For those of you gagging to read my Isle of Thanet Gazette column without having to shell out 80p, here it is, hopefully better late than never.

Because I was up against deadline, there was only time for a fleeting mention of the Books Are My Bag campaign – I went to the fab launch in Foyles last minute, the night before – but this does not mean I don’t feel passionately about it.  A stroke of pure bloody genius from Gail Rebuck and Maurice Saatchi if I may say so, so hurrah for both. Bookshops are the last bastion of a civilised society. Use ’em or lose ’em and wear your bag with pride. (After seeing this photo I will put mine OVER my head next time).


Plain Jane 130913 blog

GOOD news. There was I, thinking I was already middle-aged and it turns out I still have a way to go.

A study commissioned by Benenden Health has concluded that middle age begins at 53, not 41 as previously thought. Well hurrah for that – as if it really matters.

I am all for the old-as-you-feel school of ageing and as long as I don’t actually look in the mirror, I can spend whole days convinced I remain in the first flush of youth.

And now I have read the list of criteria that decides whether one is over the hill, have decided that either I really am still young, or I was, in fact, old before my time.

I am pleased to report that I do not yet need an afternoon nap, or groan when I bend down, complain about my stiff joints, or prefer a night in with a board game to a night on the town (as long as the night out isn’t too noisy and I can sometimes sit down!).

Nor have I sprouted hairy ears. I wouldn’t dream of taking a flask anywhere – unless it was of the hip variety – I garden less, rather than more, than I used to, and the Antiques Road Show still leaves me cold.

On the other hand, I have been listening to Radio Two all my life and have been enjoying the Archers since I was 25.

I always did lose my car keys, forget people’s names and avoided heels if I could, because they’re uncomfortable.

I do carry tissues because the possibly dire consequences of not doing so was drummed into me at an early age and I would hyperventilate if there weren’t 35 crumpled ones at the bottom of my handbag and more in my pocket.

I think I’m pretty good with modern technology though my son, snatching the remote control with a “Why are you so useless, Mum?” begs to differ.

Which just goes to show how thoroughly meaningless these studies are. Especially as teachers and policeman ARE young these days, aren’t they? And there IS a lot of rubbish on the TV…

ONE of the benefits of getting a little longer in the tooth is that one tends to care less about what other people think.

I confess to being mystified by reports that mothers these days plan their “going back to school” outfits some weeks in advance and spend an average of £84 on their appearance in readiness for the five minutes in which they will be on show, dropping their little darlings at the playground gates.

Good luck to you, if you managed the return in an aura of cool glamour.

In our house we were usually too busy playing hunt-the-tie to worry about whether I was dressed, let alone what the label on my handbag said, or if I’d had a manicure.

And the only time there was any specific financial outlay involved was when I happened to have bought some new pyjamas.

WHAT you do care about as you gently mature, I find, is proper shops.

This week saw the launch of the Books Are My Bag campaign, led by ad man Maurice Saatchi and top publisher Gail Rebuck, and set up to celebrate, nurture and save the nation’s book stores, which have been closing, rather shockingly, at the rate of one a week for the last ten years.

This brilliant plan involves the nation’s readers to show their support by carrying the nifty orange Books Are My Bag tote, wherever they go.

Pick yours up tomorrow (Saturday) from Waterstones at Westwood Cross. But set out early if you’re slower than you used to be – they’ll be going fast.