Tuesday 28 February 2017

Memoir: Out of Time Mid-Life if you think you're still young by Miranda Sawyer

Fourth Estate, €14.99

Deirdre Conroy

Deirdre Conroy

Out of Time Mid-Life if you think you're still young by Miranda Sawyer
Out of Time Mid-Life if you think you're still young by Miranda Sawyer

In her youth, Miranda Sawyer had a plum job as a writer for Smash Hits, a fairly genuine excuse for a hedonistic period of sex, drugs, rock and roll. Then she had an epiphany after the house she rented with other party-goers went on fire. She left her job, bought a black London taxi and took off for France. Mystery, adventure, spontaneity epitomised that period. On her return to London she resumed a varied journalistic career. If youth and freedom go hand in hand, Sawyer's freedom lasted until she was 39, when she had her first child. Her second came along at 44. That's when it dawned on her that routine, stability, regular meals and school runs, was a crisis. Only then did she calculate that she would be 63 when her daughter was 18.

But she didn't run off with her tennis coach or buy leather trousers. Her take on this critical period is sardonic and witty, informed by many others in her world of music, writing and London hangouts.

To read Sawyer proves that no matter which way you go about it, career or children first, mid-life takes you by surprise. I love her term, the 'Death Math', for the ponderous calculations once the shock arrives, of the diminishing time to fulfil dreams and ambitions.

The critical moment when mid-life carves a notch on your timeline, can be any time post 35. In Sawyer's case, it comes crashing into her kitchen like a wrecking ball. Panic sets in, where did the years go?

The author is married with two healthy children and a truckload of adventurous memories. Mid-life review is having a moment, perhaps the more we share, the better. Ageing is inevitable, doing it with style, fun and grace is the key. Sawyer, still only in her forties, handles it with zest.

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