I’m in my thirties.
According to advertising this places me exactly halfway between a) larking about on snowboards while moodily clutching over-sized perfume bottles (my twenties), and b) joylessly shushing people in libraries, resplendent in tweed and Vagisil (my forties/the beginning of Ghostbusters).
What I’m finding, though, is that I’m enjoying my thirties far more than I’ve enjoyed any other age. My self-belief isn’t towering, but I’ve generally never felt so solid and self-reliant as I do now.
So here are three reasons why I am fine with my thirties (and for balance, three reasons I’m not):
1. Thirty isn’t the new twenty
Nor should it be. Look, I didn’t spend ten years pretending to learn how office equipment works – and mastering a culinary pinnacle two points higher than ‘toast’ – to be directly compared to someone whose childhood crush was someone who was famous three years ago. Plus, who’d want to be twenty again? I was an idiot when I was twenty. I cut my own hair and liked acid jazz unironically. On the other hand, skincare products have evolved to the point where now, if I meet someone, I genuinely can’t tell if they’re in their twenties, thirties, or forties. Which bodes well for my face but, I fear, ill for my wallet.
2. Wallander – the acceptable face of crime fiction
Watching Kenneth Branagh stump dejectedly around the bleak Swedish coast, all gentle social horror and open-plan living, is like browsing the Ikea catalogue and petting a grumpy, politically-aware puppy at the same time.
And Scandinavian crime dramas deliver satisfying whodunit thrills without the blue-rinse connotations of Midsomer Murders – because they’re edgy. I mean, Wallander swears and everything. It’s basically The Wire, but in an Arran jumper.
3. No more making do
No more sort-of-friends you see out of duty but who, for one reason or another, sap the living will out of you. No more unwashed, baggage-laden gentlemen with tortured souls and no spines. Less, generally, of the self-conscious sitting around and asking “why” and more of the just getting on and doing regardless. No more discordant live gigs where the toilets look like crime scenes and you keep getting beer slopped down your top. I am, to quote Danny Glover, too old for this sh*t. If I want to see a band live I can just wait until the band members get older and inevitably start playing more civilised sit-down venues.
I can do this. I’m in my thirties now. I play the long game.
What I don’t like about my thirties:
1. The gap between me and the elderly is closing
Although I still stoically shop at Top Shop, as the nights draw in even I hear the siren song of zip-up slipper-boots and mobility scooters. Also, policemen are getting younger, and have you seen teachers lately? In case you haven’t, let me assure you, they are all twelve.
2. I’ll never be a pop star
The nearest act I now have to a musical role model is Seasick Steve, which suggests that it may be time to face some uncomfortable truths about how many guitars I own.
3. I have no idea what the kids are saying
Or what they mean. I’ve only just got used to ‘hench’ and ‘nang’ and they went out of currency years ago. And what about ‘cray’? Is it a sort of bird?
Sometimes I feel a bit panicky about being in my thirties. I don’t feel old enough somehow, I’m still not that clear on who I am, or what I want, and occasionally I’ll worry that I may have unwittingly wasted the best years of my life already.
But then I remember:
a) what my mother said when I was fretting on my thirtieth birthday (“What do you know about your thirties? You’ve spent the last ten years being in your twenties”).
b) that I’m young enough to appreciate Azealia Banks, but old enough for ‘212’ to remind me of ‘Do the Bartman’:
(This first video is not safe for work, incidentally. Unless you work for a swear word factory)