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As the clock strikes midnight tonight I shall enter into a new era.

Tomorrow is my 50th birthday! There, I’ve said it, albeit I’ve just said it in my head as I sit here alone typing, but still the words have an odd effect on me.

A significant birthday is on the cards

A significant birthday is on the cards

I can’t really imagine myself uttering the words: ‘I’m fifty!’ to anyone, because I don’t feel anywhere near half a century. I expect it’s all downhill from here!

I first became aware of the advancement of age last year when I was filling in an online form and it took me ages to scroll down the list to find my year of birth, what’s going on, I thought? It didn’t used to take this long to find 1966!

Then, last week, I passed a policeman as I walked along the road and he was so young looking I found it quite alarming. Surely he shouldn’t even be out alone I asked myself?

Then I suddenly recalled that old saying about knowing you’re getting older when the policemen look younger.

And just to add insult to injury, a young man bumped into me in a supermarket yesterday and uttered the words: ‘Sorry Ma’am’.

Ma’am? I thought as I looked around the place, who exactly was he addressing, had the Queen just walked in? I put my outraged head on and was officially ‘Disgusted from Belfast’ as I continued around the store exclaiming; ‘Ma’am!’ to myself in sarcastic a tone as I could muster.

When I was younger, the oldest I ever imagined myself being was 30.

That back then was the cut off point for my age imagination and even that seemed ancient.

In my thirties I was the classic Bridget Jones singleton, desperately seeking Mr Right. He arrived when I was 39 and whisked me up the aisle with seconds to spare as my biological clock approached midnight, phew!

I remember writing a column about my 40th birthday for the News Letter. I had been married just a few months, and had recently found out I was pregnant with my first child. Smug didn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

I sat in the Belfast Castle over a celebratory dinner on my 40th, with my sparkly wedding and engagement rings catching the light on my finger, my handsome husband before me and one hand on my baby bump. I had finally ticked all the life boxes I imagined I should by that age and was self-satisfied beyond description.

Even then, 50 seemed like a lifetime away.

And now here it comes, I’m there and what have I learned in half a century? I’m afraid I have little to report on the deep and meaningful front, other than stuff happens and you just have to go with the flow.

I have experienced no great getting of wisdom. I feel no differently on the inside than I did in my twenties, though how I feel on the outside is another story.

The most distressing thing about ageing for me has been the failing eyesight.

I have to wear glasses to read everything now and I’m so forgetful I have to go on the obligatory glasses hunt to locate them before reading anything, that alone takes up much of my day.

Also, I can’t see very well to put on my make-up, this sometimes results in me looking like a cross between May McFetridge and Alice Cooper.

The one thing I do quite like about age though is the fact that I don’t care one jot about what anyone thinks of me. That has been the one pleasant surprise about maturing, I wish now I hadn’t spent so many years worrying about other’s opinions of me.

So far, I’ve not been on any great search for the meaning of life, though I have been conducting a lifelong search for a comfortable bra, but I no longer hold out much hope on that front.

So here I am facing a milestone birthday, supposedly older and wiser, which turns out to feel like the writer Robert Bault described: ‘Two things you discover when you’re older and wiser – you’re not actually any wiser, and behind the wrinkles, you’re not any older, either’.

In all honesty at 50 I have a lot to be thankful for, namely; a wonderful husband, an adorable son and my second book coming out in May (shameless plug!)

Fifty isn’t old … if you’re a tree!