Try some Swedish death cleaning for the soul.

It's inevitable. You have to give up things when you get older: a firm jawline, backwards cowgirl, cartwheels, dreams of being a concert pianist.

There is enough written about the grief and loss of getting older, especially as a woman, that I feel duty-bound to mention when you come across good stuff; hopefully without sounding like Germaine Greer, who pronounced that gardening was better than sex.

We live in a form of social contract where certain things are expected of us. And when you become more of a cranky old bitch you're off the hook a bit. You have an excuse to lower your standards. A bit more. Keep going. Lower. Ah, that's it!


I'm hanging on to the booze, chocolate and sex, but I am giving up...

ONE Feeling guilty for not decluttering

Crud I can see without moving as I write this: a Godzilla toy, a snow globe, a swear jar, six psychotherapy books, a whiteboard, UNO cards, a box of Copic markers, the Chunn Family Cup for Creativity (tarnished), a tangle of abandoned knitting. Marie Kondo would have a heart attack. I don't care. I live in a gobby house full of stuff and I like it.

TWO LinkedIn

So, I'm never going to have a muscular corporate career and one upside of that is that you don't have to grow your professional network with stupid soulless LinkedIn.

I don't want to get congratulated for a year in my "job" that isn't really a job from people I don't even know. Or "endorsed". For anything other than backwards cowgirl, maybe.

THREE Keeping up with the Joneses

Oh. Whistler. Fabulous! Don't break a leg, ha ha. And Wigbert is going to the Sorbonne? And Figgy is at the OECD. And you're looking well? The ketosis diet? Argh. Stop trying to win status in some imagined world of dipshits.

Achieve a higher level of Zen surrender to the excruciating nothingness of social climbing. You don't have to over-achieve any longer, especially not that.

FOUR Proper dinner parties

Anyone reading this who knows me, will be spluttering, WTF DHC, you've never given a proper dinner party in your life! You don't even have six matching plates. Still, I will wave a public goodbye to serviette rings nonetheless.

Sometimes I make a curry and put some knives and forks on the table. Or get takeaways. Perhaps I should add (hopefully) soon being able to give up kids' birthday parties too.

FIVE Leather skirts

High heels. G-strings. Tight lime green Versace jeans: gone. All those wraith clothes that I don't fit because I bought them in my miserable period. While I'm at it I can give up wearing makeup every day.

Having a "skin care regimen". Never had one before so it's a bit late to start now. Extreme grooming: Never going to happen. On the other hand, like every woman my age I do seem to be amassing an inordinate number of scarves.

SIX Soul mates

No one completes anyone. You know that's not a real thing, right? No goblins at the bottom of the garden either.

Your life matters. It doesn't matter more because someone is with you. Still, having someone to bingewatch grisly Scandinavian noir in bed with, now that's worth hanging on to.

SEVEN Gratuitous self-deprecation

Oh this old thing. No, I'm the worst. No, I'm the worst. I'm a lardo. No you're not, I'm a whelaphant. I'm a terrible mother. Not as bad as me. And so on and so forth. It's mean to put other people down, but also extremely boring to put yourself down. I'm jettisoning that.

EIGHT Emotional flashbacks

Crowds, public toilets, pickled onions, staying in other people's houses. Notice what triggers you and avoid it. When you do, you may be surprised. You might find stability, ironically, is rather exciting. Life seems so much quieter these days but "deceptively quiet like a tiger with velvet paws". (Can't remember where I read that but I liked it).

NINE Pretending to like trendy things

Degustation menus, obscure jazz, coconut water, hot yoga. Anything hip. No obligation to like it whatsoever.

TEN Fawning

No more servitude, ingratiation and forfeiture of any vital needs just because they might inconvenience others. This was once a survival strategy (It's the fourth F after fight, flight or freeze). Not any more. No more being Dobby the House Elf.

ELEVEN Being defensive

To do anything remotely interesting you need to train yourself to handle - or even enjoy - criticism. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.

TWELVE Looking for answers

You're not going to find an answer. There isn't one. The answer's you. The answer is, despite it all, you're not hurting yourself anymore. Hallelujah.