Belfast Telegraph

You know you're getting old when....

By Frances Burscough

I had a fab night last week. A proper girlie sleepover with my best friend, including wine, chocolates, a movie and more belly laughs than a night at the Empire Comedy Club. I’ve told you about Claire before. The most remarkable fact being where and how we met. It was in church, of all places. Yes, it was that long ago.

We both had babies the same age and so had taken refuge in the chapel crèche when they started crying. It was supposed to be a place of silent reflection, but we started chatting, whilst both breastfeeding our wee ones to keep them quiet. I’d just moved to Northern Ireland from England and so had she. I’d just had a first born son and so had she. I’d just turned 30 and so had she. We were made for each other.

And thus, within the length of one Sunday Mass, I’d found my bosom buddy. Literally.

That was more than two decades ago. Our tiny babes in arms are now both university graduates with promising futures ahead of them. Our lives have changed in so many ways and gone along completely different paths. Sometimes we don’t see each other for months, but whenever we do see each other it’s like we’re just continuing a conversation that started a few minutes ago as we slot into each other’s frame of mind so seamlessly.

One topic that really stood out during last week’s get-together was about ageing. After all, we’re no longer spring chickens. I won’t tell you her age, because she’s ever so slightly sensitive about it, but let’s just say that our combined ages are 102.

We started to compare notes, to compete with each other jokingly about succumbing to middle age and who was the worst example.

“You know you’re getting old, when you are invited — and happily accept — an invitation to give a presentation to the Women’s Institute!” Claire said, as her opening gambit.

I couldn’t believe it. I had been invited to do exactly the same thing just last week. In my case, an auntie in England who is a leading light in the W.I. had approached me about giving a demo of my wildlife art work to a group in Lancashire. And I’d gladly accepted.

 So that settles it. We’re both officially past it.  

That was the first big belly laugh of the evening. The rest came thick and fast.

“You know when you’re over 50 when you start wearing high-compression support hosiery to cover your varicose veins!” she shouted from the bedroom as she was getting changed.

“And enormous elasticated knickers that go up to your armpits to squash your love handles into submission!” I shouted back.

Then later in the kitchen: “You know you’re getting on a bit when the first thing you do when you go into the house is reach for the tea pot!” she said, reaching for the tea pot.

“Speak for yourself!” I managed to reply while nearly spitting my wine out with laughter. I had got there a few minutes earlier and was already on my second glass of prosecco. (Lidl’s finest. Less than a fiver a bottle, because we’re worth it!)

“You know when you’re getting old when you read the Betterware catalogue from cover to cover AND you fold down the corner of loads of pages!” I said, reaching for the Betterware catalogue.

“You know  you’re over the hill when you have a rain hood, a miniature sewing kit and a travel-sized jar of Vaseline in your handbag!” was Claire’s next challenge, to which I instantly retorted, “And all the money-off coupons you’ve cut out from the newspaper!”

“Incidentally, the Tele has a coupon for a fiver off in Lidl this Saturday! That’ll be the weekend’s wine sorted then!” I said sagely as I poured my third glass.

“Ooooh, good tip! She who does not stoop for a penny will never be worth a pound!” she replied, sounding just like her mother.

“Oh my god , I’m starting to sound just like my mother!” she added after a pause.

“You know when you’re getting old, when you start sounding just like your mother!” we said  in unison, accompanied by the mother of all belly laughs.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph