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Sarah Vine: Our fifties are a blast because we simply don’t give a damn

Good news: the Government has finally cleared up the confusion about whether or not over-50s will be locked down (or up, depending on your point of view) in the event of a second wave. It turns out we won’t be.

This comes as a relief not only for people like me, aged 53, with a family to look after, dogs to walk, a job to do, elderly relatives to visit; but also, I suspect, as a relief for the Government. 

Because had they decided to try to enforce such a strategy, my very strong sense is that they would have had a full-scale mutiny on their hands.

Because while the over-50s are generally law-abiding, community minded types, we won’t bite our tongues if something strikes us as bonkers. Which, frankly, that did.

But the main reason, I think, that so many people my age took offence to the proposal was this: we see ourselves in the prime of life, at the top of our game. 

Perhaps not in physical terms, but in intellectual and emotional terms.

As if on cue, a poll earlier this week underlined the point. Of 3,000 people aged 50 to 59, 40 per cent said life was more exciting and fulfilling now than in their 30s. 

Sixty-two per cent said they felt more at peace with themselves — and 58 per cent thought their 50s were the happiest years of their lives.

In other words, being 50 is fun. And the reason? Four-fifths of the respondents agreed: they ‘couldn’t care less’ what others thought of them — so just got on with doing exactly what they wanted.

And that, my friends, is the key. Not caring what anyone else thinks. Knowing your own mind, and not being afraid to speak it.

For women in particular, this comes as a bit of a revelation. 

From an early age, we are conditioned to please — our fathers, our teachers, our partners, our bosses, our spouses, our children.

Our hormones play a big part in this, of course. But most women in their 50s are either menopausal or post-menopausal. 

All those chemicals that make us predisposed to putting up with other people’s nonsense are dissipating. And one glorious day the hormonal fug clears completely and we realise we don’t need people’s approval.

Suddenly we find ourselves saying exactly what we think and (shock, horror) doing exactly as we please. 

Like the other day, when I got home from work to find ten teenagers in my kitchen, courtesy of my son, who had seen fit to invite them over in my absence. It was like a Kevin and Perry convention in a Lynx factory.

An earlier incarnation of me would have been all anxious, apologetic middle-class mum about it. But 53-year-old me couldn’t care less. 

In five minutes they were sloping off down the road with some choice words ringing in their ears — and my son was very, very sorry indeed.

The good news is it’s only going to get better. Or worse, depending on where you’re standing.

I shall leave you with the words of Jenny Joseph, from her wonderful poem, Warning:

‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple,

‘With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.’

No wonder they want to lock us all up!

 St Meghan of Tiara 

I was on holiday last week in North Devon, so I missed the extracts from Finding Freedom, the misery ‘memoir’ about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

Particularly poignant, I thought, was the story of how poor Meghan was cruelly denied instant access to the Queen Mary tiara (which she wore on her Big Day), despite the fact she had flown in her hairdresser from Paris for a fitting.

Forget Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa: has anyone suffered more for the greater good than the paragon of altruism that is Meghan Markle?

Can my drug fight two modern plagues? 

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have always struggled to control my weight. 

This was brought home to me rather bluntly a few years ago when my doctor informed me that if I didn’t do something about the extra three stone I was lugging around, I was at risk of becoming pre-diabetic.

So I took myself off to one of those joyless Austrian fat farms and began intermittent fasting. I lost a couple of stone in the space of a few months. Then, as ever, my weight began to creep back up.

This time I wasn’t giving up. I went to see a bariatric surgeon about the possibility of a gastric band. 

Instead, he prescribed something called liraglutide, a daily jab used by the NHS on patients with diabetes to help stabilise blood sugar — but which also has the happy side-effect of reducing appetite, thereby causing weight loss.

It’s been slow but steady. Over the past two years, I have gone from a size 18 to a stable 14, and although I could do with jettisoning a bit more around the middle, I am now within the correct range for my age.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because this week a major study at Exeter University found that not only does liraglutide help patients manage diabetes and lose weight, it also slashes the risk of developing dementia by half.

Yes, that’s correct: half. This it does partly because of the way it stabilises blood sugars, but also by reducing the number of toxic amyloid proteins that contribute to the disease.

Before I started taking liraglutide, I was either hungry and miserable or fat and miserable. Now I am neither.

The fact that this little jab may even help me keep my marbles is just the cherry on the low-fat cake.

This weekend saw the end of free TV licences for the over-75s — meaning three million people will have to stump up £157.50 a year, or face prosecution. 

With our elderly more housebound than ever due to Covid, the TV is a lifeline for many. 

Wouldn’t covering this bill be a better use of taxpayer money than a cut-price Nando’s?

How can Britain consider repatriating ISIS bride Shamima Begum when we have failed to grant a safe haven to Afghan translators who were the ‘eyes and ears’ of our Army? 

These people risked their lives to help us, yet are treated worse by the British system than a woman who ran away to join a terrorist organisation.

Enjoy your staycation, Ma’am 

It’s that time of year again, when the beautiful people head off on their hols, and we all get to see what they look like in a bikini. 

Caprice, Coleen, Kate and the rest: all various degrees of fabulousness in variously enviable sun-soaked seaside destinations.

But my favourite picture this year is one of Her Majesty, who yesterday headed off to her annual summer retreat at Balmoral. 

Swarms of midges and rain-soaked heather may not be everyone’s idea of the ideal summer break — but she seems to like it, so who am I to judge?

Besides, if anyone deserves a holiday it’s the Queen, who, at 94, thanks to coronavirus and various family crises, has had the kind of year that would have wiped out a woman half her age. 

Enjoy your break, Ma’am. You’ve earned it.

Last week, the American news website CNN informed readers that ‘individuals with a cervix are now recommended to start cervical cancer screening at 25’.

‘Individuals with a cervix’? As J.K. Rowling might say, there’s a name for people like that, isn’t there?

I don’t see why re-opening schools means pubs might have to shut down. 

I appreciate that under-age drinking can be a problem — but surely things aren’t that bad? 

I need to talk to chew

Researchers in Hungary have discovered that dogs process language in the same way as humans — grasping not just the meaning of certain words, but cadence and intonation. 

If my dogs are anything to go by, they also have something else in common with humans: selective hearing. 

Say the word ‘sausage’ and you’ve never seen something fat and fluffy move so fast. 

Tell them to get off the sofa and they look at you with baffled amusement. Much like husbands and teenagers.

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