Out of Time – Miranda Sawyer
I’ll start this by saying that I love Miranda Sawyer. No, I really do. She’s a great journalist and I’ve always thought she’s like this über cool girl, the one you’d want to hang out with at school because you know she’d be a right laugh, and you’d both sneak off for fags and a bit of a skive (*caveat – I am not that person now).
I’ll also start this by saying if you’re under 40, you may as well skip this post because you’re unlikely to be there yet (although Sawyer argues that some people hit their own midlife crisis in their 20s) Her book is about her personal mid-life crisis, so as I’m in the thralls of my own one, I thought it was serendipitous that she released this and immediately pre-ordered it. As much as anything I was seeking a bit of a laugh, a wry look at why I’m now having to carry out a mutton test on every outfit is a bit of a jolt.
In my head I’m still about 23. I remember my granny saying this and thinking “yeah right”. But. Oh. I now totally get it.
The strap-line to Out of Time is “Midlife if you still think you’re young”. That’s me. So I threw myself into this book. Initially I was surprised slightly by it’s tone – it’s actually quite serious. She still tells some great anecdotes and it’s full of nodding along passages of stuff that I recognise. There were the parts about dads living out their failed football dreams through their 7 year olds that had me shouting yes yes yes and sending the passages to my husband and anyone else who knows me pretty much. So well observed and something we’ve muttered ourselves on the touch line when at times the behaviour of some of the parents and coaches has genuinely shocked my husband and I.
There’s some discussion in the book about how mid-life crisis’ used to be the reserve of the men folk but how this has changed for a number of reasons. We’re all trying to cling on to our youth whether it’s through Botox or expensive push bikes or excessive exercise regimes. Must prove we’ve still got it. Must prove we’re still relevant. How the middle aged regret not realising their dreams but are not yet old enough to be the wiser older family member. Her passage about how our bodies change had me laughing and close to tears at the same time, such was my recognition, right down to how a bag of sweets gives you palpitations and eating a 3 course meal makes you feel you might die.
She finishes the book on an upbeat tone, with a kind of manifesto for taking things forward. Stressing all the way along that this isn’t a self help book, I’d agree with that, but it’s a helpful book to have read, to sort the clumsy thoughts that have been swirling in my head recently. And to know that what I’ve been feeling is pretty normal too. So I’m normalish. I like Sawyer’s analogy of her life as a chess board. And the pieces are waiting for her to move them. Life goes on and there’s still loads to do. I like that message.
Still loads to do.
Out of Time – Miranda Sawyer, 4th Estate