I can no longer pretend to be young. I celebrate my birthday in tacit agreement that no one will be so ill-mannered to enquire as to the particular anniversary, and Mr Trefusis has kindly taught Trefusis Minor to tell everyone that I'm thirty-five. But then, as Oscar Wilde once wrote, 'no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating'.
I've been gazing at my aging navel lately. Time slips through my fingers, yet winds itself around the body. I find I can no longer defy the signs of aging, despite the exortations to do so from the Olay adverts. Some of it is insidious, like the slow contagion of reading glasses amongst my closest friends: our book group has been meeting for more than fifteen years, yet in the last six months, I've noticed that as soon as we start talking about the latest book, seven pairs of spectacles are simultaneously repositioned on noses. Some of it is merely the inevitable triumph of comfort over style: no one my age ever bothers to try and walk anywhere in taxi shoes - we simply adopt a large enough handbag in which to hide the spare flats, and hop back into the heels round the corner from the destination. The list of aging evidence is seemingly endless. Oh, God - everything - modern music is just TOO LOUD, particularly in clothes shops, and I wore all the fashions the first time round. I even found myself looking longingly at a KitchenAid mixer in the John Lewis catalogue - the last time I looked longingly at anything in region of four hundred quid, it was a pair of killingly high raspberry-glacé Louboutins. Actually, I'm not dead yet: they're much nicer than a KitchenAid, and just as inaccessibly priced.
Until shamefully recently, I was rabidly anxious about getting older: I loathed the creeping lines on my face, and my white, skinny, Ancient Mariner hands. I hated myself for both being absurdly perked up by a shout of 'Oy! Darlin'!' from White-Van-Man and for resenting the fact that I was no longer the woman at the party the men wanted to talk to. I felt the missed opportunities of youth too keenly: I longed to get back the time when life was all potential, when it was still a rehearsal. I wanted to smash something when Kazuo Ishiguro said that it dawned on him that most of the literary masterpieces had been written by people under forty. So I pretended to myself that it wasn't happening: I grew my hair defiantly long. I had vats of botox pumped into my forehead. The effects were superficial: I was still the same person inside.
But lately, there has been rather a change. I am, for the first time in my life, genuinely bien dans ma peau.
What happened? Well, on the vanity front, money got tighter and so I gave up Botox. My self-esteem didn't fall the same distance as my brow and it made me ponder a while on the current vogue for a one-size-fits-all ideal of grown-up beauty (yes, Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Kylie Minogue et al, I'm talking about you), particularly after visiting an eminent cosmetic dermatologist for work and hearing about an experimental rejuvenating treatment involving sucking out your own fat, harvesting the stem cells from it and then reinjecting it into your face at a cost of nearly eight thousand pounds. Is it just me, or does that sound really quite horrid? It sent me scuttling into google to look at images of beautiful ancients. Lauren Bacall (above) is no stranger to sun and cigarettes, yet still manages to look rather fabulous. The face I want at seventy is one which reflects the wisdom and character that time has built, rather than the skill of a cosmetic surgeon.
Yet, it's not just about conquering my besetting sin: I think the revolution about the way I feel about myself has had an awful lot to do with the therapeutic qualities of writing this blog (and lovely twitter, to which I'm still addicted). It's not only that it's given me an identity outside the - admittedly lovely - ones I already occupy as wife, mother, career-kind-of-person, but it's also introduced me to the whole glorious world of the internets - the burgeoning blog-roll down the side of Mrs Trefusis is testament to the quantity and quality of fascinating minds out there in the ether.
And most of all, I hear the words of Virginia Woolf echo in my head - 'One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.' - and feel reconciled and content.