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Lately, there has been a flurry of activity on one of the social networking sites to which I subscribe.  Such activity has not been about the latest evictee from the Australian jungle; the last to be booted off the British or American version of the X Factor; or even which dainty-toed celebrity has waltzed off Strictly.  No, it is all about my “friends” across the globe, reaching the age which, according to some heralds a new era in life … Fifty is apparently the new thirty.

Now, to someone who is fast approaching the odd number that follows 50, it is comforting to know that many of my family, friends and colleagues are now entering that cuddly comfort zone of advanced middle age.

Since September, my local card shop has done more than a slightly increased turnover in my purchase of birthday cards celebrating that illustrious half century event.  I have enjoyed buying every soppy, elegant and even risqué card, and each (hopefully) having a special meaning to the person who has received it.

It crossed my mind the other day that I ran out of digits to count my decades when I hit forty, and I am guessing that lots of my Thalidomide friends are having the same problem.  But I take heart from the fact that if I use my toes, I have another thirteen decades of blogging to go before I am finally exhausted of things to say!

So where did we baby boomers come from?  Well, if you don’t know that I think you need to redo your school biology course!  Having said that, it began in the late 1950s and there have been a number of suggested causes, with two prominent thoughts. One was increased prosperity, but strangely enough the other was comprehensive contraception. Being able to have babies when a woman wanted, meant that she was free to marry young if she felt like it. And those who married young had babies younger and sometimes went on to have more of them.

The United Kingdom experienced a baby boom during the 1960s, with a peak in births in 1964.  And if you look back in time, there is usually a reason for a baby booming generation.  There is no real consensus regarding the cause of the baby boom: social scientists suggest a complex mixture of economic, social and psychological factors. 

But, in the case of the baby boomers of the early 1960’s it was (as I suspect is usually the case) the weather.  The spring time of 1960 must have been particularly cold, as that would have been about the time that Steve and I were conceived.  All I can say is thank goodness for central heating, one of Steve is more than enough (!) and they broke the mould when they made me (modest as ever!)

1961 saw the UK having a summer much like most British summers, and saw much frivolity at seaside resorts up and down the country.  I am guessing that the colder winter of 1961, as precursor to the terrible snow of early 1962 has much to do with this (now) sudden influx of members to the fifty-something club.

But how do you tell when you are getting old? In a recent article in our daily newspaper, it was suggested that if you hate noisy pubs or groan when you bend down you are getting old. 

So, in the great tradition of poking fun at family members, I thought I would enlighten you as to how my family are progressing on the age stakes.

Here goes:

  • Falling asleep in the front of the TV – From the noise that emanates from my Dad’s nose, I’d say he’s getting old.  Consider the scene … Christmas Eve, and all is still in the house.  All guests have left, and my Dad has decamped to us to make sure Santa doesn’t have too many visits to make in Cardiff.  A glass of whiskey on the table, feet up and slippers on … ZZZZZZZZzzzzz(snort).  Yes, he’s passed the test!!
  • Struggling to use technology – My mother-in-law fits the bill perfectly in this category.  She has a mobile phone which lives in her handbag, inside a bag, inside another bag, and then for good measure, on vibrate.  It has been known, that when travelling by bus, she hears the phone, takes an age to find it at the bottom of her bag, and then promptly hits the wrong button and turns it off, rather that connecting the call.  Don’t even mention voice mail – She thinks this is a singing postman.  A definite yes on the age test!!
  • Losing your hair – I refer to my husband … Say no more.  Most certainly he is getting old!
  • Developing a fondness of sherry or something a little more sophisticated  – Well, that’s me, my sisters and most, if not all, of my friends.  That well worn phrase “a glass of fizz on arrival” is music to our ears.  We are proud to have passed the age test.
  • Thinking doctors, policemen and teachers look really young – I am sure many of you will agree such thinking is a wonderful way of persuading your better half to go to the School Parents’ Evening.  What greater incentive to hear how your little darling is doing than to sit in front of a rather dishy maths teacher … and if you deny this one, you are stuck in a time warp – Get real, we’ve all done it!!
  • Taking a mid afternoon nap – My lovely sister and her husband have already joined the club on this one!!  Sunday in their house just wouldn’t be the same without the man of the house quietly slinking off for a sneaky duvet session after a rather enjoyable lunch.  Come to think of it, maybe I should include the whole of this side of the family in this category … “OMG” old before their time!!
  • Moving from Radio 1 to Radio 2 – Let’s just say the only reason I re-tuned my radio was because of a poor Radio 1 reception.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! 
  • Joining the National Trust – Steve’s sister falls into this category – Not that she’s old, but when her school had an OFSTED inspection last week, she was hoping to do well, and retire with top marks – fortunately no “could do betters” on her report.  Watch out John, the treasures of the National Trust will soon be a permanent feature in your living room!
  • Preferring a brisk walk to a Sunday morning lie-in — I’m not sure whether it’s getting old, or the fact that my youngest sister and her partner, appear to have a knack of adopting dogs – and lots of them!  Either way, a stay-in-bed Sunday morning is a definite no-no.  Dogs at the ready, walking boots on and there you have it.  A good walk is only surpassed by the obligatory dog shower (on returning from the early morning romp in the woods) to complete the picture of middle aged respectability that pervades the most coveted dogs home in Cardiff!
  • Not knowing any songs in the top 10 – Unfortunately, Steve is scoring quite highly in this competition.  Jesse J. was on the TV the other day.  He couldn’t quite understand where the three decades between the spandex of ABBA and the quasi-goth look of Jesse J had gone … Ahh bless him – He’s been a member of this club for far too long!!
  • Joining the Women’s Institute – Perhaps not quite the WI, but ladies of the NSPCC Central Cardiff branch, you know who you are … welcome to the age club!
  • Realising that your music collection is on Vinyl; Cassette; CD and Download – Makes me feel really old. This obviously means that I have four versions of my favourite music! Must make mental note to keep up-to-gate with technology… God help us!

And finally …

  • Choosing clothes for comfort rather than style – We should all be proud to admit to this one.   Lycra this and stretchy that make a wonderful addition to the wardrobe of the fifty-something club member.  If, like me, you’ve given up trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot, you will appreciate the advantages of elastication.  Go on, free yourself from your inhibition, and seize the opportunity of joining this club … Membership is free and the benefits are enormous.  I want to dedicate this last category of ‘membership to the fifty-something club’, to my brother-in-law José, who celebrates his 50th Birthday next week.  His choice and style of clothes (especially on Christmas Day) speaks volumes about his exquisite sartorial elegance! 

I would like to be the first to welcome José and all the other new members of this Club to a time of enlightenment; to the delights of Ibuprofen; to looking forward to retirement and to growing old in quite the most disgraceful manner!!  Relax, enjoy and have fun.

What about this as a final thought … If fifty is the new thirty, then seventy will be the new fifty, and in about twenty years time we’ll have to celebrate our half centuries all over again.  Now, that’s a thought to ponder over our ever expanding girths. 

 “Another glass of fizz for anyone?”