalgic smile. Or even cause a grimace of embarrassment.

Mel and the team, however, can still press all my laughter buttons. One of my all-time favourite scenes features Mel as a gorilla expert, though, as he acidly points out, decidedly nothing like “David bloody Attenborough”. And FYI, it’s officially a “band” of gorillas – though apparently “flange” and “whoop” are becoming acceptable in actual scientific circles. Gerald the gorilla (aka Rowan Atkinson), that lippy and opinionated primate, has much to answer for.    

Too cool for my boots?

Way back in the last decade of the last century I stepped out in a pair of Caterpillar boots. Pretty cool and audacious for a 40-something, I thought, as I clomped around town. I felt ready to kick ass big time, should the need arise. Not that it ever did.

In the fullness of time, as Cats waned in coolness (as all things must), I packed my boots away and forgot about them. The only time they saw the light of day was during occasional bouts of decluttering, but somehow I could  never quite bring myself to pass them on and they survived every cull, every move around the globe. It probably had more to do with their sheer size – it seemed oddly wasteful to throw away something so hefty and substantial – rather than any lingering nostalgia for coolness (real or imagined).

Then the other day I came upon them at the back of my wardrobe and vaguely recalled a current trend for the clumpier boot. And the thought occurred to me: If they were cool at 40, could they be cool again at 60? Does the coolth ratio increase with age or is there an inverse dwindling ratio? Do fishnets make a difference? Could it be that I’m too cool for my Cats?

Still trying to figure that one out. See for yourself.

Das Boot.
Das Boot.


When your wattle starts to show

I first became aware of The Wattle phenomenon thanks to Ally McBeal way back when. Not Ally herself but the Dyan Cannon character, whose wattle was an object of desire for one of the male characters (a toy boy to her cougar). It was just another of the bizarre plotlines which were such a feature of the show. Who in real life would want to get up close and personal with a wattle, even Dyan Cannon’s? Nothing I could relate to then, not at all, thought I, complacently stroking my silky smooth underchin area.

But in the last year or so I’ve become aware that I too have a wattle forming below my jaw. Turkeys aside, it’s not just Dyan Cannon and I who are thus afflicted. Nora Ephron (RIP) had a lot to say on the subject in her book, which I haven’t actually read but I’m sure must touch on the wattle. Judging by the title, not only do we women of a certain age have wattles, we also feel tremendous shame for having them. Like it’s our fault for making the world an uglier place by parading with our wattle necks.

Now I ask you – is that fair? Should we be held responsible for our wattles? Did we bring them on ourselves by daring to grow old? And compounding our sin by sullenly refusing to rush off to our friendly cosmetic surgeon to make it all look better? In my case, I couldn’t afford a CS, no matter how friendly. So is that another link in the chain of shame, the financial lack that stops me from fixing my unsightliness?

Kiss my wattle.
Kiss my wattle.

I think I’ll go and have a coffee now. Meanwhile, welcome to my wattle world (see right).

On going grey


For my first post I’ll go straight to the jugular, the dreaded sign that youth has fled or is at least heading for the exit. Yes, that invidious first grey hair. I of course have long passed that particular sign post and am well on my way to a total grey-out (see pic).

More than 50 shades of grey.
More than 50 shades of grey.

Why is it that such an ordinary experience stirs such strong feelings? Women are still more prone, though men aren’t far behind. People are divided into those who dye and those who don’t and both sides are firmly entrenched. Those who do seem to regard grey hair as a shameful sign of frailty, while those who don’t (and here I speak for myself) are putting a brave face on facing up to their mortality.

Dyeing is usually the first line of defence to ward off ageing. It’s been around for centuries, you can DIY, it needn’t cost much, and can (if done well) take off a few years. I admit I only went commando on my head a couple of years ago. So what made me cross the line to join the other camp?

Well, for one thing I was curious to see what I really looked like. How grey was I really? To hasten the process along I cut off several centimetres and reserved the right to recolour at any time. At first I kind of slunk around, self-conscious about exposing my guilty secret yet elated at letting the world see me au naturel. Several times I almost succumbed to the lure of the dye. But as time went by I found myself relaxing in the presence of the new (though old) me.

Now I can’t imagine reaching for the dye again. Here are the advantages I’ve found:
* No more slave to my hairdresser
* No worrying about how the real me looks (I already know and so does everyone else)
* And best of all, on a windy day I love it when the wind exposes my roots for all the world to see. See if I care!

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