Middle age – how to know it has set in

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new glasses sxc sxc.hu File photo: It could also help those who are normally confined to their homes navigate shopping centres or simply walk to the corner shop.

London - As A flat-chested teenager, I prayed nightly for big boobs. Now, not only do I have them, but they get bigger every year.

It’s really quite alarming. I wear the wrong size bra because I am too scared to go and get my chest measured properly as I don’t want to be wearing a cup size that’s more than a third of the way through the alphabet.

Unless I intend to go to a fancy dress party as a Russian shot-putter, I will never be able to wear sleeveless clothes again. Once you hit middle age, your arms lose muscle tone and start to wobble.

If I lifted hand weights for hours every day it wouldn’t make any difference. I also, in certain lights, have cellulite on my arms. I knew I’d get it on my bum and legs, but my arms? I didn’t see that one coming. My upper arms are now in purdah for the rest of their days.

Here are some other sure signs you have arrived at middle age:

You get reverse wolf-whistles

Googling before and after pictures of facelifts and tummy tucks takes up a lot of my time, as does standing in front of the mirror, grabbing hold of my skin and pulling it tight – rearranging my folds of flesh to see what I might look like if I did have surgery.

When I was a skinny teenager, I would listen in disbelief as my chubby mother and her chubby friends sat around bemoaning how they could be so fat when they ate so little. Now I am one of them.

I am the heaviest I’ve ever been yet when I look at what I’ve eaten in a typical day it seems so little. How can it be?

Not getting many wolf-whistles is bad enough. Now I am in my mid-40s I am experiencing a new phenomenon – the retracted wolf whistle. This is where a group of young men in a white van drive towards what is clearly a blonde female form and whistle. They then overtake you, look back and realise you are the same age as their mother. This will then be followed by: “Oh, sorry love. Ignore that.”

High heels become your enemy

Nothing fits properly. Now I’m middle aged, I require a dress that’s cut to fit a size 16 around the bust, a size 18 around the middle, a size 14 over the bum and back to a size 16 for the lower part.

Staff in clothing stores roll their eyes and walk in the opposite direction when they see me coming. When I do encounter a sweet and helpful assistant my gratitude vanishes when she tells me that my “daughter” will love the clothes I have just bought for myself.

I have banned myself from some stores altogether as they are not good for my blood pressure. Some are so messy and chaotic that I find myself wanting to rearrange everything. Trendy shops which are so dimly lit you can barely see anything are also complete no-go areas.

I can no longer walk in high heels. A mid-height kitten heel I can just about tolerate for a couple of hours – at a push. But if I squeeze my trotters into anything resembling a spiky stiletto, then not only do I have the gait of a drunken sailor but, after 15 minutes, my toes go into uncomfortable cramp spasms.

You watch TV with the subtitles on

In my 20s the contents of my handbag were: keys, purse, lipstick, breath freshener, condom, spare pair of knickers. Now it’s: reading glasses, driving glasses, prescription sunglasses, packet of Rennies, cardigan and woolly hat.

I will no longer consider going to any pub or bar where there is the remotest chance that I won’t be able to sit down.

The sort of half-empty, brightly lit places I dismissed in my youth as being too lacking in atmosphere are now the very places I seek out. It means I’ll be able to sit, read the menu and there will be no queue at the bar or for the loo. Bliss.

My walking speed has slowed down considerably. Even when I think I’m going at a pace, I’m really not. The walk from my flat to the train station used to take me eight minutes, but I now can’t do it in less than 10 even if I march at full pelt.

If I have a big night out or event coming up I will check the weather compulsively in the days leading up to it so I can plan what to wear or whether to go at all. As one source can’t be relied on, I will check several weather reports online and cross-reference them.

Leaflets offering free eye tests, teeth whitening and dry cleaning discounts are guaranteed to find their way into my palm. However, people handing out flyers for a new bar or club or a zumba class will give me a wide berth.

TV viewing habits change as you hit middle age. I’m still not ready for Murder, She Wrote but if I stumble across a mid-morning show about people finding antiques in their attic or weighing up whether to emigrate to Australia – well, it’s not the end of the world. I also have to watch American dramas with subtitles on, because they mumble too much and I can’t understand what they’re saying.

You become a grumpy old git

My fuse shortens with every year and these days it doesn’t take much to incur my wrath. Those who take too long at a cashpoint will have me tutting loudly in their ear, people who stand on the wrong side of the escalator will have “ON THE RIGHT!” barked at them and any neighbour who puts anything in my wheelie bin will find themselves on the end of a campaign of poison pen letters. – Daily Mail


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