Sometime during November 1998, at the fast approaching age of forty, I found my first wrinkle. Well, it probably wasn’t my very first one, I had lots of little ‘smiley’ ones that I kidded myself came from being eternally happy, cheerful and upbeat.

No, this was a huge, indented, massive, full-on, real life, old-age, feck off wrinkle, right smack-bang in the middle of my forehead.

I frantically mixed two different types of foundation together and smeared it on, but to no avail, it stubbornly remained. Adding a little bit of plain flour helped enormously to fill in the indentation, the gluey mess dried to perfection bringing back my smooth, unlined forehead…. until I raised an eyebrow in surprise at the price of a tin of beans in Morrisons. Then it all went to hell in a handbag as my cheap version of aesthetic filler started to peel away. By the time I got to the checkout it had dropped down to hang tantalisingly from the tip of my nose. I feigned ignorance and carried on packing my bags whilst the cashiers eyes darted from side to side, watching my accidental fake booger swing like a metronome.

In sheer desperation and a desire to hold back the years, I then resorted to cutting in a fringe. It wasn’t as crap as the one my mum gave me in 1962 when she plonked my Nan’s ceramic pudding bowl on my head and cut around it, but it came a close second. As more little (and big wrinkles) appeared over the following years, my fringe was pulled, yanked, sprayed and arranged in various combinations to cover each new one. The downside was it now also covered my eyes which in turn caused frequent visits to A&E from falling over the cat or missing the top step on the stairs, catapulting me headfirst into the console table at the bottom.

Another nod to the ageing process was the realisation that gravity can be seriously challenged in the bedroom – and it’s not just the jelly belly or droopy nellies that fall foul of it. Taking down the large mirror from the bedroom wall for a spring clean, I chucked it onto the bed and set about giving it a vigorous polish. Leaning over it, giving it more welly than was really necessary, I sang along to Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. As my eyes focused on my own reflection, I was horrified to see my jowls droop forward and start to swing and wobble in time to Gloria’s dulcet tones.

Oh for crying out loud, my poor hubby! How on earth had he kept a straight face when I’d been erotically flinging myself around on top of him in our bed every weekend whilst my saggy bits had slapped him across the chops or almost poked his eye out….

Mortified, I decided the Missionary position would be the only thing on the menu in future so everything that now hung and draped across the silvered glass could be tucked behind my ears or under the pillow.  Well, it was that or turn the bloody lights off!

I really did try to accept and welcome growing old, even though it was costing me a small fortune buying every new anti-wrinkle cream that came to the market.

Receiving an invitation to a particularly exclusive up-market dinner party, I began my usual routine of agonising over what I should wear, wailing over the extra pounds I’d added to my waistline and horror of horrors, my baggy, wrinkled panda eyes, courtesy of shift work. Desperate to make a good impression for hubby and my fellow guests, I was excitedly first in the queue at the chemists the following morning for the much heralded Bright Eyes that promised to smooth eye bags and wrinkles and which had earned a coveted 5* review in the local Gazette. Maybe the solitary review should have set alarm bells ringing, but hell, I was desperate and past caring.  I parted with my hard earned cash and ran all the way home, the paper bag containing my spoils clutched in my hot sweaty hand as it slapped rhythmically against my chunky left thigh. I couldn’t wait to look young again.

Utilising a magnifying glass to read the ridiculously tiny print on the instructions, I patted, slapped and smeared my Bright Eyes as directed and then waited, wafting my hands manically trying to speed up the drying process….

….five minutes later – voila!

I wanted to cry with joy.  Err okay, bit of an overreaction there, maybe just holler a little. It had knocked years off me. Bright Eyes! Mine were positively headlamps on an HGV.

I was over the moon as I sashayed out to the taxi, turning my face to the streetlamp for illumination in the hope that Bert the driver would notice the years falling away from me.
Arriving at Thornton Hall, my confidence knew no bounds as I took my seat at the long table set for forty guest. I laughed, giggled, smiled and chatted animatedly, amazed that a 15ml tube of liquid could make such a difference to how I felt about myself.

We had barely finished the main course, me being in full swing regaling everyone with what I thought was a fabulously funny story, when my OH frantically began pointing at me from across the table. I waved back and blew him a kiss, quietly mouthing ‘laters’… before returning to my tale.  Not to be deterred he tried again, but this time he was joined by the rather gorgeous young brunette who was sitting beside him.  She was so young she probably wouldn’t have to resort to drooling over a tube of Bright Eyes for at least another twenty-years.   Her look was one of horror mixed with pity as she pointed at my face.

“You’re eyes..!” she hissed, handing me a small compact mirror.

Chuffed that she had noticed, I preened openly, wondering if I should let her, and the other six guests who were now also taking an active interest in me, into my secret.  I clicked the compact open ready to admire my new found youth.  The seconds felt like hours as I examined my reflection. I sat there, mouth open, frozen to my seat desperately wishing the ground would open up and devour me.

Flakey chunks of ‘Skin’ hung in strips onto my cheeks and a crackle glaze of what looked like dried egg white spread outwards from both eyes.

I couldn’t believe it, over the course of two hours I had morphed into an extra from The Night of the Living Dead.

It slowly dawned on me that if I hadn’t been so crap at French in school, the addendum on the instructions ‘éviter les expressions faciales excessives ou l’effritement se produira’, would have warned me that smiling, laughing, smirking, gurning or any other aspects of facial animation were detrimental to the temporary effect of Bright Eyes, particularly when you’d smeared it on with a trowel.

”You’re sort of falling apart…” Ms Brunette helpfully offered.

“Err – no shit Sherlock..” I mumbled as I staggered off to the ladies loos, to a back drop of sniggers and snorts of barely suppressed laughter.

So now, as I fast approach my 62nd birthday, I can look back and laugh at the ridiculous efforts and ordeals I put myself through over the years, I even sometimes wish I was as wrinkly as what I thought I was when I thought I was wrinkly!  I try to forget the period in my life when I actually paid for the pleasure of electrocuting myself with GENIE treatments. Lying in the beauty clinic whilst my facial muscles took on a life of their own, sending my tooth fillings into hyper sensitivity and making the remaining hair in my sparse eyebrows stand on end, I would console myself that it was worth it for the 24 hours of lifting and toning I would get before it all dramatically dropped south again, normally whilst I was standing in the queue at the local chippy.

Asking for  “Chips…. oops shit…”  (brief pause whilst I tucked my suddenly slack jowls and wattle back into my turtle neck sweater)  “…. and curry, please.” made me a firm favourite amongst the local kids buying fish-bits who kindly nicknamed me ‘Theresa Tortoise’.

My eldest granddaughter, Olivia invented the word ‘prinkle’ when she was three years old to describe my facial lines.

I love that word.

I love it because she gave it to me, I love it because I’ve earned my prinkles, I love it because my prinkles mean I am living a life that is often sadly denied to so many who have not been blessed to reach an older age, an age that is long enough for them to earn their wrinkles.

My face prinkles because I laugh, it prinkles because when I talk, I’m very animated, it prinkles because I have the heart to cry, it prinkles because I pull faces to make my granddaughters laugh.

It’s a face that is well lived and to be honest, if all else fails…..

…… there’s always Snapchat filters, I’m sure I’d look a right doozy with a cute rabbit nose, spider eyelashes and dilated pupils!

Have a great weekend everyone, I’m off to practice my pout….

Gina x

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong ©️ 2017

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot – The Further Adventures of Constable Mavis Upton ©️ 2018

Blues, Twos and Baby Shoes ©️2019