Sunday 22 September 2019

Liz Kearney: 'Time waits for no woman - even in France'

Notebook

'I urge you to seek out the newly published book by French author Mylène Desclaux, 'Why French Women Feel Young at 50''
'I urge you to seek out the newly published book by French author Mylène Desclaux, 'Why French Women Feel Young at 50''
Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney

If you can't face another round of Christmas drinks looking as old as you actually are, and dream of nothing more than looking as young as you did a few years ago, I urge you to seek out the newly published book by French author Mylène Desclaux, 'Why French Women Feel Young at 50'.

You'll be hearing a lot more about this Parisienne blogger in weeks to come; her book is a runaway bestseller in France and is bound to find its way into many a stocking this Christmas.

Having found herself single in her 50s, Mme Desclaux was devastated when the man she'd fallen in love with started a relationship with a 37-year-old.

She took to her bed for three days and what followed was a period of soul-searching that spawned her popular blog, and then book, containing lighthearted life advice for women who, like her, feel forced into competing with love rivals 10 and 20 years younger.

Her advice for knocking a few years - if not decades - off the clock borders on the surreal: she advocates never revealing your true age, which to be fair is an old trick, but she goes a step further.

If you're turning 50, you can have a party, she says, but don't admit it's your birthday, as that would be a dead giveaway and a decade later, people will be adding 10 years to your age and you'll be entrapped for life.

"Be discreet," she advises. "You organise a big party and you invite friends. But you don't say why."

She's also not keen on wearing glasses, letting yourself just 'give in' and get fat, and she observes with approval the frankly bonkers habit she's noticed among Parisienne women of her acquaintance - that of changing their first names when they start to sound a bit old-fashioned.

I'm imagining the French equivalent of a generation of Marys and Sinéads suddenly refusing to answer to anything but Zoella.

It's all very French, but as a single fiftysomething friend of mine said recently, it's all very well having Brigitte Macron as a role model, but what if, after decades of dating and socialising and child-rearing and working, you're quite content to take a break from it all, slump back on the sofa eating doughnuts and watching 'Strictly'?

There's nothing wrong with the urge to look good whatever decade you're in, but any advice that veers towards coy age-denial always leaves me cold.

Who are you kidding, really? Certainly not your friends and family, who know exactly how old you are.

And if age is really just an abstraction, as Mme Desclaux herself points out, then what are we really so afraid of?

I'm not sure I swallow doctor's advice on Lego

Australian medics have finally got an answer to a question that keeps parents awake at night: what would actually happen if your kid ingested that bit of Lego he's always sticking in his mouth?

The answer, they discovered, is not a lot. The six Melbourne doctors all deliberately ate small Lego men's heads, to see how long it would take to pass through their bodies, so they could reassure parents that in most cases, ingested toys simply pass through the body in a day or two, with no harm done (although of course they're urging people not to try this at home).

But I am left with more questions than answers. Sure, if you eat a small round Lego head - which is little bigger than a pea - it's probably not the worst thing in the world, but what if you ate one of the bricks with pointy corners? Surely the, erm, passage in that case wouldn't be so smooth?

And why is stepping on Lego literally the most painful thing you can do short of breaking your foot? The doctors didn't answer that one.

Irish Independent

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