Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

Let me tell you something: nature's a bitch, and she'll age you no matter what you try
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The Independent Online

Everywhere you turn, now, it is anti-ageing this and anti-ageing that, so I wondered if you might be interested in my own, rather different, age-accepting range, Oil of Cliché, developed for all those women who have fully tried to love the skin they're in, looked at it from all angles, and thought nope, no can do, you're having a laugh, the cellulite on that alone would make four Keira Knightleys, two Kate Winslets and a size 16 puffa coat (full length). As for the pores, you could lose a boot in any one of them. I know, I know, there is this thinking that if you keep after nature determinedly and doggedly enough you will attain the upper hand, but let me tell you something about nature: she's a bitch.

No matter what you do, what you spend, nature is going to pelt you with those seven signs of ageing: lines and wrinkles; uneven skin tone; pores to lose boots in; repeatedly saying "where's my other boot gone?"; a sudden pride in your lawn mower; and even, or so I have found, a weird, sudden passion for Radio Four's In Touch. Sometimes, I wish I couldn't see as well, so I could feel more like part of the gang, but who is to say I wouldn't like a dog that can work a cashpoint and plump up the sofa cushions before bed anyway? The seventh sign of ageing might be rambling on about things that have nothing to do with what you are meant to be talking about. If nature has really got it in for you, by the way, and lobs in an eighth, you may even wake up one day and find that your pores have actually swallowed your face. Still, I think you might be able to get a dog for that.

Now, Oil of Cliché, which has been developed by extremely scientific scientists who aren't just grey-haired actors in white coats, whatever anyone might say, contains secret *, patented ingredients that would, of course, knock your little socks off, if only you knew what they were. It's also been clinically proven in a clinic by people who go about clinically proving these things, or would have been if we hadn't got lost on the way to the clinic - do you think I don't want a guide dog? Sat nav you can pat! - but it's good and greasy all the same. However, what makes the Oil of Cliché range so different is that it absolutely guarantees to make no difference whatsoever. This means you pay the sort of money you would otherwise spend on such creams, but aren't disappointed when they don't work. In fact, I can honestly say we've yet to have a single disappointed customer! That is: 100 per cent of the women we would have tested it on had we not got lost on the way to the clinic said it made absolutely no difference to them, even though they were willing to pretend it had, just to justify the expense!

Indeed, just a few weeks ago I sold a pot of our Age Happens; That's Life; Get Over It serum to a lady who, when she returned recently for a new supply (false bottom; didn't last two minutes), well, I just couldn't get over the lack of difference in her. "Madam," I gasped. "You look almost exactly the same as last time I saw you. See, this product actually fulfills its promises!" She said it was the first time she had ever bought an expensive beauty product and not felt grotesquely cheated in some way, or that she had failed it by not being diligent or dogged enough because that's how you are made to feel, after all. I said: "Madam, if you don't come back in 10 years looking 10 years older I will eat my hat." I don't wear a hat, as it happens, but I do wear one of those white coats that make me look all doctorly even though I spent only half a day training at some beauty school off Bond street. I love my coat. It makes me feel so much less like a silly tart who happens to work behind a counter. At Oil of Cliché, we are trained to say all the usual things - "madam, that lipstick really suits you!" - plus: "Madam, the chances of you reversing the signs of ageing are actually up there with you ever reversing a tank up your arse, so you might as well buy this as anything else." This is why we insist that all Oil of Cliché staff do half a day, instead of the usual quarter.

Anyway, that lady was so thrilled by the way Oil of Cliché didn't let her down, that she purchased some other items from our range. Of course, we sell special, intensive creams for all those bits you've never even thought of before; not just the eye area, but also the bridge of your nose and a cream for your left temple and a separate cream for your right temple as your left and right temples have different needs entirely, madam, oh yes, and I should know because I wear a white coat and trained for half a day at a beauty school instead of the usual quarter. She said she would start with our Age-Accepting Non-Transforming Right Temple Gel and if she found it made no difference whatsoever, she would return for the left. As this particular product comes in a tiny little jar with very thick walls and a false bottom that is practically at the top, I'm fully expecting her back any minute now. And here she is. "Madam, you still don't look any more youthful. Not a jot!" Oil of Cliché. Because you're worth it, although possibly not quite as worth it as is a dog that can make a cup of tea and do your VAT returns. Now, that's really worth something.

(* Not suitable for anyone allergic to secret ingredients)