The big Five-Oh - so is this it, am I destined for old age now?
Not exactly feeling nifty at 50, but thankfully I'm warming to the fact that I'm still here, writes Carol Hunt
Suddenly I find that I am surrounded by middle-aged people. Some of them are positively elderly. As in around 50 years of age. Just think of that - 50 years. A whole half-century already gone. The point of no return, when you know that the years you have left will be fewer than those behind you. On my 40th birthday I had a big celebratory bash. Some of you may still remember it. Myself, friends and family booked a hotel in town, hired a magician and a fortune-teller, ate, drank, danced and were very merry indeed.
I could comfortably fit into a Little Black Dress, dance for hours in stilettos and still remember most of my guests' names at the end of the night. We had a blast. Which may be why my brother was surprised when I refused point-blank to even acknowledge last week's milestone. But turning 50 is what happens to Other People - old people - and I had never thought I would be one of them.
I know that sounds irrational. I mean, I can count as well as the next person (if that person isn't particularly great at maths) but, in my heart, or spirit, or soul, or wherever the essence of us is supposed to lie, I'm still very much in my early 40s. But the calendar says differently. Last week I turned 50. FIFTY. I can't say I don't know where the years have gone to. I know exactly where they went. I'm not so senile yet that I can't remember - though there are some events that are deliciously hazy and others far too clear for comfort. Nor can I say that I don't feel as if I'm 50. I have no idea what 50 is supposed to feel like. All I know is that I don't feel any different than I did when I was 30 and 40, and consequently I don't want to admit to myself that I'm far nearer the end-game than the entrance. A couple of years ago, I wrote a very positive piece on ageing for this newspaper. I quoted a good friend of mine who was celebrating her 50th birthday at the time. She had organised a stellar party, invited all her friends and family, and was thrilled and looking forward to a new phase in her life.