When you get to the grand old age of 40, your outlook on life starts to change somewhat.
The mid-life crisis is a concept that is usually associated with men.
Men are afforded a certain amount of leeway when it comes to rash decisions made after they hit the age of 40. After the hangover from the inevitable blowout has faded, they’ll find themselves taking stock of their lives and then they’ll start second guessing the decisions that they have made. Usually the biggest regret that crops up will be the idea of ‘not achieving enough’. Regardless of how much money they’ve accrued or how much they have done in their life, a man turning 40 will still find a way of doubting what they have done.
There a few courses of action that a man will look to when in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Much like a flighty teenager heading into university, a man will attempt to drastically reinvent their personality in a bid to outwardly exhibit some form of change, therefore proving that the has made some sort of personal progress in their adult life. The classic example is, of course, the ‘Biker Dad’ persona. Yearning to become the ‘cool guy’ that they had imagined they would be when they were a teenager, the Dad will be permitted to buy a leather jacket, a motor bike and perhaps even grow a moustache…to disastrous effect.
Regardless of how a midlife crisis is triggered, the question remains why?
Why this age? Why not 30 or 35? Perceptions on age have been slowly changing over the past few decades. You would have heard the saying ’40 is the new 30′ before, but does this change of cultural perception affect the individual’s opinion of their own age? I would argue not.
There may be dozens of empowered 40-somethings that you might see start their own Fashion Labels, or Hollywood types extending their own shelf-life by playing younger characters, the truth is that these landmarks still hit home hard, especially when you’re a Mum of three whose kids have all left home.
Women are not afforded the same luxury as men in terms of what they can get away with this age, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have similar urges.
When the last of my kids left home for University, the usually tumultuous house was finally silent and the quietness suffocated me. My husband, Nigel, is a travelling salesman and only returns from work on Friday evenings for the weekend. This meant that I now had practically the whole house to myself and a whole load of free time to go along with it. Instead of feeling liberated by this new change in lifestyle, like so many of my other friends, I felt sheer panic.
With the house needing much less looking after (I was essentially living alone for 5 days out of 7), I was left with endless possibilities of how to fill my time, but very few ideas that were actually viable. Little did I know that I was entering my very own midlife crisis. Desperately lonely during the barren weekdays, I considered moving from England to Spain. Buying a villa in Catalonia, I could spend the English winters in the warm glow of the Spanish sun, then return to Blighty once the sun had returned to our shores. After considering Nige’s commitment to his job, that idea soon went out the window.
The next idea was my very own bakery.
I’d always loved baking for the kids – designing their Birthday cakes from scratch and throwing my hat in whenever Bake Sales cropped up during term-time. Before Nige could stop me, I was baking dozens of cupcakes at a time, experimenting with different recipes and staying up at odd hours of the night. I was on the verge of looking at premises, taking a wander through town and I passed a shop that looked eerily familiar. The bakery had a bright modern look, covered in fun designs and the cakes looked fantastic. That’s where the fun ended though. Behind the counter was a bored looking teenager, staring vacantly into the distance and next to her was a manic looking woman in her forties, smiling eagerly at me. That’s when I noticed the sheer mass of stock that they had at their disposal and the lack of customers inside. I smiled weakly then hurried on by, visions of bankruptcy and failure dogging my footsteps.
So, Spain was out and the Bakery dream had burned to the ground before the ribbon had even been cut. Soon, I was back to morosely pacing the house, looking for things to clean and considering how many cats I would need to buy in order to alleviate my sadness.
Salvation came in the form of an article in the Telegraph. As I was sipping on my second Vanilla Latte of the day (I’d taken to spending the days in my local Starbucks, spending a fortune on cake and ogling young baristas), I stumbled upon an article from a few years ago interviewing a woman of 49, nearly a decade older than me, who had had children late in life and even had time to write a popular blog alongside the pregnancy.
I almost choked on my Double Chocolate Muffin.
I know that its not healthy to endlessly compare yourself to others, but there really was no other way around it. Ellie Stoneley had single-handedly bossed Motherhood, building her own website, feeding her own bump and working at the same time!
That’s when I knew that I’d found my project, I would start a blog that encapsulated my journey from Mother to…well I’m not sure what the destination is, but I’ll get there one day.…
We’ve been having an argument for years in this country about Heathrow and whether to expand it and how to expand it and blah blah blah. But some people think that the solution to these problems lies far away from Heathrow entirely. Where you ask? Where is this magical place? What is this magical solution? What is magic? Is it real? Is it the magic involved in how we connect with others and can fall in love and feel sparks and stuff? Is ‘magic’ just another word for what we now call science? Is it a thing those people do? You know, the ones who do magic proper and professionally, can’t remember what they are called. I’m such a dumb dumb! Any whoo, I’m talking about whagwan with the London City Airport! Having an airport in the city has many advantages, for instance, parking at LCY (London City Airport) is phenomenally easy as it is a smaller place.
And more city based airports means less emissions in the shepherding thousands of passengers every day from airports to the city they actually wanted to go to! It’s a win, win, win situation! SO why isn’t it happening?
Well I think it’s because some fat cats have some vested interests in it not happening and that just makes me so mad I could come out with my fists wrapped in metal chains and punch them in the gob! But I wont, I’ll keep cool, and I’ll figure it out. I’ll count to ten, and I’ll focus, and I’ll figure it out, That’s what I’ve learnt to do, that’s what I know I can do, that’s what I’ll do. For now, for then, for me, for you, for us, forever.
There are so many points of contention around the political spectrum at this current point in current time they seem to be particularly present, particularly violent, and particularly extreme. It seems to me that large swathes of the population feel completely alienated from the political establishment, a lot of people feel (and they are probably right to feel like this) that those in the political establishment have become completely disconnected from what is supposed to be there role, who they are supposed to represent, why they are there in the first place. They have become so immersed in the push and pull of their world that they are now off it, just another cog in the endless sludging of power and hegemony.
H Clinton and other banking/political elites breaking ground on the new Goldman Sachs building in 2005
They’re right. These people are very, very much completely disconnected from everything. They’re not making the world a better place. They’re not doing anything.
So: To whom do we turn?
Does mass media and global communication bring us closer together? Does it tend to turn our eyes toward interesting and surprising places? Does it really expand our horizons? It’s really difficult to say. I fear that whilst it means we are all there looking, there is not a desperate diversity in what we are looking at. The eyes of the world point in only a few directions. There is a short list of that which is being looked at and a long list of those doing the looking. We look at America, at New York, we look at Rihanna, we look at Facebook, we look at the rich and the famous, we look at London, we look at Syria. But do our eyes turn to places that we would not turn without the internet? Not on a mass scale. Not really. They don’t often turn to Warrington…
But it’s an interesting place. 20 miles East of Liverpool and 16 miles West of Manchester, it nestles between these two beasts of the North and quietly goes about its business in relative peace. Originally settled by the Romans, as it was a vital crossing point on the river Mersey and then resettled by the Saxons, Warrington became an important market town due to its location at the lowest bridging point of the River Mersey. It is due to this period of boom that Warrington developed its own style of textile and tool production, a tradition which stretches forward to this day. Warrington was the host to the countries first Ikea. Warrington hosts one of the countries most extravagant swing bridges:
Warrington was the first place to field a candidate from the Social Democrat party. The first MMR vaccine ever to be administered in the whole country was administered in Warrington. And then there’s the Orangeries. In Warrington Orangeries are, for some reason, a super big deal. A super big deal. They’re everywhere and they are quite excessive. The array of Orangeries in Warrington is really something. It’ll blow your mind right of its head place. Go check them out RIGHT NOW.…
‘What’s under foot Legolas?’
‘Why, I barely feel anything…’
‘Indeed you wouldn’t, we are walking on air old friend’
‘How can that be?’
‘Well if you forget where you’re walking Legolas, anything can happen…’
What’s under your feet, old friend? Is it mud and dirt? Is it a thick rich carpet? Are your toes tickled by fur? IS it flat and hard? Is it rough and difficult? Do your feet sink into a softness? Is it wood? Is it rock? What is it? Well for me it is now wood, fine pure and beautiful wood. Under every step. I take my shoes of and my socks off and I walk across the cool wood floor underneath my feet and I groan with pleasure. I moan and groan and shiver with pleasure. I just really, really love it.
There is something very nice and lovely about bare feet on a wooden floor. I like how it’s cool and refreshing and relaxing. Like the other side of the pillow on a Sunday morning.
Bare feet on a fresh oak floor,
Sit tight and see us,
New life breathed into old wood,
held strong by time and wise hands,
Laid flat and steady,
Trusty wood, Strong wood,
Under bare feet.…
Like many mothers out there, whose sprogs have up sticks and left home, I worry about their financial situation.
I think back to the time when I left home and how difficult I initially found it to budget and control my finances. However, my three kids (Tom, 31, June, 24 and Elspeth, 22) have got a economical issue bigger and heavier to contend with.
‘When the kids came along a few months later, me and the hubby were ready.’
When I left my childhood home of Little Totham to make the big move to Goldhanger at the young age of 21, I knew how much money I had and how much money I was going to make in the future.
I’d been diligently saving since I left school at 16, working at an estate agents during the week and picking up shifts at my local pub during the weekend. When I left Mum and Dad to move in with Nigel, after our wedding, I had quite the nest egg saved up! When the kids came along a few months later, me and the hubby were ready. Whilst I stayed at home to raise little Tom, Nige went on the road as a salesman, he struggled to get consistent sales, but I always knew he was trying his best. And at least we had my savings to fall back on and no real debts, (Nige never liked us to spend beyond our means, his thriftiness was one of the reasons why I loved him so much) unlike my unlucky kids!
‘I was overcome with fear that all my kids should forever be trying to pay off their tuition fees’
All three of mine, bright sparks that they are, went off to University.
I was the proudest Mother in Essex when Tom made it into Birmingham Uni, even though I knew it was a long way away and we wouldn’t be able to support him all the way. This was in 1985, so he didn’t have to pay any tuition fees, but he did have to take some money out to support himself. June spent 5 years on becoming a doctor in London, I was SO proud of her when she graduated, sadly our Nigel wasn’t there to see it. But after all the training she decided to go back to Uni and study History. 8 years of full time study had left her in debt, with me barely being able to support myself and little Elspeth, let alone her and Tom. So, when it came time for my baby Elspeth to fly the coop and travel to Cardiff for her Graphics Design course, I was overcome with fear that all my kids should forever be trying to pay off their tuition fees AND maintenance loans.
‘I sent them little care packages with notes hidden inside them: I told them that I loved them.’
I’m going to tell you know what I did to help my kids out of their financial problems…nothing.
I did nothing! I could do – nothing! Our job as Mum’s is to love, cherish and support our children from the time they pop out until we pop our clogs. But we can’t well do this, as well as pay off their debts and have time for ourselves at the same time, now can we?! That’s why, whenever I panicked over Tom’s redundancy, or found a reminder letter for Elspeth’s water bill I did all I could do. I rang them, I sent them little care packages with notes hidden inside them: I told them that I loved them. I trust that me and Nigel did the best we could do raising them, and that they’ll find their own way through life.
At the end of the day I know that their Father is looking down on them with pride, and when I talk to him at the end of each day I always make sure to reassure him that they’re going to be alright in the end.…