All on account of a number

2009-02-11 00:00

So there I was, hurtling through the air about 35 metres above a forest, wondering how I got there when the voice of my dear deceased friend, Frances, came to me: “You chose to get yourself into this, so don’t expect any sympathy from me.”

Frances was a spirited Irish woman, a nun and a midwife, who delivered more children than there were beads on all the rosaries in her convent. I learnt never to look to her for a kindly ear when our children were young and I was often semi-comatose from lack of sleep, smeared in porridge, mashed peas or worse, and wondering what happened to the professional career woman I once was.

Although I was a long way from porridge and mashed peas, zipping through space with my life literally hanging by ropes, I had indeed chosen to be there, and all on account of a number.

I wrote sometime last year about this being a significant year for the “‘59ers” as those of us born in 1959 limp, crawl or perhaps hurl ourselves at 50. I had planned to celebrate by having a “pudding party”. However, I soon realised that the consequences of that would far outweigh the enjoyment, literally. The limited preliminary research I did into local pudding vendors brought on a severe case of shrunken jeans so I gave up the idea and googled the Internet for a copy of the cabbage diet. That is a story I’m not going to tell. Just take it from me, don’t go there. Ever.

I have always been strongly suspicious of this phase of life after bumping into a group of older girls at boarding school tut-tutting about the shocking antics of another girl’s father who was turning 50. It emerged that he had left his family, bought a motorbike, complete with an attractive female pillion decoration, and driven off to find himself. And all on account of a mysterious illness called “a mid-life crisis”. As a very naïve teenager, I didn’t understand what that meant, and I suspect I still don’t.

However, lest this suspect state of being sneak up on me suddenly and induce me to do something outrageous and dangerous, like buy a motorbike or find a toyboy, I’m actively pursuing my own crisis by trying things that are only mildly risky and not at all outrageous. That’s how I came to be careening along at about 100 km/h at the end of a rope, doing a forest canopy tour. I kid you not, and the look on my face in the thoughtfully provided “candid camera” photos proves it.

I hope to go canoeing on the Duzi, which, with the E.coli levels, is probably the most dangerous thing I’ll do this year. I also want to try belly dancing. They say it’s great fun and good exercise. I’ll find out and let you know.

Much to my children’s bemusement, I also went to a tattoo party with a group of women friends and acquired some “body art”. I’m considering some piercing, but my pain threshold doesn’t seem to be very high (ask the tattoo guy), so I’m not sure about that. I’m not saying what or where my “tatt” is, but if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine …

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