Anything embarrassing that happens to me now – the man who called to say our date should remain ‘a unique occasion’; the time someone hacked into my computer and sent an erotic e-mail from me to half of literary London – is bearable simply because it will make a good anecdote for my friends. What Sex and the City did for women of my age was to make indulgence acceptable. Don’t beat yourself up with the guilt – have a pedicure or a blow-dry. ‘Our marriage is fine, but it’s hard work.’ ‘That great job? ‘I hated it.’ And the parties are more fun because people make an effort to talk to people they don’t know, instead of huddling in cliques.
Of course, the big existential issues can’t be solved by such frivolity. The other thing that makes your 40s easier is that people are telling the truth. In your 20s everyone is so competitive, you’d rather die than admit to failure. Ten years ago, a woman eating in a restaurant or going to see a film alone was regarded as a sign of failure. And in a world consumed by youth, that’s such a privilege.
Yes, maybe the jawline is less taut, the waistline less defined. Strategies learned at work turn out to be useful in love, and vice versa.
If I have one piece of advice, it’s to be incredibly warm to everyone. It took me years to realise that you don’t have to be edgy and difficult.
You’ll both have a great story to tell your friends.