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It’s moving toward the end of January, and 2011 appears to be shaping up to be the year of ageism.  Everything we see or read seems to be age obsessed.  

That great British institution, otherwise known as the BBC, fell foul of an ageism judgement as a result of a truly justified discrimination claim by former TV presenter Miriam O’Reilly.  What appeared to follow was a plethora of programmes fronted by well-respected female presenters of the septuagenarian kind. 

During the same week that the “Beeb” appeared to be back-pedalling big time on ageism, I joined Steve and James for breakfast.   It doesn’t happen very often, but as an honorary member of the Moriarty-Simmonds breakfast club, I observed the glamour effect first hand.  Our BBC regional morning news bulletins are fronted by a number of female presenters, but I caught the two men in my life ogling over a particular female presenter.  They say everyone has a double, and I am hers.  We both have blue eyes, dark hair and got married in the same church.  That, however, is where the similarity ends.  I am probably old enough to be her mother; she is tall and slim; and then there is the small matter of a full complement of fingers and toes.  I shall take this discussion no further; for fear of her receiving a ribbing from some of her BBC Wales news colleagues who I know occasionally read this blog!

Then, later in the day, I read no less than three articles based on age, in our daily newspaper.

It started with an article telling me that those of us of who have now entered their 50’s are entering the age of ‘true happiness’.  Turn over, and what did I see, the fabulous Elle MacPherson looking gorgeous at 47 – and in fact probably even better than she looked when she was 22 – if the comparison photographs are anything to go by.  On reaching the “female” section of the newspaper, I read a very interesting article espousing the virtue of 50 as being more about ‘firmness of character than the firmness of the flesh’! 

The article finished by concluding that although you grow into middle age, and it can be quite rewarding, a sensible pair of shoes and a good concealer does make that transition easier to bear.

Now as you will appreciate, a sensible pair of shoes is of absolutely no use to me, but yes, I can testify to the benefits of a “Macs-Factor” or “Polyfillor” foundation that blends with my own tones and blemishes!

Looking back at the photograph of Elle MacPherson it is clear that she does not subscribe to the sensible shoes philosophy.  Killer heels were the order of the day.  However, the shapely pins aside, the give-away age signs were visible on the hands.  Personal trainers charging astronomical daily rates, and hairdressers twiddling tresses for more than the average food bill, can do nothing to defy the age process on the hands.

I’m really not one to boast, but I have to say there is one major advantage to having four tiny fingers, and that is my hands have defied age.  I am proud to say that my hands have remained as smooth as the day I was born, and not a drop of anti-wrinkle washing up liquid has graced the skin.  On further inspection, I also have feet to die for.  Set aside the small matter of thirteen toes and you have catwalk feet … Dainty, delicate and lily-white.

So with wrinkle free hands and feet without a bunion in sight, why aren’t the model agencies clamouring for my services?  I guess it might well have something to do with what’s in between the fingers and toes.   

I feel a discrimination claim based on Sizeism looming on the horizon. 

Should I lay bare my vital statistics in support of the fuller figure, or should I just spare the world of the prospect of a middle-aged Mum (with the trademark of four fingers and thirteen toes) vying for a page three feature in a tabloid newspaper.

I know that James and Steve would be delighted if I chose the latter option.  As James eloquently pointed out, he was not sure if there would be enough column inches on page three to accommodate my photograph – Now there’s a vote of confidence for you!

I am pleased to tell you that Steve and James will be spared the prospect of me bearing all and, at least for the time being, their mornings will remain safely in the hands of my regional news-reading double. 

However, like all good middle aged women who have aspirations of a future in the media, I shall continue my radio work.  From the darkest depths of the Gwent valleys, that see more than its fair share of rain, I shall be an ABLE woman.  I shall champion the cause of the fuller middle aged woman during my air time.  After all, quality and quantity can go hand in hand.

Who knows, if the fear of this ageism culture continues, I could well be the next BBC Radio One Rock Chick … Now that really would give James something to worry about. 

So, to my lovely son who says I have the perfect face for radio, I say, “Turn off the I-Player, stop listening to Fern Cotton and get on with some homework !!!”