Naked from the waist up on a couch in cardiology, the last thing I expected to hear, as the male technician stuck sensors around my breasts for an ECG was, ‘You look very good for your age,’ writes Elaine Kingett. My brother, when I was moaning yet again about my dating disasters said, ‘Well, at least you’re lucky, you don’t look your age.’ I’m sure both remarks were meant as compliments, but both made me want to scream, ‘What’s my age got to do with it?’
The assumption is that we all want to look younger – not healthier or more physically fit or more stylish – and if we do, our lives will be happier. I think it was the news about anti-ageing gin that got me fired up about the desperate search for youth. Then there was the cognac with anti-ageing benefits, but that’s only available in London at a restaurant where you dine in the dark. Cutting up your dinner’s bad enough without glasses, let alone with the lights off.
Fascinated by this age debate, I did a straw poll in the street recently, asking people to guess how old I was and if they had ever lied about their age. My mother had never told me her age and it seems a certain reluctance to share still exists. ‘Mother told me never to ask a lady her age,’ said one guy, ‘I don’t lie, I’m economical with the truth, I’m from California,’ said another. A woman cupped her hand and whispered in my ear, ‘I think you’re the same as me.’ One guy came clean, ‘I lied on my dating profile, said I was five years younger then she bought a birthday card for the wrong number and I had to admit it.’
I know it’s confusing, 30-year-olds still living with their mum and dad, more couples getting divorced [and getting STDs] in their 60s than ever before. The old presumptions of age- appropriate behaviour and dress have been thrown up in the air. Thank goodness. As a service to you all, I went to an anti-ageing fair at Olympia recently and amongst the stands advertising injections, lotions and miracle creams was one for Revidox, a Spanish vitamin supplement made from the skin of grapes. So it’s like wine, right? I came home with a packet and a smile and as one of the guys I asked in the street said, ‘You’ve got lots of smile lines so you must have a happy life.’ That’s what matters to me.
Elaine Kingett runs creative writing holidays in Spain and France, for more information check out Write It Down.