I don't know why people worry about ageing, I really don't.
There are so many advantages before you even get to the free bus
passes and carte blanche to spend your day watching Channel 4
racing instead of going out to work.
At only 44 I'm already enjoying benefits such as added
hindsight, experience, confidence and not giving a flying f*ck
about most things any more. It's brilliant, and if the trade-off is
a slight turkey neck and varicose veins, you know what? I don't
care. Wrinkles - whatever. I can handle myself.
But I'm almost forgetting the best benefit of the lot! Who knew
about the free cloak of invisibility? Yes, it's true. Somewhere
between the ages of about 35 and 45 every woman gets one of these.
There's no big ceremony, it just sort of arrives and you'll
gradually become aware that it's doing its stuff.
It may not work all the time to begin with but I'm reliably
informed that its power increases over the years so that by the
time you're 75 or so you are almost completely invisible to most
people in most circumstances. Obviously this can be annoying to the
point of dangerous and you'll have to watch out for yourself on
busy pavements and in scrambles for public services etc. But the
upsides are fantastic - think of the potential for crime, for
example. There's a reason no octogenarian women were involved in
the recent lootings of Tottenham, Brixton and Enfield. They can
just get on with it quietly during normal opening hours. (Of course
they're not stupid and you won't see them parading around draped in
yards of bling and new Jimmy Choos; that's the experience bit, you
I first noticed my own cloak a few years ago when I suddenly
realised that I'd spent an entire summer walking back and forth
through my own neighborhood without exciting a single incident of
sexual harassment. Nobody had commented on my legs, breasts, bottom
or vagina. Nobody had followed me along the street emitting weird
little hisses in a bid to get my attention. Nobody had slowed their
car to mention the way my jeans emphasized my "shape". No male
person of any age, from the daring schoolkids (and I'm talking
primary school here), who used to shout "Oi, sexy" in the park, to
the old chaps who used to make quite surprisingly disgusting
comments when in their cups, had said a single thing for months.
Gradually the ever-present background hubbub of lewd, belittling
and insulting commentary had dwindled to the occasional squeak.
But although it's marvellous to be able to walk right through
the middle of a crowd of men as if I didn't exist, there's a
downside. Young women can't seem to see me either.
I notice this particularly in places like Topshop, where I
habitually pause to let other shoppers pass through tight spaces,
smiling politely as I wait, only to be barged past without a
glance, let alone a smile or a thank you. I have actually stepped
off pavements into the gutter to make way for these mannerless
misses. Once I stepped off a narrow but otherwise empty path into
knee-deep undergrowth to allow a lone teenage girl to proceed
unhampered, only to be completely ignored. I tell you, there's
nothing more likely to transform my fuzzy good-feelings associated
with making a polite gesture towards a stranger into simmering vat
What do they think, these rude little princesses? That it's my
role in life to ease their progress?
Oh, but I forgot. I'm invisible.