I have just turned forty-six. On the webnews this evening, Ms Catherine Deneuve was saying that from a Hollywood perspective, life was over at 45. Well, nobody who has seen me in the plentiful flesh would describe me as a professional beauty, but I do find that a little sad. At 46, I find that quite a lot of people I have known for 25 years or so seem now to be ruling significant portions of the world. I am infinitely less at the mercy of employers than I was when I was 26, slim, and really quite pretty, both because I have a track record of miscellaneous virtue, and because I now know what to do if someone gets opportunistic. I have friends, literally, in every continent. I haven’t apologised for anything for at least a decade. While it might be nice to look like Ms Catherine Deneuve (or near offer, given that I never had either cheekbones or a nose, thought at least I had nice legs), it would take me, as it takes her, four or five hours a day, which to my mind, would be better spent reading, writing, or gardening. And what would it get me? really, not a lot: it would be much harder to get onto genuinely friendly terms with people such as the Apparitional Gamekeeper, and indeed, quite a lot of the chaps who work for us on and off, if I was visibly keeping open options on being ‘attractive to men’. There would, I suppose, be the opportunity to spend a lot of money on clothes, if I were still size 10. Well. Whoop de doo. And if you’ve stopped being interested….? The only thing in the course of the last week which has really given me a poignant moment of passing time is that it now takes me six goes to thread a needle. Tayla and I are making a patchwork and I keep passing the thread over, ‘could you just do this…?’ So: partially sighted, stout, unapologetic, unrepentant, I say, youth was all very well and was fun while it lasted, but with respect to everything which I actually care about, middle age is better.