Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Elixir of Youth For the Embittered Old Crone in the Corner Please

I got asked for ID in Waitrose the other day.  This is possibly the most exciting thing that's happened to me in....oh....forever.  Apart from the discovery that Mr Bloom off CBeebies was on the same acting degree course as me in the year below me at Bretton Hall.  Now there's a thrill that's hard to beat.

Back to Waitrose and the ID incident.  I'd nipped into town to pick up salad and a bottle of Pinot Grigio and at the checkout I was blessed with a cashier who clearly should have gone to Specsavers.

"Can I have some ID dear?" she asked.


The joy of handing over my provisional drivers licence to prove that I am, in fact, THIRTY THREE YEARS OF AGE.  Although I doubt she actually needed to look at my date of birth after I'd scrabbled through my bag in search of it, removing tissues, toy cars, sticklebricks, handfuls of acorns and conkers and a lump of playdough and plonking them on the conveyer belt.  Nothing says "MOTHER" like a lump of playdough in your handbag.

I practically skipped home from the shops, convinced, in my head, that I could still pass for 17.  Well, 21.  Or is it 24?  I've lost track.  In my day, you were only asked for ID if you looked under 18 but there's all sorts of complex guidelines about how old you need to look now.  OK, worst case scenario is that I passed for 23.  That's ten whole years younger, which is a bit of a result. I must look like the sort of person who knows how to use an iPhone!  Or who understands how digital TV works!  This is brilliant!  More importantly, nobody has asked me for ID since I began to look visibly pregnant with Rory.  Before that it was fairly standard to be asked, but as soon as a bump appeared,  I seemed to age several years in the eyes of shop assistants.  I took to sidling up to the queue with my bottle of wine, trying to look as shifty and knocked-up-teen-crackwhore-esque as I possibly could, but nobody was buying it.  And as soon as you've got a baby in a pushchair with you, you're dismissed as a sad old mummy who needs her weekly gin fix.  Wish I'd thought of this when I was in 6th form.  Taking a toddler or two along to the off licence might have resulted in a greater hit rate of getting served.

I try to convince myself that I haven't aged much, and to be fair I have been lucky.  I don't really have wrinkles, which I put entirely down to not smoking in my youth.  I'm still thin. Ish.  Although I may not be for much longer if I continue to do a half hourly cruise of the kitchen cupboards when I'm supposed to be writing.  Nothing's sagging particularly noticably.  I even got away without wearing a bra the other day until Rory took it upon himself to yank on the tie of my halter neck dress and I had to act promptly and imaginatively with a bottle of water and a pack of Dairylea Dunkers to avoid flashing the 32Fs at the other occupants of the park. And the pregnancy fairy decided that in exchange for retching my way through 9 months, losing all the feeling in my hands, an excruciating, complicated, drawn out labour and bleeding like a stuck pig all over the delivery room floor, I could forgo the stretch marks, so on paper I'm almost a spring chicken.  I have a lot of grey hair, which I ferociously dye every month, but that's not so bad is it?

Or is it?  The truth is, you can convince yourself that you still look young until you come across actual young people.  Then you want to hide yourself away in your troll hole for the rest of your days, weeping at the unfairness of it all.  18 year old girls look absolutely nothing like 33 year old women.  They are ridiculously slim and supple, with peachy, flawless skin.  They have actual gaps between their thighs.  They wear clothes that I don't understand. (Those MC Hammer trousers; the ones that my husband delightfully refers to as 'shit catchers'.  Just...why?)  And then I found an old photo of myself in my first year of uni, and there I was, all glowy and effortlessly slender with bright eyes and glossy hair.  There's nothing like a non sleeping infant to crap all over your bright eyes and glossy hair.  Thanks son.

I had a shocker of a thought the other day:  Rory is actually closer to the age of 16 than I am.  It barely feels like any time has gone by since I was that age and kissing boys up against walls at parties as my dad pulled up in his Peugot estate to pick me up; windows down, Classic FM blaring, shovelling shame upon shame on my teenage self.  Before I know it, my treasured little boy who calls me his "best friend in wide world" and loves to snuggle up with me on the sofa and give me kisses and cuddles will be the teenage boy at the party getting off with some vapid little tart like 16 year old me.  I want to rip her (hypothetical) eyes out for corrupting my precious boy already, and she's only two years old at the moment.  There she'll be in her tiny little dress, displaying her long teenage legs, and there I'll be in a sensible car, wearing a beige anorak, honking the horn and shouting "Put her down Rory, you don't know where she's been."  I'm half way there already; our family car is a Honda Jazz and I really really like Classic FM.

I wonder how much longer I'll need to carry ID about with me.  It can't be long before I'm consigned to the dustbin of "middle aged" in the eyes of the  cashiers of Waitrose.  If they ever ask me for it again, I might save myself the time and humiliation of rummaging through my overflowing bag, drop my trousers and show them my backside, because there's no way in the fiery bowels of hell that my bum could pass for 17 years old these days.


  1. Hey you, I'm heading for 43 at a frightening speed but I ain't in no dustbin, lady! Other than that, oh yes indeed. Going to Keele and seeing actual real live 'young people' does not do much for the old ego. I try to adopt a wistful smile of 'oh I have been there and then some' - they just think I'm slightly unhinged. Ho hum. Almost ten, time for a nice cup of tea yet?

  2. I got asked for ID in Waitrose when Pip was about six months old, and it cheered me up considerably. However, it has to be mentioned that I was buying ridiculously overpriced, 2% alcohol ginger beer at the time. And honestly, what self-respecting 17 year old is going to waste their money on that when they can buy a litre of cheapo vodka from the offie across the road for the same price?

  3. I was last asked for ID aged 31, when 7 months pregnant with Benedict. I was in Tesco buying 4 bottles of real ale - with Jeff (who is 11 years my senior so must have looked like my sugar daddy or actual father!). Still, it made me feel good.

  4. Hi! I have just stumbled upon your blog and am now a follower.

    I have loved catching up with your posts - the one about the LUFC pants made me laugh till I cried!!!! Im a teacher (but with post 16 students) so could really appreciate all the jolly japes the kids got up to!


  5. I aspire to be the embarrassing parental unit that our dads really did well. Did I read the words provisional driving license? ???

  6. Don't get too excited. I got the prov licence about 5 years ago because the local shop where I lived wouldn't let me buy alcohol without ID, and on Halloween that year, I went in there to buy eggs and flour in order to BAKE A CAKE and they refused to let me buy it as under 16s weren't allowed to buy any flour or eggs that week in case they used them for Halloween shenanigans. Seriously.

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