It was after I got out of the car some weeks ago that it dawned on me.
Suddenly, imperceptibly, bewilderingly, I had turned middle-aged. I had made a conscious choice to tune the car radio to Radio 2, and that was it: I had made a seamless transition to another stage in my life. Somehow I found myself being entertained by Ken Bruce - Who wouldn't be, you may ask? He's one of the best broadcasters in Britain - and discovering the unchallenging choice of music was just what was required as I eased into the day.
According to a new survey of 2,000 adults, listening to Radio 2 is one of the tell-tale signs of middle age. I'm not, however, a complete write-off just yet. I've never been on a cruise, listened (willingly) to the Archers, joined the National Trust or bought a sports car. On the other hand, it's true that I don't like noisy pubs, a good deal of my spare time is spent looking for my glasses and I'm partial to an afternoon nap. And now, l am familiar with the Radio 2 schedule. Not only that, but my evenings now end not with a sing-song round the piano accompanied by a host of new best friends, but with a cup of peppermint tea and a cryptic crossword.
Yet despite all these indications that I am now in the waiting room for a much more scary destination - old age - I agree with a friend who said that, however old you are, you only ever feel one age. In his case, it's 18. I imagine I'm still in my thirties. In fact, one of the more interesting aspects of this survey was that half the respondents believed there was no such thing as being middle aged. It is an outdated concept that doesn't take into account greater life expectancy and more healthy lifestyles that keep people feeling younger for longer.
Eight in ten of those surveyed believed that the state of middle-age was much harder to define, identifiable by a state of mind rather than physical decay. All I know is that, when I was in my twenties, I'd look at someone in his fifties and think he was really, really old. Do my daughter and her friends think the same about me? Of course not. Why would they? I'm cool. I know all the jargon (I use words like "random" and "totally" more regularly than I should). I understand social media (up to a point). I know what LOL means (one up on the PM, at least). And I can talk with some knowledge about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll (well, two out of three ain't bad). But maybe I am in denial. Perhaps we all are, we of a certain age (let's just say over 50), believIng what the marketing men have told us all these years. We can still be attractive, we can be desirable, we are...forever young.