Last week I celebrated my (whisper it!) 50th birthday. I tried to do it quietly. For example, I made no announcements on social media, Facebook or Twitter, and I kept it strictly on a need-to-know basis between close friends and family. After all, who wants to shout from the rooftops that they're half a century old? If 40 had seemed bad, then 50 had to be much worse. However, the proverbial cat was let out of the bag when friends and family arrived on my doorstep with balloons, banners and a long list of surprises for a birthday that ended up being strung out over four days. For starters, I'm sat writing this column from a spa hotel on a Scottish island. I've been drip-fed champagne and Chablis (my favourite wine) for days. So why was I trying to keep it quiet? Because I (wrongly) believed there's nothing to celebrate about being half a century old. That was until my friends convinced me otherwise. So I conducted an unscientific straw poll around the table in a swanky Italian a few nights ago and we came up with ten reasons why reaching five decades should actually be celebrated. They are:
1. I'm still here. The alternative is unthinkable.
I’ve reached a stage in my life where I don’t really give a damn what anyone else thinks.
2. I can dance and sing to Bohemian Rhapsody in my kitchen with friends until 4am and no one bats and eyelid (and the neighbours don't dare complain).
3. I can do crazy things and people won't question it because they think I'm either a) unhinged b) unpredictable or c) just plain old.
4. I can look at my partner and say “we've a hundred years worth of life experience between us, so what could go wrong?”
5. I'm more financially secure than I've ever been.
6. I can look at my wobbly, saggy bits and think I'm not bad for 50 (because I've still got my own teeth).
7. The clothes at the back of my wardrobe are so old they're vintage and so completely on trend.
8. I can meet someone in a restaurant celebrating their 60th birthday and feel very young (this happened).
9. I can become a cougar and outrageously flirt with young waiters, who will smile and tolerate me because they think I'm a batty old dear who will leave them a decent tip.
10. I've reached a stage in my life where I don't really give a damn what anyone else thinks because I'm old enough to know my own mind. Besides, I'm 50, so I haven't got long left.
Ten bad things? There are none ... here's to the next half a century.