Glad that I’m experiencing the ‘Gary Barlow effect’

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Last weekend proved to me that the older I get, the happier I get. Some men see this as the ‘Gary Barlow effect’.

Gary never looked comfortable in his teens or 20s. He looked awkward in the original version of Take That and was dubbed ‘the fat one with the talent’.

Boy how things have changed. He’s hit his 40s and has come into his own. Gary is now more handsome, seems very comfortable in himself and looks very stylish. Let’s just say the opposite has happened to Robbie Williams.

The ‘Gary Barlow effect’ is also happening to me. I’m far happier now it’s acceptable for me to shop at M&S rather than River Island.

I’m also more confident in myself and, not wishing to sound vain, but I’ve been told that the older I get the more handsome I get!

So how did I realise this? Well, it was during a weekend in France, travelling by ferry from Portsmouth.

Fifteen years ago I hosted my first of many ‘booze cruises’ on P&O’s Pride of Bilbao.

Being in my 20s, I should have loved the all-night drinking, the banging party tunes, the wild games and the chasing of ladies. But no, I hated it!

I couldn’t see the attraction of drinking on a ferry until 7am, then heading to the hypermarket for more beer, then drinking all the way back to Pompey.

Not only did the people who did that look a real mess, but there was the smell of booze. And I’m not just talking about the men.

In the end P&O stopped these trips because of the amount of trouble on board and the damage inflicted to the ship by drunken idiots wrecking cabins.

But this latest cruise to France was so much more civilised. The Brittany Ferries flagship Pont Aven is more like a cruise ship, with a proper promenade deck, swimming pool, atrium with glass lifts and a mezzanine bar area.

After an a la carte meal and a boogie at the disco, a cracking day exploring France was had before returning home on the overnight service.

As the ship’s gentle pitching in a near-gale sent me off to sleep, I thought if this is what life is like getting older, bring on 40.