Written by Judith Holder

Voices

Grey Pride

In her column about getting older, Judith Holder talks about Christmas party frock hell. And food. Lots and lots of food.

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Illustration by Harriet Carmichael.

We are officially entering the party frock season. Now I no longer have a proper job and have started to call myself semi-retired – which is code for I am no longer in full-time employment but I’m still fucking amazing (clearly a strategy that is fooling no one) – there are admittedly fewer Christmas party frock dos in the diary. Which is just fine and dandy by me.

I ventured into the modest black, sequined, sparkly, silver section of my wardrobe fearing most of them would no longer fit. Yep, fears confirmed with only one of them fitting but with a speed bump type arrangement all down my back fat. Nice.

The scale and speed of the physical fall-out is taking me by surprise. Now that I have turned 60 it all seems to be sagging, cracking, puckering or frizzing at a rate of knots. Even my toenails have gone weird on me and are starting to look like pork scratchings.

Older and wider is a good way to describe the state of play; kind of me, but on a bad day. I’ve cottoned on to the large jewellery trick. Wear things chunky enough and you trick the eye into thinking that the rest of you is quite svelte.

However, even necklaces the size of house bricks aren’t fooling anyone any more. The only way to fit into the largest of my party frocks would be to have nothing to eat until two weeks on Thursday. Which I am now old enough to know is not going to happen.

My need for regular food is now absolute. If I am forced to skip lunch, or supper is substantially later than scheduled I get physically edgy. I’m like a rhino who will attack anyone who stands between it and water, but in my case it’s between me and my food. It could get ugly.

“Flirting is actually rather a life saver at parties. Even feeling someone’s eyes on you at 60 can liven things up.”

I carry little snacks in my handbag. Packets of oatcakes, or a stolen packet of hotel biscuits just in case. Last time I tried the fasting diet it was more like the 363/2 diet than the 5/2 one. I simply find it very hard not to eat. A lot.

The combination of physical changes and my newly accelerated need for food and plenty of it means that my sexual currency is lower than it has been since I wore a confirmation outfit with a lot of frills when I was 13, old enough to have told my mother to bog off. And here’s the really depressing bit. The Christmas parties (such as they are) are going to have to be undergone with no sexual chemistry at all.

It struck me that just about all the good parties I have ever been to (we’re talking small numbers here) have involved a lot of sexual chemistry. Flirting is actually rather a life saver at parties. Even feeling someone’s eyes on you at 60 can liven things up.

How on earth will I get on at parties with just small talk and some party size mince pies when really I would rather be catching up with The Missing in front of the fire with a plate of normal size mince pies?

The search for a new party dress has taken place and I found a gold stretchy one covered in sparkly stuff. I mean covered, as in glitterball. Subconsciously another attention-seeking ploy (or cry for help, perhaps).

I went to my first party last Friday and danced all night. Now, this is the way to go with parties. I danced and danced. I decided to ask everyone and anyone to dance. No one was churlish enough to say no. Trouble is, the dress was pretty cheap and the house has a trail of gold sparkle everywhere and will have for the foreseeable future. Every man I danced with also had gold glitter on his sleeve.

Just as well I am not in the market for bed-hopping, as the evidence would be clear to see. One can dream.

Read all of Judith’s previous columns here.

@greyprideUK

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Written by Judith Holder

Producer/writer of the BBC Two series Grumpy Old Women and the spin off books, and co-writer with Jenny Eclair of the three stage shows which have been international hits.