It’s quite lucky, really, that I no longer have a boyfriend. Because, as I discovered this morning to my shock, I have grown a full beard. I resemble Tintin’s Captain Haddock.
That’s the problem with summer, you see. Suddenly, given all the blasted sunshine, you spot things that have lain dormant all winter, like crocuses. Bloody global warming. Sod polar bears: there are now more days in the year when we are expected to go out with legs exposed, cellulite on bare arms suddenly forming deep craters, bingo wings flapping in the breeze.
I’ve always battled with superfluous hair, but I had started (a little foolhardily, as it turns out) to believe that my follicles, like my libido, would give up the ghost after a certain age. My eyebrow hair, plucked to an anorexic Biba arch in the 70s, has certainly gone to rent a deckchair in Eastbourne, so why is my beard so tenacious? And jet black, and shiny, and as strong as a small oak, when the hair on my head, were it allowed to roam free range, is silver?
This is the problem, too, with having had laser eye surgery, which means I have 20/20 vision at a time when things should all be a delicious, deluded blur. I am reminded of a lovely quote from Jennifer Saunders, speaking to Vogue: ‘I was going to a costume fitting and my friend said, “Have you shaved your legs?” I replied, “I think I have.” As you get older, you look at your legs, and they look absolutely smooth… until you put your glasses on! Then you realise you’re just sheepskin.’
I am also, rather belatedly, beginning to realise the benefits of women having children. Offspring must act as a distraction, surely. Rather than spend hours examining your face in a magnifying mirror, and realising you have only nail polish and flat water in your fridge, and nothing to do all day except perhaps get your teeth cleaned (that’s another thing, gums: mine have gone south and now live in a villa on the Costa del Sol), there would be a giant teen to shout at and clear up after and worry about and cook for.
Like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, I don’t use my kitchen. When Gordon Ramsay once came to my house in Hackney to teach me how to make fresh pasta, he laughed at the fact the price sticker was still on the bottom of the saucepan, and asked me, incredulous, why my cat Snoopy was sitting on the breadboard. ‘It’s so he has a better view,’ was my reply.
If I had squeezed out a couple of teenagers, there would be a point to ife, perhaps, a compensation for having a ruined body, whereas my womb, just like my Le Creuset, has never been used. There is no leggy, teen version of me wandering around glued to their phone whom I could point at and say, ‘There’s one I made earlier. I used to look like that. There is a point to me, you know.’
Anyway, on Wednesday evening I went to a screening in Soho of Gloria Bell, a new film that I’d been promised explores the issue of ‘women who date after the age of 50’. ‘It’s right up your street,’ the publicist emailed me. Cheeky b******.
Problem is, it stars Julianne Moore, who would doubtless have no difficulty getting a man even when she is over 90, bedridden and drooling; they’ve tried to make her look plain by giving her spectacles. Doesn’t work. I was so bored, I surreptitiously scrolled through my phone, and saw a photo of my collie Mini Puppy sent to me by my assistant Nic as she knew I’d be missing her while in London. I clicked on it, and as if by magic Mini started to wag and do her happy Spotty Dog from The Woodentops (now that’s aged me, as surely as the Captain Haddock beard) groan. Eurgeh whaha gggrr.
I sent it to my ex David. ‘If you press the photo, she wags her tail.’ He replied with an attachment: ‘This is me in 1971, third from the right, at art college.’
And there he was, in double denim with hair flowing past his narrow shoulders, a full, girlish mouth.
‘Why are you not wearing a tank top?’ I asked him crossly.
‘I always hated them.’
‘And your tail doesn’t wag when I press it,’ I typed.