Harriet Walker: There are good things about turning 28. "You'll stop being mental," said my boss



It was my birthday last weekend, which means a certain amount of time has passed since it was last my birthday.

I'm not going to whinge about my age, because that incurs the wrath, fury and exasperation of people older than me, and the pity of young bucks who have not yet reached the not-really-a-milestone of 28. (Just you wait, young bucks, just you bucking well wait.)

"Twenty-eight is the best year!" trilled several work colleagues. "It really is the best, because 27 was terrible for me, and then 29 feels like the end of the world. Twenty-eight was the tops!"

As I recall, 19 was pretty good. Nineteen is the age I think I am in my head, which has baffled me in the past when I've failed to enjoy going to terrible nightclubs, talking to men who bore me or been unable to button up my denim hotpants. And also every so often when teenagers on public transport fail to return my "We're all in together" shrugs, or to even clock my existence, and I realise I am, to them, at least, in their first flush of social tadpoling, a wizened old crone. Except I'm not even that. Because I'm not even in their field of vision, like the opposite of those notes that only dogs can hear, but visually.

Actually, 27 was pretty good, too; 26 was awful; and at 25 I was really fat. Don't worry, that isn't going to be how the rest of this column goes.

At 28, I have the following things to look forward to, apparently – and these are all mined from what my elders have said: 1) I will no longer be able to tolerate alcohol in measures larger than a thimbleful, because of hangovers that resemble Dantean hell. Which is just as well, because, 2) I'll no longer crave alcohol in the amounts (biblical) I did when I was 27 or 26. Especially 26.

3) I will no longer be able to eat anything that tastes nice without noticing an immediate increase in my girth or how much my bum sticks out as if it has a mind of its own – which it does, according to 4) a phenomenon whereby I will suddenly notice something resting on the back of my legs before realising it's my own arse. (I've already noticed this, actually. At first, I thought I was being molested by a third party on my way to the bus stop.)

But enough of this; there are good things, too, I'm told. "You'll stop being mental," said my boss. "You'll just [mimes flicking a switch] and dah-DAH! You're not mental any more."

This can't come quickly enough as far as I'm concerned. I've had it up to here with being governed by neuroses in the same way a puppetmaster controls his characters, except the strings connecting me to them are all made of deep-seated jangles.

"It's true," someone else offered across the desk. "Annoying people won't even annoy you any more." (It is nice having a relatively new job where people don't know you well enough and assume you're as easygoing as a normal person when it comes to what annoys you.)

For me, the weird thing about getting older is not that I worry about what I will become (essence of dust), but what I will no longer be: box-fresh with a guarantee if I become faulty, with all my factory settings intact.

But where's the fun in being a blank slate, even if you do have optimum functionality? It's like Keats said: life can be a bit rubbish sometimes, but you need to have really felt like detritus so that you can fully appreciate those rare times when you feel the absolute tops. That was him, right?

I'm trying not to mourn not being quite as hot-off-the-production-line and glitch-free, because I'd rather focus on what those glitches have made me into. Just as silver, when it is scratched or bashed, doesn't look any worse for the wear and tear, but rather shines from new angles, assuming a new aspect. (I'm not talking about wrinkles, obviously – I'm as terrified as the next vain person about those.)

The other thing I realised on my birthday is that I should stop putting things off until there is an ideal moment in which to do them. I realised this as I finished a third cocktail before 2pm, having made the least of the sunshine and by now feeling a bit sleepy. As I went home for a mid-afternoon nap (old, you see), I thought, "I mustn't let the beauty of every day pass me by, in anticipation of better things to come."

I didn't make it out to the cinema that night, either.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before