I‘d like to think old age does bring wisdom. The Chinese have great respect for the elderly but in this country it is only too easy to become invisible and ignored with age. I’m determined that won’t happen to me so this year I’m trying to learn new things. To be precise – two new things. First, I hope I have finally learnt is that the trick to losing weight is that there is no trick. Losing money is easy – just buy diet books. I’ve bought them all. The Scarsdale diet, the Cabbage diet, the Atkins diet, the grapefruit diet… I’ve taken pills and I’ve had injections. In the sixties there was a diet ‘doctor’ – I use the word loosely – who injected you through your tights and gave pills that were reputed to contain tapeworm eggs. Everyone went there – the waiting room was filled with film stars and models – all of whom claimed, when interviewed, that they owed their amazing figures to exercise and a sensible diet. Of course, that is the way to lose weight – eat less and exercise more! It’s not exactly rocket science. So why is it that whenever I see an ad pop up on my computer for a new ‘miracle’ way to lose weight I have to click on it to see. ‘Lose a 14 lbs in a fortnight’ – what’s not to like about that? Lose £14 in a minute by buying this amazing diet book more like. But hope springs eternal and all that. ‘This is not a diet’ they proclaim maintaining that it is an entirely new method of losing weight all based on science. I know all about the so called science in ads. In a previous life I was a freelance copywriter for an advertising agency and I once wrote an extremely successful campaign for a (now defunct) skincare company – I don’t think that my campaign had anything to do with the death of the company. This company was very old fashioned and they advertised their skin care products in The Lady. My grandmother used their vanishing cream. Not as I fervently wished as a child that it would make her vanish – she was a terrifying old bat, nor indeed did it make wrinkles vanish, it was called vanishing cream because it was supposed to be so light it vanished on the skin. In any case I was asked to write a series of ads for this skin care range. The amount I knew about the subject could have been written on a postage stamp but a few trips to the library (in those far off pre-Google days that was what we did) gave me plenty of facts about the dermis and the epidermis. I wrote in glowing (and completely fictional terms) about the benefits of the different products. The appeared below a moody photograph of a beautiful young woman. The client loved them and so too did the customer. Sadly anno domini overtook the customers as my grandmother’s generation died off. The cod science remains but I think that today blatant lies are discouraged!
The other important thing that I have learnt with age is the secret of packing. My husband always thought it was highly amusing to ask just before we left the house when the pantechnicon was arriving or even more amusingly he would remind me that I had forgotten the kitchen sink from which you will gather that packing light has never been my forte. But no longer – I am determined to take only essentials with me the next time I go abroad. While it is good to be prepared for every eventuality, it has to be said that I have never been asked unexpectedly to go to a ball whilst on a week’s package holiday in a ski resort. This time it will be a pair of jeans, a couple of T shirts, a pair of ski pants and three or four tops. On the other hand I might just slip in a pair of stilettos just in case and perhaps a couple of cashmere jumpers – I’ve never yet stayed anywhere in the mountains where the central heating has failed, but there is always a first time. And I’m sure there’ll be a corner in my case for that ball gown – after all you never know.