LEAVING your twenties behind is like waving off guests after a long stay.
You love them dearly, you’ve made great memories together but you’re also quite glad to see the back of them.
I turned 30 last week and the sheer relief made my face sag.
In your 20s there arehigh hopes - that you will achieve marvellous unthinkable things as you surf out of the fresh-faced teen years and into the first flurries of adulthood.
You could, technically, be anything, which is very off-putting.
I had a lot of good times in my twenties, none of which I will bore you with, and I certainly didn’t sit in a dark room crying, but it took me ages to realise that’s the best you can hope for.
The whole decade was undermined by the thought that I should have been travelling, writing books, building a business or qualifying for some difficult sporting event.
Which was a bust really, given the cold facts. I’m a home bird, have the business sense of a bantam hen and am slightly asthmatic, partially crooked and very lazy.
And I love reading books, but writing them? Ugh, I’d rather eat baby birds than have to structure a plot.
Fortunately, with every passing year, my expectations have fallen [along with those of others] and happiness has billowed up like a soufflé.
It seems the real treat of growing older is to give up on pretence and do as you jolly well please.
Which for me, included waking up the house at 3am to ask if it was too early to open my presents.
At a more respectable hour, as I divorced the wrapping paper from its contents, I felt acceptance settle on me like a thick syrupy topping.
With the gifts organised into a neat display in the living room for everyone to oooh and ahhh at, and the horses seen to, I celebrated in style.
Champagne and skydiving?
No, lying on the sofa with the bf, drinking tea and watching telly while the weather raged outside.
The next night we had a family party, and my young nephew helped me blow out the candles, three times.
We played pick up sticks, Lego and Snap with his woodland animals cards.
It was soothing and easy, apart from Snap, which I played with my brother, the cunning mastermind.
Don’t think I’m being smug though, the milestone wasn’t without a hint of existential panic.
The day after, I felt a stab of woe.
“I am in the autumn of my life,” I thought, “and soon I will be dead.”
But I decided this had come about only because the presents had dried up and I had to return to work.
Then I thought of 60-something Anita Pallenberg [one-time honourary member of the Rolling Stones] cycling gleefully to her Chiswick allotment.
Whenever I fear getting older I think of Anita and the fear dries up like spilled milk under a sheet of kitchen roll.