Oh dear. I have a brand new problem. I have Diet Face.
In case you’re the sort of person who worries about real issues, let me recap. Woman’s Hour’s Jenni Murray has stated that at the age of 69 she is putting the brakes on losing weight as she doesn’t want to end up with the face of Nigel Lawson: ie, a Viennetta left too long beside a two-bar fire.
I’ve spent my life on a diet. Until now, I’ve escaped Diet Face, given I’ve had quite a bit of filler, which stretches it all out a bit, so my face is like a balloon. A few twists and turns, I could be a giraffe.
But this morning I was slathering on moisturiser (Chantecaille), when I noticed my cheekbones felt pronounced. ‘Oooh,’ I thought. ‘Perhaps I’m Dame Margot Fonteyn, not Dame Jenni Murray at all. That’s not so bad.’ Then I did what I should never do. I looked in the mirror. And it turns out the reason my cheekbones feel pronounced is because my eyes have disappeared into their sockets. Perhaps my brain has lost weight.
But I’ve been thinking. Why do we spend our lives worrying? Why, after surviving adult acne, do we then have to face the menopause: whiskery chin, papery skin followed by, presumably, loneliness and, finally, losing our minds? And so I’m wondering: is all this doom and gloom at every stage of our lives propaganda to make us miserable, so we buy more stuff?
Jackie magazine fed off the fact that teenage girls believe they will never get a boyfriend. Company magazine: you will never get a job. Cosmopolitan: you will never have an orgasm. Vogue: you will never look like this or be able to afford this. I imagine Mumsnet (I doubt I’m allowed to join given my womb, like my Le Creuset, is unused) is stuffed full of mums worried their children hate them and their husbands will leave them. Wasting our lives worrying doesn’t just happen to women, either: look at Prince Harry, growing up grieving and unhappy when he should be the happiest man in the world.
Anyway, last night I had a drink with a (fairly new) girlfriend. She is tall and beautiful. She showed me photos on her phone of her recent holiday with her husband. ‘Oh my God!’ I said. ‘He’s so handsome!’
‘He is. And he’s so nice. He’s helpful in the kitchen. He’s not possessive, he lets me do my own thing. He’s not competitive with my career. He’s older than me.’
There must be something wrong with him. ‘Well, if I ask him to do something, he will do it, but he doesn’t have any initiative.’
No initiative? What a complete and utter b******!
My friend has an amazing attitude to life. She’s always out shopping, sending me pictures of things she loves. She’s always going to different cities on mini-breaks. She never worries about work. She tells me she gets it done, then lies on the sofa and watches a box set. Like me, she has fallen out with a selfish relative. But, unlike me, she DOES NOT CARE.
We are only starting out on our friendship, so I did not know this about her until last night. Which is when she told me. She had breast cancer. She was so unwell, she even got permission to marry her boyfriend with only a couple of days’ notice: not a shotgun wedding, but a deathbed wedding.
You see, if I were her, I would have: a) Not wanted my boyfriend to see me ill, without make-up. b) Been too terrified to contemplate a future. c) Been unable to experience even a moment of joy.
Often, when you have a drink with a friend you bitch about men, work, the builders, other friends. You leave wanting to stab someone. But I left our drinks feeling completely different, and ashamed. I know what I’ve been through isn’t nothing (divorce, having my childbearing years ripped from my brown-spotted claws by a serial cheater, yada yada yada). But I also know I’m lucky. Anything could happen tomorrow. Let’s just enjoy today. All of which means I’m browsing what I’ll wear to my wedding, given last time I saw David he talked about rings. An ivory trench by Varana with zero carbon footprint? A frilly sack dress hot off Victoria Beckham’s catwalk? Hang on, no, it’s plunging. It will reveal my breast surgery scars. What was I thinking? Surgery on my perfectly healthy breasts! I must have been mad.