Belfast Telegraph

Feeling fantastic, fit and free, I'm so glad I'm turning 50 today

By Nuala McKeever

I was born this day 50 years ago. Got me thinking what life would've been like if I'd been turning 50, 50 years ago, in 1964. I'd've been born the year the First World War started. As it is, I was born just as The Beatles were coming into their own.

When that other me was 25, the Second World War started. When I was 25 I had just finished university and a postgraduate qualification and was starting looking for work.

Back then I'd most likely have been married already, possibly with one or more children. In my life, marriage was something I thought I'd do "in my late 20s, maybe".

My older self wouldn't have gone to university because it would've been prohibitively expensive. She would most likely have found a job in the civil service or as a shop assistant or even, like my granny, actually set up a shop with her husband. By the time the Second World War was over, she'd've had years of work and motherhood and married life behind her. She'd be quite an age, 31.

I still wasn't married at 31. Still had no children. I was making jokes in a 'gang'.

Back then, if I had had a civil service job I'd've had to give it up when I got married anyway. I'd've had to stay home to look after the children and make sure I had my make-up on nicely for 'him' coming home after work, with a smile on my face, dinner on the table and some gentle questions to show interest in his world, but a woman's intuition to realise when he just wanted to be left to eat his dinner in peace. I'd've known all that.

In my reality I never mastered the art of lipstick until I was in my mid-30s, never met 'him' at the door with dinner on the table (maybe the odd time I might've had a pizza ready for his lap, while watching TV) and never knew when to 'know my place' and treat him like a demi-god.

Oh, and I never managed the children part at all. What a disaster!

Back then, on my 50th, I'd've been well over the hill. Children grown up, I'd most likely be a grandmother, smelling of face powder and with hidden sweeties in my cardigan pockets and a sneaky sixpence to press into the wee ones' hands, saying: "Don't spend it all at once!"

As it is, I'm approaching my prime, fitter than I've ever been, drinking vegetable juices, smelling of Eau d'No Responsibility and pressing sugar-free, homemade chocolates into the hands of passing nephews, saying, "Try this, you'll like it, it's chocolate!"

To which the response has been them nibbling suspiciously, pulling a face as if they'd just been told all five of their sell-out concerts at Croke Park were cancelled, spitting it out with a self-confident, "Nah, don't like it", in that refreshingly honest way of kids nowadays ...

Back then I'd possibly have heard She Loves You or whichever of The Beatles' hits was current in 1964 and said: "That's not music, that's just noise," while retuning the huge static radio to the Light Programme or putting on a Jim Reeves LP.

Whereas today, of course, I am totally hip and with it and down with The Beatles. It's the noise of today I just can't stand. Y'know, anything later than, say, The Smiths?

And today, older me would be 100 or dead. I'm glad I'm me.

Is this any way to live our lives?

Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, N Ireland... we're on this planet such a short time and yet we behave so abominably.

It's as ridiculous as someone coming in the back door of your house and straight out the front but, as they pass through, demanding ownership of the kitchen, smashing all the ornaments in the hall, telling everyone else in the house how to live and hitting out randomly at anyone who happens to be standing there. Crazy!

This world is not ours. We're allowed a tiny time on it. Is this really how we want to choose to spend it?

Make a stand for the future

When you watch the news it's easy to feel there's nothing you can do about anything.

But there are things you can do about some things. Rather than add yourself to the statistics of people in the UK who risk diabetes, you can start walking every day (no, not marching, walking).

And you can write to Peter Brabeck, CEO of Nestle, to tell him you don't agree with his statement that human beings don't have a right to drinking water.

You can't run the world, but you can stand up for love of yourself and the whole human race.

Belfast Telegraph

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