Columnist Maggie Cooper
Columnist Maggie Cooper

‘I’d rather be over the hill than under it’

I CELEBRATED (in a manner of speaking) a birthday last week. It wasn’t a significant one, apart from the fact that next year’s is a very significant one – this birthday was the last before I move on to a new personal decade. Gulp.

I stopped throwing parties (or expecting friends to throw them for me) when I turned 39. The thought of replacing that three with a four horrified me at the time. Now, of course, I’d be thrilled to bits.

I know all about the old sayings. I’d rather be over the hill than under it. And so on. But I do tend to pause for refection at this time; to look back on what I achieved in the past 10 years, and what I hope to achieve in the next (should I be lucky enough to make it in reasonable health).

The fact that my son was born in the same week (albeit several decade later) as I, means I have an obvious way of measuring the sand running through my hourglass. We got together as we always do at this time of year, but this time, due to study commitments, his wife couldn’t make it. So it was just the two of us alone together for the first time in about 15 years. It was quite poignant; while he is a very talented cook himself, he asked for (and was given) several of his favourite childhood meals in the course of the weekend. In fact, he confided that at work a few weeks ago, when a lunchtime discussion turned to the topic of what you would choose for your last meal if you could, he nominated his mum’s veal parmigiana, a dish I’d been cooking for years before “parmies” became a staple on every pub menu.

Another way I have of keeping track of my birthday is the plethora of congratulatory emails and offers I get from the various loyalty clubs I’ve joined over the years. I mostly don’t sign up now; the irritation I feel at the avalanche of marketing emails usually far outweighs the modest benefits of belonging to such clubs. I received about 10 gift vouchers for piddling amounts, all of which had to be used in conjunction with a purchase for a certain amount. Thus, I would have scored a $10 discount off a $200 item I wouldn’t have bought had I not received the voucher. Odd economics, really.

But the one I quite liked the idea of redeeming was the free birthday cake from IKEA. That is, of course, until I realised I’d have to bake it myself. And one of the ingredients would no doubt be missing.



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