Ulrika has it. William and Nicola do not. Welcome to Middle Youth

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The Independent Online
It is 6am on Sunday morning and two people are leaving the Cross night-club in north London. One is 35 and one is 33. They have been up all night dancing. After a few hours' sleep they go to a garden centre. The are living the life of the Middle Youth.

Middle Youth is the latest name tag coined by the people that brought us Yuppies and Sloane Rangers - the marketing men who are paid to spot demographic niches and exploit them.

For the Nineties they have identified a new kind of consumer, greying groovers who refuse to grow old gracefully; people from their late twenties to their early forties who cling to the trappings of youth. These are people with a concern about fashion, a wild social life and an up-to-date record collection but who are at the same time old enough to have a nice house, a garden, children and responsibilities.

They exist thanks to better careers for women, couples having children much later in life and the fact that "youth culture" and all its trappings is the dominant cultural form of the Nineties.

In this case Middle Youth is the target market of Red, a new magazine from the publishers Emap Elan which launches in January. It is aimed at women who have grown out of Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan but who feel too young, or too trendy, to buy their mothers' Good Housekeeping.

"Only 10 years ago, anyone who was reaching 40 was considered middle- aged," says Kath Brown, the 33-year old Australian editor of Red. "We reject this - we don't have to get older any more. There is a whole new generation of women in their thirties who still have a very youthful attitude. But they still have very broad interests like gardening or food."

The apogee of the Middle Youth woman is the one picking up her children from school with Radiohead blaring from the car stereo.

But not anyone can have Middle Youth. It is more an attitude thing than an age thing. William Hague, 36, unmarried and childless is too old to be middle youth. However Jonathan Ross, also 36, despite being married with children is Middle Youth. Think about it, which one would look ridiculous in a velvet suit?

The concept of refusing to grow old is by no means new. The upper limit of Middle Youth is defined by those who are Baby-Boomers. Baby-Boomers were born in the years after the Second World War and were student radicals in the Sixties. They have been unwilling to give up their Levi's and their Rolling Stones and are a powerful economic and political force. They have their own saxophone-playing world leader in Bill Clinton and a booming market in low-fat foods and plastic surgery to keep them looking young.

The difference is that a Dire Straits album lurks in the record collection of every Baby-Boomer, while every Middle Youth has the mellow "trip hop" of Portishead in their Ikea CD rack.

The problem for Red, is that refusing to grow up is much more a male trait than a female one. Men are the ones who swap their wife and children for a pair of leather trousers, a pony tail and a cocaine habit when they hit 40.

Ulrika Jonsson and Paula Yates might be high-profile examples of Middle Youth, but they have the benefits of celebrity and funds to keep childcare worries and wrinkles at bay. It could be that hard-working, rather than hard-partying, women such as Nicola Horlick are more the norm for women in Red's age-group.

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