Hester Lacey hears other midlife views
DEBORAH MOGGACH, novelist, 48: I certainly don't feel old - I don't feel 48. I've always felt 10 years younger, and often when I'm talking to someone I presume we've got shared memories, then I realise they're only 31. It was wonderful being young in the Sixties, because one's own natural rebelliousness was mirrored and augmented by what was happening in the world - it was very fertile soil to grow from. I feel sorry for kids now, growing up in such a brutish and disillusioned world. You have to bite back the urge to tell the younger generation how great it was.

JIBBY BEANE (left), art gallery owner, 55: I was modelling in the Sixties and it was a wonderful time, an exciting time, but I don't look back, I look forward. You just have to do away with conditioning. Middle age is just a silly label. It's all about attitude and zest for life. People try to intellectualise about age but it's rubbish, frankly. Life is about being inspired and inspiring, everything is possible. The thing is to concentrate on the here and now.

SCARLETT MccGWIRE, writer, 43: Yes, I remember how we all said "What- will-I-do-when-I'm-30-I-might-as-well-be-dead" but in fact we didn't get old - if it's verve for life you're talking about. We've all done marvellous things with our lives. You don't have to be middle-aged and respectable - I don't feel old at all. Older women can take things on their own terms - it's very nice that there's nothing I can't do but there are things I don't have to do because I don't want to. I think the Sixties began things with a bang, but I don't think the attitude of the time ever went away. As for age - there is an incredible age gap between my parents and me, far larger than the one between me and my children.

SOPHIE MIRMAN (right), businesswoman, 40: It depends on your state of mind - you're as old as you let yourself feel. I don't consider myself old, but if you let yourself think you're old at 40 then you probably are. I don't consider my mother as old, and she's in her 80s. In the same way I never found it a problem being a woman in business, being 30 or 35 or 40 is no different.

DEBORAH LAXTON, businesswoman, 46: If anyone had told me when I was 18 that I'd start my own company I wouldn't have believed it. At least it's hairdressing, which I suppose is quite a Sixties thing, not like arms dealing or anything. I don't feel as though I've sold out; even ex- flower-children have to eat. I don't feel old, either, it's all relative.