Swap your mini dress for a crisp white shirt, and other useless advice on ageing
Hilary Fannin is on the cusp of resentment of youth and yearning for slippers and camomile tea
Victoria Beckham: a woman who was cryogenically frozen mid-pout about 20 years ago and has looked pretty much the same ever since. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images
I was reading edited highlights of an article that Victoria Beckham recently wrote for British Vogue, a piece in the form of a letter penned to her teenage self, offering pearls of wisdom from her current perch on the diamond-crusted swing of her 40s. Actually, I’ve no idea what age Posh is, not that age matters when you’re as thin and rich and wilfully doleful as the former Spice Girl, a woman who was cryogenically frozen mid-pout about 20 years ago and has looked pretty much the same ever since.
Anyway, at one point in the article, older, wiser Vicky advises young and feckless Vicky not to mess with her boobs. “Don’t mess with your boobs!’” she commands, which sounds like something Sr Ignatius might have spat out in the domestic science room when the class were measuring each other’s pubescent chests in preparation for the Inter Cert dressmaking project.
(Or maybe you didn’t spend great swathes of your school life sweating over a reversible waistcoat for which you ended up getting a D and which was so shapeless and ugly that even the cat refused to sleep on it. Maybe you were one of the smart kids who was allowed into the science laboratory to dissect a vole.)
Where was I? “Don’t mess with your boobs!” Victoria implores, and she isn’t talking about a predilection for nipple tassels. As someone capable of passing out over a paper cut, I couldn’t agree with her more. In my opinion, there’s enough pain in the damn world already without shoving bags of silicone into your gaping tits.
“You will learn, as you mature,” Victoria adds, “to swap heels for Stan Smith trainers, mini-dresses for crisp white shirts.’” Having no idea why we are being advised to wear some bloke’s trainers, I look them up. Stan Smith’s trainers are “icons of simplicity”, apparently, and you too can own a pair for under 100 quid, which is reassuring, given that if you fancy carrying one of Victoria’s signature tote bags on your well-toned oxter, it’ll set you back about a grand.
So, as one matures, one “will learn to swap mini-dresses for crisp white shirts”, eh? This was a a revelatory piece of news to me, the missing key to a dignified future.
I was in a cocktail bar the other night. (You’re not dealing with muck here, you know. You think I spend my down time hanging around frozen-food aisles? Think again.) Yes, I was in a cocktail bar drinking something that tasted exactly like Mi-Wadi lemon, although with the riff of gin running through it, you wouldn’t be giving it to your six-year-old. I was wearing a shortish, scratchy, woollen dress that may have been vaguely fashionable circa 1996, and feeling old and fat and hot and really quite itchy.
I was with a woman who works in the entertainment industry who, after much deliberation, ordered a Porn Star and then sent it back. “That doesn’t taste like the last Porn Star I had,” she told the waitress forlornly, a statement in which neither seemed to find any irony whatsoever.
Teetering on the cusp of a deep and abiding resentment of youth and beauty, and, more worryingly, beginning to yearn for slippers with pet names and a cup of camomile tea, I sat up, pulled my stomach in, fanned my burning face with the menu and focused on the paltry few drinkers scattered around the muted bar.
They were men in loafers, mainly, sitting opposite terse young women in slimming knickers who had had a damn good blow-dry. The room felt edgy, not with danger or romance but with a kind of bleak January acrimony. “I never said that was what I wanted,” a young woman hissed at her partner, her eyes glittering with disappointment.
I went to the bathroom, a brassy, pungent empire studded with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, where the young women were having far more fun.
“You look amazing,” they chirped to each other, surveying their acre-long legs and girded stomachs and tossing around hair that looked like it had been spun in a fairy factory. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. Gamely inelegant, alarmingly pink and glistening somewhat around the decolletage, I looked about as cool as I did in Sr Ignatius’s waistcoat.
Note to teenage self: when you find your 50-something self perspiring unprettily in a cocktail bar, borrow a crisp white shirt from a disgruntled bloke in loafers, order another Porn Star and at all costs avoid the mirror.