From men to mid life crises, from Botox to Brazilians, from infertility to infidelity, every week Jacqui Leigh gives her personal take on being a fortysomething woman
From fungal food to humble pie
Supper last night:
Steamed carrots and broccoli (so far so good)
Yuck, you’re thinking. And I understand perfectly. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what Quorn was exactly, except that it didn’t sound nice. And when I checked it out on Google it was worse than I had ever imagined. According to Wikipedia, 'Quorn is the leading brand of mycoprotein food product in the UK and Ireland. The mycoprotein used to produce Quorn is extracted from a fungus, Fusarium venenatum, which is grown in large vats.' Mmm, yummy. And yet those Quorn goujons are actually really good.
While I’m eating I check my email.
Heavy sigh. I have a Facebook friend request from a girl I was at school with. Julie W. I remember her name but I can say, without hesitation, that not only was she never even close to being a friend at school, but I haven’t given her a nanosecond’s thought since I left school, um... let’s see... twenty six years ago.
Once again I am struck by the total surreal stupidity of Facebook. At this point I should move swiftly on but because I’m human, I just can’t help myself.
I click on the thumbnail of her photo. Scary quite frankly. A middle aged, slightly frumpy looking woman with a blonde bob sitting alone in some kind of hotel lobby in a sky blue blazer, flowery dress and fat knees. Suddenly my brain is besieged by a whirlwind of questions including:
How sad is that?!
Blimey, is this the nicest picture she had of herself?
Is that how we all look?
Couldn’t she just post a picture of her cat or one of the kids?
Why was she looking for me on Facebook?
I feel guilty. I don’t want to be her friend but there’s something a bit heartbreaking about that photo.
Out of boredom I scroll through her list of friends. Predictably there are some other people from school. The first one I recognise is a nasty little brat, Jason, who made my life a misery in primary school and who has now turned into a middle aged fatso with yellow tinted glasses. So there is justice in this world.
Then I see another woman from my year, who I happen to know died recently. Why is she still there on Facebook? And there’s another girl from school, not a special friend of mine either, but I remember her as being nice. In the photo her head is shaven and she’s smiling wryly into the camera, her arm around her little daughter, a girl about Monica’s age. It’s a real shock.
Which reminds me that two other girls in my year have died of cancer in the last few years both leaving kids. That’s a total of three and we are still in our early forties.
Suddenly I’m not hungry any more.
It makes me think that really, however tough things are right now for me, struggling with single motherhood and in the middle of my toxic divorce - and for most of us, coping with kids and bills and work and life in general - we are lucky.
I’m sorry to say it but good health is something not to be taken for granted. And at our age, even more so. Without wanting to lecture you girls, it really is more important than ever to look after yourselves, eat properly, cut down on the booze, ditch the fags, exercise. Boring yes, but you can do it and if you start before Christmas you can skip the suicidal self loathing that comes from eating an entire tin of Celebrations.
Back to the Quorn goujons. My health is not the only reason I’ve decided not to eat meat any more but it’s one of them. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you about the others now. But if you need a good reason to give up meat (and there are many) - vegetarians are healthier, fact. And if you think mycoprotein sounds a bit revolting, well really, is dead animal any more appealing? And to be honest, they taste good anyway.
So there you go. Thanks Julie W. for looking me up on Facebook. Without realising it you have reminded me how insignificant my problems really are.
And yet, hmm, I still don’t feel like being your friend.