Susie Fowler-Watt

Our columnist of­fers up a mid-life man­i­festo

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - Susie Fowler-Watt

THIS WEEK, for the first time in my life, I for­got my hair­dresser’s ap­point­ment. In the sum­mer, to my ab­so­lute shame and em­bar­rass­ment, I stood up my friend Rachel, who was wait­ing to have lunch with me in a Nor­wich restau­rant. My shifts at work had changed, and it com­pletely slipped my mind un­til I got a text say­ing: ‘Are you still OK for lunch?’ 15 min­utes af­ter I was meant to have ar­rived.

The thing that shocked and up­set me about these in­ci­dents was that they were both in my di­ary. It now seems that a di­ary in it­self is not enough – I have to set my­self re­minders for events in my di­ary. This is not me; I have al­ways been the one with an al­most pho­to­graphic mem­ory. But those photos are curl­ing and fad­ing to sepia.

I re­cently in­ter­viewed the writer Al­li­son Pear­son, who has caught up with her ‘I don’t know how she does it’ hero­ine Kate Reddy in a new book. Kate is now my kind of age. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery page made me laugh out loud – there was a lot in it that seemed to echo my life; jug­gling teenagers (or nearly teens), el­derly par­ents and a job, at a time of life when your own hor­mones are playing havoc.

She refers to her state-of-theart re­trieval sys­tem turn­ing into a dusty, provin­cial li­brary staffed by a man in slip­pers called Roy. Roy shuf­fles off try­ing to find the name of that mum you talked to at the school gate, or the ti­tle of the book you read on hol­i­day. At the moment my ‘Roy’ is try­ing to re­mem­ber the great idea I had for this col­umn just a few nights ago. Good luck with that, Roy: I didn’t write it down. I didn’t set an alert. It has gone.

‘Women in the sec­ond half of their 40s’ is not a group that nor­mally gets much at­ten­tion, but I feel – com­pletely ob­jec­tively of course – that this is wrong. We are the real su­per­women, hold­ing it all to­gether in mid-life while our bod­ies start to let us down and both ends of the age spec­trum con­stantly tug at our heart-strings. The trou­ble is most of us don’t feel like su­per­women – we mainly feel ex­hausted and over­whelmed by lists.

On my to-do list for the com­ing week – in no par­tic­u­lar order: switch elec­tric­ity sup­plier, check if my par­ents’ elec­tric­ity sup­plier needs switch­ing, buy a present for a 50th birthday, buy a present for a fifth birthday, write 20 thank-you notes for presents re­ceived at my own child’s fifth birthday party, sort out my father’s iPad prob­lems (re­motely, as he lives four hours’ drive away), book booster in­jec­tions for my chil­dren, write this col­umn (dead­line al­ready passed), source a new sep­tic tank lid, get car ser­viced, sham­poo the dog, get new train­ers for my son and put to­gether a Pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion on lead­er­ship(!) for a school talk, hav­ing never used Pow­er­point be­fore.

Ob­vi­ously I don’t put on the list my job, the food shop­ping, the school runs and the laun­dry. At the moment I can do those with­out re­minders, but there may come a time...

The good news is that we 47-year-olds are ap­par­ently the fo­cus of great at­ten­tion from politi­cians. Re­search on the last elec­tion shows that it is the 47-year-olds that are the ‘switch­ers’ who could make the dif­fer­ence as to which party gains power. This, of course, should give us power.

We need a man­i­festo aimed at mid-lif­ers. My first sug­ges­tion would be that a prom­ise to cre­ate an ex­tra day in the week just for us: we would have it all to our­selves and could use it to get ev­ery­thing done. And then maybe a spe­cial helpline we can call in times of panic: “Please give me a crash course in Pow­er­point over the phone in five min­utes, be­fore I have to go and pick up my daugh­ter from drama!”

I asked Al­li­son Pear­son whether hu­mour was the an­swer to keep­ing go­ing dur­ing this fre­net­i­cally busy part of our lives. She said hu­mour was im­por­tant, but she also wants to make sure women of our age don’t get over­looked and get the ap­pre­ci­a­tion we de­serve. We need to shout about just how amaz­ing we are.

So, here I am – with my lists – shout­ing!

“She refers to her sta­teof-the-art re­trieval sys­tem turn­ing into a dusty, provin­cial li­brary staffed by a man in slip­pers called Roy”

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