Words From The Wise

Look after your boobs, avoid the bow ties and get some perspective on cellulite. As she nears 50, Debra Brock has a 14-step plan for regret-free ageing


age_50_badge-rfcd6e1f2954548448af7f63e9e28deab_x7j3i_8byvr_324Every so often I’ll flick idly through a weekend supplement and stumble across a piece called something like ‘Things I’ve Learned’ or ‘This I Know’. I read them and think: well, that’s very interesting, person-off-the-telly, but what about what us, the muggles? I’ve been on this planet not far shy of fifty years, and hopefully I’ve got many more years here and many more things to learn. But I reckon I’ve tucked a few life lessons under my belt along the way, and as no weekend supplement will be asking me to share them any time soon, I’m sharing them here. Some of them might be a bit, er, niche.


1. Get anything unusual about your eyes, fanny or boobs checked out. God bless the wondrous NHS, which we definitely don’t want to overburden with endless visits about random self-limiting minor schizzle, but if anything looks up with your peepers or women-parts, get it checked.


2. Throw the sodding chipped mug away. It’ll catch your lip awkwardly every time you drink out of it, and make you do a tiny internal sigh each time you get it out of the cupboard. Life is tough enough without chipped mugs making you feel sad.


88389543199023. Use all the glittery eyeshadow now, while you can get away with it. This is a sister piece of advice to Nora Ephron’s advice on bikinis,  but for God’s sake pile on the really sparkly stuff if you’re in your twenties and thirties. It looks like shit on more experienced crinkly eyelids.


4. Men wearing a bow tie during the day are giving you a handy visual clue. I can’t for the life of me understand why they make this style decision. Do they think it’s quirky? Or that it makes them look learned or a whacky, characterful soul? I’m afraid it’s a no to both, but in any case thumbs up for making it easy to work out who to avoid.


5. Learn something new every year. If I had just one life mantra it would be this. Over the years I’ve learned foreign languages, done a floristry course, taught myself WordPress and Photoshop and had a brief foray into graphic design. I’m on an Open University binge at the moment, doing Maths last year and Psychology this year. It makes me really happy to learn new stuff and I’ve met some bloody brilliant people this way. These days there’s masses of instruction available on the internet, for free, on pretty much anything you can think of. Try iTunes U for a start.


normal_velvet-underground-eye-test-canvas-print6. Put body cream on. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you don’t do this in Winter you’ll wake up one morning with spontaneously tight-to-bursting lizard shins that were absolutely fine the day before.


7. Don’t stand for shit service but make sure you dole the praise out when it’s due. If the sales assistants are ignoring you, feel free to borrow this tactic from my mother-in-law: ask them what their name is and then very politely tell them you’ll be recommending them for retraining. Trust me, this gets way easier with age. But conversely, when someone does something amazing (I’m looking at you, Amalie from Bobbi Brown and your brilliant make up artistry skills that made me feel like a million dollars), make sure they bloody know about it.


8. Drinking port never ends well. You’ll have the hangover from hell tomorrow and look like a toddler has given you a berry lipstick makeover.


9. Any book that promises Quick and Simple Children’s Birthday Cakes is full of lies. Especially the tank and the dinosaur cakes. They’ll turn out like a splodgy green hillock and a bilious gekko.


10. Cellulite cream never, ever works. Save your cash. Truly. I splashed big money on a super-spendy lotion in my twenties that claimed to stimulate fat loss with caffeine. The only thing it did was dye my legs an unrealistic and streaky shade of brown. It was effectively Camp Coffee in a tiny luxe bottle. There have been some truly stunning innovations in product efficacy over the years, but cellulite creams haven’t boarded that train yet. (Also: I laugh at how much cellulite I had in my twenties now).


11. Set your target steps on your Fitbit really low, then the app will tell you every day that you’re an Overachiever. Take the small victories where you can get them.


12. Don’t book a food delivery for Christmas Eve if you have family coming. Even Waitrose will occasionally forget to put the sodding turkey on the van, precipitating an emergency dash to every supermarket in town, where you’ll stare at the battery chicken breasts and think: should I take these as a banker or leave them and try and get a proper turkey elsewhere? Then you’ll buy all the Baileys and come home in tears with a packet of frozen Twizzlers.


13. It doesn’t matter how cool you think you are, your teens will still think you’re the uncoolest person on the planet. Sorry. This is an immutable law of nature, like gravity, that you cannot override. It can be a useful bargaining chip though, as in: “You tidy your room and I won’t do the Mobot the next time you and your friends go past on the school bus.”.


14. Work out who your mates are and look after them. We all need a variety of friends in our lives: the ones who’ll come with you to see Twilight at the cinema and bring their teen daughter so you don’t look like a pair of weirdos, the ones you have cocktails with, the ones that post the funny stuff on Facebook rather than endless photos of their child as “Star of the Week”. But most of all you need at least one friend who, when you pick up the phone and say “please come”, will drop everything.



Velvet Underground eye chart from notonthehighstreet.com

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  • Nic

    Loved this, but disagree violently about Port.

  • LaetitiaMcP

    Top tips – all true. And getting violent about the Port is not the answer @disqus_DafbL4UPEw:disqus 😉

    • Debra Brock

      Violence is never the answer *stares at Nic*

  • Nicola Paterson

    Marvellous piece. I snorted with laughter, cheers for that. Viva la Brock!

    • Debra Brock

      Thank you x

  • Goldie

    Love it, thanks for the wisdom Deb

  • SailingLass

    Start using Clarins bust gel in your twenties. Use it every day. When you are 50, your boobs won’t be. Seriously!

  • Jodie Wright

    I disagree with getting annoyed at shop assistants. If they’re ignoring you it’s because they hate their shitty minimum wage job and they’re fantasising about being anywhere but there. Maybe it’s a different story if you’re talking about people who work on make up counters in fancy department stores who work for commission and should therefore make more of an effort.

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