Life's always unpredictable and preparing to trip us up

And lo, I am 40! Obviously, my life is therefore sorted.

Saturday, 14th January 2017, 6:01 am
Simon Callow

I awoke on my birthday to find that I have 10 squillion ISAs all bursting at their financial seams, my pension is full, early retirement plans are in place and the children have savings accounts ready for university.

Or that’s how I imagined 40 would be when I was 20.

Or rather, how I would have assumed it would be, if I had even known what an ISA or a pension was when I was 20.

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Instead, I now know that no matter how old or young one is, life is presumably never sorted.

By its very nature, life is unpredictable and preparing continually to trip us up and surprise us.

We can only hope that there will be a decent ratio between the misery and the joy.

January is an odd time of year to have a birthday, as anyone out there who is reading this and whose birthday falls just after Christmas will know.

If yours happens to fall within the first week or so after the C-word, then it’s doubtful that anybody wants to go out or celebrate with you.

Nobody has any money left after Christmas.

Everybody is now on a diet and doing Dry January and the sky is usually the same colour as my children’s white school socks come July.

However, take heart if this is you and you’re 39 or below.

It transpires that when you’re 40, everybody celebrates your birthday!

In fact, they are only too happy to remind you of it and to fill your Facebook wall with messages of decrepitude and commiseration.

Joking aside, my 40th birthday has been my favourite thus far.

And not simply because of the high level of spoiling from all friends and family.

But also because it’s another era of life – and aren’t we all fortunate to be given any number of those?

My children are too young to grasp why ‘40’ has any significance, but did make up a song in my ancient honour. ‘Mummy will be 40, she is so old.’

Cheers, kids.


Another recommendation comes in the way of the Arts Theatre in London’s West End.

For the third time since 2011, Simon Callow has performed a one-man rendition of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.

The theatre is intimate and perfectly-formed, providing an excellent venue for this kind of performance.

Callow was utterly spellbinding as he told the tale by candlelight, firelight, fairylight and with theatrical perfection.

If Callow does another run of this in future years, then it is an absolute must-see if this kind of thing is up your entertainment street.

And for the avoidance of doubt, it’s definitely Simon Callow and not The X Factor judge Simon Cowell who is performing...


My husband took me for afternoon tea at The Ritz as part of my 40th celebrations and I can confirm that it was worth the expenditure.

As anyone who’s been there will know, the loo alone is a sight to behold.

Or, should I say, ‘powder room’.

If you are considering doing this for a family member, then book well in advance and bear in mind that you can also request a personalised birthday cake for the lucky recipient.

This will be delivered to your table, complete with candle and Happy Birthday being played by the harpist in the corner.

I kid you not.

You will have a choice of 18 teas, an unending supply of cakes and need of an elasticated waistband.