LAST LOOK

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View - JANE FRASER

YOU know you’ve passed your use- by date when you are dropped from the guest lists of the pil­low- lipped pub­li­cists wear­ing short leather skirts who run the so­cial agenda in our cities: you know, open­ings of shoe shops, launch­ings of scents, spruik­ings of un­der­wear, be­gin­nings of rac­ing sea­sons, all the im­por­tant events that help shape our lives.

Strangely enough this seems to have hap­pened at a time of life when you re­alise you are be­com­ing set in your ways, a eu­phemism for be­hav­ing like an early- last- cen­tury spin­ster. I had two great aunts called Edie and Ger­tie who never mar­ried. They lived in the Lake Dis­trict, neigh­bours of Beatrix Pot­ter, whom they de­scribed as be­ing not quite all there. Edie stood at the cur­tained win­dow most of the day, spy­ing on Beatrix, while Ger­tie, a stick­ler for clean­li­ness, col­lected pen­nies and far­things and scrubbed them in boil­ing wa­ter, lest they carry fa­tal ill­nesses.

I haven’t re­sorted to ei­ther of th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties just yet, but it may be early days. How­ever, I fear be­com­ing a slave to rou­tine; what­ever hap­pened to spon­tane­ity? When was the last time you sat around a friend’s ta­ble un­til three in the morn­ing sur­rounded by empty wine bot­tles? When did a friend pop around for a drink just be­cause he was driv­ing past? More than likely, given this new stick- in- the- mud af­flic­tion, if this did hap­pen, you’d tell him to pop right out again, you had things to do. When did you last lie on the sofa in the mid­dle of the day and read a book?

In the morn­ing you get up, shower, eat a re­volt­ing amount of fi­bre, brush your teeth and go to work, where you hy­drate your­self at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals and munch mung beans at noon. No one does lunch any more; all work and no play makes you a val­ued em­ployee. No such thing as loi­ter­ing in a cafe for a cou­ple of hours. You go to Star­bucks to get revved up with a caf­feine fix and run out with your take­out in a brown pa­per bag.

When you get home you cook din­ner. Noth­ing much out of the or­di­nary, re­ally, but alarm bells should sound when you slap your­self on the wrist for putting the tomato in the salad bowl be­fore the let­tuce. It’s al­most as bad as mak­ing tea in the morn­ing and putting the milk in first.

It may be more dif­fi­cult than it sounds, but my new res­o­lu­tion is to learn again to re­lax and — how can I put it? — have fun.

In the mean­time I flick through the so­ci­ety pages of the tabloids and glossy mag­a­zines just to see what I’m miss­ing by be­ing struck off. There’s never a name I recog­nise: soapie chicks and real­tors, mi­nor ten­nis play­ers and rock stars manque. Nice enough in their own way, and they’re all fight­ing global warm­ing, but it’s not for me. It is more than ap­par­ent that to be on the A- list, to be in­vited out with the movers and shakers, you must be able, will­ingly, to wear un­der­wear — and that’s all — out at night.

fraserj@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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