Gina Davidson: Age-old saying has ring of truth

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LIFE begins at 40 – but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times. I’d love to lay claim to such a pithy remark.

I’d love to say that I uttered such wisdom and insight into the onset of ageing after I’d celebrated my 40th with too, too many tequilas. But I can’t. Such articulate encapsulation escaped me. I’m sure I loved everyone though . . . and probably told the same story three or four times.

And with a giant sombrero perched on my head (courtesy of the management at Mariachis) I wasn’t really caring how old I was anyway last Saturday night – although I’m sure those of a younger hue in the restaurant were giving me the mad, old bird look of pity.

No, those were the words of American humourist Helen Rowland. Though I think in this case she was being more accurate than amusing. If I remember correctly at some point during that evening’s inebriation there was far too much chat about physical ailments . . . and a lot of complaining from me about aching muscles.

I’d made the foolish mistake of playing hockey earlier in the day, and it had come back to bite me in the thighs. But returning to the astro-turf, stick in hand, was one of the things I had wanted to achieve this year, for if there’s something that turning 40 has done to me, it’s forced me to make a list.

I’ve never really been a person for listing things. Not even when it comes to the supermarket. I’d never have discovered the world foods aisle if I’d had a restricted inventory of what to buy.

To me, lists are just a permanent reminder of things you’ve never got round to doing. Perhaps not being a list person (rather than a listing one, I refer you back to tequila) shows a distinct lack of ambition, but I never thought I had to climb Kilimanjaro, go skydiving, or even visit Machu Picchu all in the first quarter century of my life – if ever. Life is a journey after all, not a clipboard agenda full of items waiting to be ticked off by certain deadlines.

However, with this being the Big 4-0 year, it did make me want to achieve a number of things, namely: run the Race for Life, get my skin sorted out before wrinkles really stop pretending they’re there, and get back to playing hockey.

So far, so good. Taking part in the Race for Life, something I’d considered since losing my mum to cancer 14 years ago, was a revelation. It was, I realised, a real moment of female empowerment, and being part of that massive, pink trail, moving through Holyrood Park made me feel part of something big, even if the bond between us all was built on loss.

But I’d had to get fit-ish to do the race, so getting back to hockey was the next aim. Two games in and it’s been fantastic – more so for seeing old faces (some even older than mine) than for the playing.

And while the skin is an ongoing issue, the pain a smiling Jackie Partridge at Dermalclinic put me through on three occasions for skin peels has been worth it.

The list wasn’t very long. Paltry in fact. And now they’re all ticked off. So what’s next? Do I have to start a list of things to achieve before I’m 50?

Mind you, they say that 50 is now the new 40, which really means I’ve just hit 30 – though hopefully the decade ahead will not include three pregnancies. So there it was, and there it went. Forty years in the blink of an eye. It’s the end of an era, the beginning of another, when life is really supposed to begin. I can’t wait.

Are we still game?

HISTORIC Scotland, the body which looks after the care and maintenance of Edinburgh Castle, has decided that it will not back a plan by the London Olympic Committee to hoist the sporting event’s logo of five rings on to the Castle Rock.

Whether it was the public outcry at such an idea, or the fact that it might well set a precedent for future advertising on the iconic building that changed the organisation’s collective mind, we probably will never know. But the main thing is that the biggest tourist draw in the city will, quite rightly, remain au natural. However, that’s not to say that they couldn’t go elsewhere, or that the Olympics should not be advertised at all in Edinburgh. There’s been rather an unsettling feeling of rampant nationalism in some of the comments made about the original plan, but objections should have been about the blot on the landscape the rings would have made, not that they would have been promoting an English event.

After all, it’s Team GB which participates in the Olympics. And research shows that Edinburgh and the Lothians have produced among the highest concentration of Olympic medallists in the UK. Only Glamorgan and Berkshire have turned out more winning athletes.

Since 1908 we’ve produced 14 gold, 11 silver and three bronze medals, a ratio of 4.9 medals per 100,000 population.

Sir Chris Hoy is responsible for five of those medals and he’ll be at London looking for more. Surely we’ll all be supporting him, rather than carping about the fact that it’s all happening down south?