15 or 50 – we’re all in this together

I read The Invisible Woman almost in a single sitting, and enjoyed it a lot.  It’s a cheery addition to the growing list of books attempting to re-define what it means to be middle-aged and it’s full of feelings I recognise and problems I can see looming over my own horizon.   So it seems a bit mean to be writing about it with a criticism, but…

Part of the introduction is a light-hearted list of things which get on the author’s nerves.  Among the mentions for the harsh lighting in department store changing rooms, and adverts for thermal knickers and floral sofa covers, is this:

Young people in groups – because I now find them vaguely threatening and know that while I am still able to run I will not be able to run fast enough.  Groups of young people must be passed silently, avoiding all eye contact.

I know it’s just meant to be a jokey list, but it struck me as an odd addition to a book which is, after all, a heartfelt plea for people to see past the label of “middle age” and recognise us as individuals with a contribution still to make.  It stuck out particularly because the very next item in her list of pet hates is this:

Shop assistants. or anyone else who makes assumptions without enquiry –  just because my face says I’m middle aged doesn’t mean I want you to pigeon-hole my wardrobe/menu choices/show requirements/understanding of modern technology etc etc

I know lots of young people, who’d make a similar comment about the way we over-50s pigeon-hole them. ( I still recommend you read the book, though!)

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