The ageing process in my body has begun to quicken. This is my response!
Why, oh why, do we spend so much time, money, Polyfilla, unguents and injections trying to persuade those who see us – and our friend/enemy, the mirror – that we are caught in amber and never getting a moment older?
I am writing this in the full knowledge that I am just as guilty, every bit as vain, as the next man – or woman! I continue to bathe my tresses in secret and magic potions in order to continue the illusion that I am a true red-head, rather than the mousy-brown-segueing-into-grey reality; though, being essentially honest (not to say blunt), I then undo the illusion by telling everyone that I dye my hair! Duh!
But my new mirror is not of the flattering, arse-licking variety – and, when I gaze into its mysterious shallows, I am confronted by the truth: A face which is more used road map than smooth virgin territory. I am wrinkled. No two ways about it. My visage has been attacked, as one might say, by the minor earthquakes of age, and is fissured and faulted , trenched and riven, as a result.
Do I care? Sometimes, yes. When I smile broadly and the cracked parchment look stubbornly refuses to go away, I do have moments of lamenting the unlined and fresh skin of youth. But…
I will be sixty next birthday. How long, being realistic, could I expect my skin and other bits to remain taut and unmarked, eh? With bosoms ever-more reminiscent of knee-warmers, and a bum going south at a rate of knots, gravity was always going to win in the end – and, to be frank, a damn good job too: If the dermal layers on my mien sorted out their lines by sagging down the slope of the rest of it, I’d be wearing my boobs as boots by now and my posterior would need a wheelbarrow to travel anywhere.
But, getting away from bawdy humour for a moment, the signs of ageing are also indicators of survival, and of Mother Nature ensuring that the knackered human machines get cubed ere they limit the room available for the next batch. They give us our sense of mortality and of the precious life we have been given. They remind us that reaching a wrinkled age is a privilege and not a right. They give us the stark news that not all beings born in our month, our year, our decade, will survive to Wrinklehood – and that, aches, wrinkles, sagging parts and dulled hair notwithstanding, we are bloody lucky to have reached our present, in my case moderately advanced, age without having to be put down for failing the MOT.
So, yes, of course it would be lovely to have a pert behind, mammary glands which do not need a bra designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, skin like velvet and a body which does not creak and groan like a rusty gate in a high wind. But, I have had all of that and more – and, in my dim and distant youth, took it all for granted, as we tend to, scorning the sages who told me that all this, too, would fade and age and wither.
For decades, I have looked younger than my years. Now, I do not. That is fine. I am a Crone and there is no embarrassment in looking like one. In any case, our looks have little to do with the raw material and everything to do with the spirit enlivening the inanimate clay – and I still have plenty of spark left!
I shall continue to dye my hair, openly, because I adore being a red-head – but I am not going to get into the heavy make-up habit at this stage: I have never used it on a regular basis and have no intention of filling in the San Andreas Fault Lines on my face with all that gunk! Nor, for the record, do I have any desire for a face lift or a boob job or liposuction. What the hell is the point in trying to look twenty when you are about to qualify for a bus pass? Peachy buttocks in tight jeans are all very well and good, but what do you do with the frontal overhang? Tuck it in? Plait it? Crochet a basket for it to loll around in?
I am ageing. My body tells that story in several volumes. So be it.