Liz Hoggard: Some day the good times will stop rolling...

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The Independent Online

Fortysomethings are the most privileged generation in history. We get to visit theatres and restaurants far more than our parents ever did. We won't give up dressing youthfully. We have our own teeth (even if they didn't discover fluoride in time to prevent fillings). The haircuts are better. Ditto the holidays. Some of us are coupled up, some of us are newly single. But this is the best time of our lives. Whisper it to the twentysomethings but youth can be over-rated.

We don't even have to retire at 65. This week Equalities Minister Harriet Harman proposed a reform of employment rights, which may see us carrying on in our jobs into our eighties. Under a "fast-track" government review of the retirement age, employees would gain a legal right to ask to work part-time or from home.

Even older sex is looking pretty hot. Meryl Streep's role as a wife torn between her ex-husband and new lover in It's Complicated breaks some great taboos about dating in your seventh decade.

But what will happen when we are really, properly old? Where will we go? Who will look after us? After the desperate news story of two pensioners who froze to death, the ageing Class of 62 are feeling anxious.

In a recession where few of us have job security, will we be living an affluent sexed-up life (like Meryl) or something much darker and harder?

It's all right for the babyboomers with their paid-off mortgages (my 58-year-old friend says the winning words on internet dating sites are "index linked pension" – she's a fox for middle-aged men). But fortysomethings are completely at sea. We don't have policies or pensions.

Personally I'm happy to work for life (with a youthed-up byline pic!). What's not to like about reading people's books, reviewing their films? But obviously there will come a time when, delicately, I'm asked not to visit the office any more and frighten the children.

So where will people without a conventional 2.2 family live and congregate? None of the political parties seem committed to funding long-term social care. And I can't face the idea of torturing friends' children to bring round care parcels or administer bed baths.

Care homes cost an average of £35,000 a year for a bed. And yet last year 2,000 failed a basic MOT. Just ask Michael Parkinson, the NHS's "dignity ambassador", who was rightly furious about his mother's last months.

So it's no wonder that I spent Christmas with friends drawing up plans to sell our flats and buy an old folk's home together with sexy nurses and a pool when the day finally comes.

Helen has the swankiest flat so she gets the East Wing. Mark anticipates a husband may join him. God knows what my gritty Peckham maisonette will fetch, but I'm in.

It remains to be seen how spoiled fortysomethings will cope with communal living. "We got through three courses and the karaoke Singstar on Christmas Day without killing each other," Helen tells me confidently. "Just think of it as a dry run."

Remembering my nights (and afternoons) with Eric Rohmer

So farewell Eric Rohmer, the master of French arthouse, who died this week at the age of 89. Where will sensitive people on a date go now?

Rohmer's films were perfect fodder for those anxious early days of courtship. If you were tired of nightclubs and noisy gigs, you could just slip into a darkened cinema, armed with carrot cake and German-strength coffee, and share a sensual, unconsummated afternoon.

I can chart my bumpy love life to his films over the years. You felt he was on your side. 1985's The Green Ray was catnip for singletons who don't know who to go on holiday with after a relationship break-up. While the perfect couple in 1992's A Winter's Tale are cruelly separated after a whirlwind holiday romance (due to a mix-up of addresses).

Delicate, sly, radiant, his films are about the moment before things happen – and messy real life resumes. Plot is not his foremost concern. It's all about the dialogue. And great frocks (or bathing suits). Though as a friend of mind once muttered after emerging from a triple bill at London's Ritzy cinema: "A little Rohmer goes a long way."

The trick psychology of small-plate dining

How big is your dinner plate – 10in? 12in? According to a new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan (Penguin), to lose weight all we need to do is buy smaller plates and glasses: cut back two inches and you can reduce consumption by 22 per cent.

No wonder small-plate dining is the latest restaurant phenomenon. Instead of slogging through an expensive main course hunk of steak or swordfish, we're more likely to share a handful of dishes off the grazing menu – three exquisite scallops, or a plate of battered zucchini flowers.

Supersize bingeing is over. Go out for supper with a group of women, and you're bound to hear the same phrase: "Oh, I'll just have a small plate, thank you." The psychology of dinner plate size in a recession is fascinating. According to New York magazine, you can track the rise and fall of the economy by it (just like you can gauge prosperity by the length of women's skirts, or the popularity of red lipstick). In the nineties it was all towering piles; now we want sexy iPod-size portions.

But I'm sorry to puncture the myth – big girls like small plates precisely because it's trick psychology. We look like we're fragile creatures who don't know the meaning of greed, but actually we get to hoover up everybody else's starter.

* Love fashion, but loathe retouched images of teen models? 8A is the new bi-annual magazine for anyone who craves more grown-up representations. The brainchild of stylist Ann Shore and makeup artist Attracta Courtney, it's beautiful and bonkers. In Issue 1 (Imperfect Beauty), they ask eight leading male designers (including Paul Smith, John Rocha and Matthew Williamson) what femininity means to them. There's Warhol and Bailey and an interview with gallerist Maureen Paley. And Peaches Geldof is nowhere in sight.

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