I recall a celebrity of a certain age once recounting how, suddenly one day, she became aware of a weird rasping whisper that seemed to be following her around her kitchen.
To her horror, on looking down, she realised the sound was coming from her slippers, as she moved across the tiles.
It was the day she began accepting she had turned into a shuffler and, in her own mind therefore, an old woman.
I sympathise. In my mind, I’ve officially reached the milestone ‘elderly’ this year, or at least what my younger self might have considered old – sometimes euphemistically referred to as ‘older’, these days.
To celebrate/commiserate, I bought one of those long, covers-everything Victorian-style nightdresses.
It is not easy getting older – ‘It’s not for the faint-hearted,’ as my 93-year-old mum often reminds me.
I always thought the key would be to carry on regardless. But tripping over in the garden a couple of times in the past year was a wake-up call. As the begonias approached at startling speed, I realised I couldn’t just keep moving like an express train.
I now sit to put shoes on; make involuntary grunting noises getting out of bed; and take time-outs during Pilates.
Getting older, things happen that they didn’t tell you about in the grandchild-on-knee, fancy-a-boiled-sweetie? world of telly ads. No one told me I would receive a pack every three years inviting me to rub my poo on a card, as part of bowel-health screening.
Having a smear test is embarrassing enough, but then comes the equally awkward moment when the nurse asks kindly whether she needs to keep you on their list.
You do get to go for breast screening, which is great, but for me that’s nonetheless another uncomfortable moment conducted in a converted caravan in a library car park.
I run a business and the pandemic hit my earning power hard, for a time. Thankfully that’s improved, and I’m nicely busy.
But when I’m not I feel my energy draining, something connecting to the gloomy news headlines. I’m choosing my clients with care, to stay engaged and energised. But saying no, now and then, is not giving up.
I don’t have any answers, really. If getting older means anything, it means you’re old enough to find some of your own solutions.
So, when I see my older face in the mirror, I give her a big smile – she deserves it; I wear the clothes usually kept for best whenever I choose, and laugh likewise; I always make time for nature.
And if any of that helps you keep the whispering slipper of old age at bay, you’re welcome.