When Jane succumbs to the winter blues, she and Bryony have very different ideas about the cure
Fuelled by alcohol, I found myself sending a reply to a ‘fit and active middle-aged gentlem an’
Mum would benefit from having someone to help her – and by someone, I do not mean a boyfriend
Jane Gordon Age unknown Mother, grandmother and 24/7 childminder
Try as I might as we approach the season of goodwill, I can’t seem to shake the dark feelings that have been overwhelming me for the past few weeks – OK, months. I know that I should be thankful for all my blessings – family, friends and good health (I have at least finally thrown off Granny Flu) – but there is an overriding sense of something missing in my life, chiefly a future.
This is despite the good efforts of the two people I have dared to confide in – Bryony and Belle. Back home for a couple of nights last week, I spent much of that time being buoyed up by Belle, who has more than earned the title BFF. I summoned up the courage to tell her how melancholy I was feeling on one of our early morning dog-talks, and that evening she turned up at my door unannounced bearing a clutch of what she called ‘pep-you-up props’, which included a scarlet lipstick, a bottle of fizz and a copy of the magazine The Oldie. This last gift was something of a surprise, bearing in mind that Belle is more of a Vogue/Stella woman, but as ever, there was method in her madness.
‘I have brought you an annual subscription that includes access to a brand-new site for the over-50s called Greydar,’ Belle explained.
Fuelled by alcohol and Belle’s irrepressible enthusiasm, I found myself, an hour later, not only sending a tentative reply to a ‘fit and active middle-aged gentleman’ with his own ‘sea-going yacht’ but also penning my own ‘want’ ad.
I am fully aware that I have been here before, but if nothing else, this particular looking-for-love experience has already been a cut above the other dating sites I have signed up to, thanks to my BFF. My ad may not bring me what I think I want in time for Christmas, but just putting myself out there has cheered me up a little.
‘Fit and active middle-aged gentlewoman seeks a future.’ What can possibly go wrong?
Bryony Gordon 38 Married to a very patient husband Harry, and mother to Edie, five
Ireally want mum to have therapy. I really want everyone to have therapy, because I think the world would be a better place if we were all forced to sit down once a week and talk about our feelings. But as, realistically, I am not able to make this happen, I will focus all my attention on my mother, who seems to labour under the illusion that someone else will make her feel better – that someone else being a man, not a qualified counsellor.
We all do it, of course. Most of my 20s and early 30s were spent waiting for Harry to turn up and make everything better. And though he did, for a while, it soon became clear that the only person who was going to create any sort of long-term stability in my life was me. Hence rehab. Hence therapy. Significant others can support you through the tough times. But they are not going to stop the tough times. I feel deeply patronising when I say this to Mum, because I am several decades younger than she is (who knows how many?), and really, what do I know? Also, it’s all very well for me to wax lyrical about the joys of selfsufficiency while my husband quietly cleans up the mess around me. But. But, but, but! I do think Mum would benefit from having someone to help her – and by someone, I do not mean a boyfriend. The problem is, every time I suggest therapy as an option, she looks at me as if I have just told her to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mum is of the generation that sees therapy as self-indulgent, and even a daughter who does the odd bit of mental health campaigning cannot, it seems, alter that. ‘I’m too old to start changing the way I think,’ she says, when I challenge her on this.
‘But I thought you were only 21!’ I cry. ‘I don’t need someone to help me process my feelings, darling. Just someone who can fix my dishwasher from time to time and bring me breakfast in bed at the weekend.’
I roll my eyes and start thinking up the perfect Christmas present.