The Prematurely Ageing Process

‘I think you’re a bit younger than me,’ said my client, as I was inspecting her ear canals for wax.

‘I think I am a little younger,’ I said. She was seventy-eight.

‘Probably late fifties, early sixties?’ she suggested.

I tried not to burst into tears.

After she had departed, I marched up to the reception in the surgery where I work.

‘Louise,’ I said. That lady said I looked late fifties/early sixties! Help me here!’

She adopted her kindest expression. ‘What are you?’ she asked gently, ‘mid-fifties?’

I popped out at lunch-time to get some Oil of Olay.


My Sydney-based Second Cousin Once Removed, or Phil, as I tend to call him, a compulsive Parkrunner, has made noises about adding the Portobello Parkrun to his list of conquests next year. And he wants me to join him.

In an effort to look like I know what I’m doing, especially as he’s coming all the way from Australia, not to mention having been encouraged back into running by a recent episode on the way to work, which involved me simply sitting down and my belt buckle exploding, I joined the growing crowd in Figgate Park at an unearthly hour on Saturday morning. I found a hi-vis-clad volunteer and confessed this was my first venture into the world of parkrunning. He was very reassuring. And so I set off on the leaves-covered path, three times around Figgate Park and a dash to the finish. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be all that dashing at the finish.

Halfway round the second lap I found myself tucked in behind a female runner. She was wearing a t-shirt with “Speed of Light” printed on the back. I never got to see what was printed on the front, and it was only a little while later that I couldn’t make out what was on the back either, as she receded into the middle distance. It was around this time that the proper runners started lapping me, calling out unnecessary and unhelpful encouragements as they wound up for a sprint finish.

I struggled on and finished the course in 132nd place, out of a total field of 221, which I consider to be reassuringly mid-table. I was also 10th in my age category, which – to avoid any misunderstanding and confusion – is the 40-49 category. For a few months longer.

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