On the clearway now to 50, and feeling marvellous! My nurse, Sarah, said it's the Time of the Crone: a stage where women can begin to be free of cultural crap like looking good to attract or please men (although I don't quite feel ready to let myself go along the frizzy hair and hairy armpits tack - not just yet) and confident in their exchanges, with an assurance that comes from life experience and wisdom. That's not to say there won't be plenty of stupid fifty year old women (what will Jordan-Boob-Jobs be like at fifty, I wonder? She's raddled enough at thirty...Look at Madonna, described by her latest ex husband as a piece of gristle). I'm grateful, simply, to be where I am: an Amazonian matron who has survived 4 years on palliative treatment for advanced breast cancer. To have seen my daughter mature into her teens in these difficult years and achieve a scholarship to one of the best schools in this country (and certainly the noblest) is quite enough. That is a life IN FULL. (And I have published 3 novels, with another on the way, and run a successful education business and - so I'm told - helped countless students along the way.) Not used to blowing my own trumpet. But this is what counts, surely, the legacy one leaves - not a major party with a load of freeloading guests who may or may not be good friends? Blowing money on immaterial (though expensive) ephemeral 'milestones' - like stupid white wedding jamborees - has always been a complete nonsense for me. It's not that I'm mean or that I don't celebrate my friends. On the contrary: I am deeply grateful to all my friends, especially to those who (unlike my mean-spirited family) came forward to support and comfort me when I was on my own and facing chemo for the first time; and I do try to show it whenever I can (I hope) - not just on my birthday. I hope my friends know how much I appreciate them. They know who they are. So if they don't get an invitation to a 50th birthday party from me in a month's time, I hope they will understand that I am celebrating quietly, just glad to have made it this far.
Best of all, yes, best of all: at 50, finally, I can liberate myself from the curse of my indifferent mother and from all those, in the now thankfully distant past, who have sought to undermine me or hold me back in some undefinable way. You won't be reading this, of course, so I could freely name you - but I can't be arsed any more! Yippee!