I’m going to be 37 on Sunday, and so this song has been going around my head. It’s a very dark vision of turning 37: suburbia, frustrated fantasies, boredom, a losing of identity under kids and husband, and ultimately suicide, but I’ve always strangely liked it, and been particularly intrigued by the line: ‘At the age of 37, she realised she’d never ride through Paris in a sports car, with the warm wind in her hair.’ I suppose I’ve always wondered how I would feel when I reached 37, and whether any of that would relate to me. And whether I would have managed to ride through Paris etc…by now.
The day before I turn 37 will see the last of my Guardian Q&A columns, by neat coincidence. They are little things, but I have done them for a long time, almost ten years* according to my editor (I’m sure it’s closer to eight, but am not a great record keeper), and I feel a need for a little self-indulgence over this, so humour me. I started off under Christopher Lloyd (I was meant to be the cheeky younger female to his er…cheeky older male). Then after his death I shared it with Carol Klein, then a page of my own for a while, and then finally in with a load of other questions about removing stains from toilets and where to buy verjus in Doncaster. Perhaps I should have seen that the end was nigh. At every previous redesign it has clung on, to my amazement and relief, and it is by a very long way the longest running column in the magazine. I got it within months of turning freelance and it really marked the start of something. So it’s been a little thing in the magazine but a big deal to me.
It isn’t a bad turn of events though. It was time, I think. I will still be in the magazine every week doing tips, and I have a spanking new features contract, plus I get to tout my wares to other papers, which is exciting if terrifying.
And I like the timing of it, I like the fact that, at the age of 37 I’m being propelled out of what has been a pretty easy, cosy gig into a new and challenging time, and that I can listen to that song with pity and understanding, but not recognition. Boredom is not an option. I haven’t actually driven a sports car through Paris with the warm wind in my hair, but I’m not about to rule that out just yet.
* Pity plug: you can buy the book of a collection of the columns here