BIRTHDAYS with a zero on the end can have a strange effect on people.
They either want to party very hard or else sit in a darkened room and pretend that it is just not happening.
Turning 30 can be a trauma for some people – are you still classed as a “young person” once you tip over into your thirties?Hitting 40 used to signify middle age but now that honour seems to have been passed to 50.
And as for 60 – is that officially the start of “old age”?
Still, by the time people get to 70 and above they tend to be happy about sharing their age once more, and hitting a century is definitely cause for celebration.
The last time I wrote a regular column for this newspaper, I was a mere whippersnapper in my 30s, trying to juggle life as a journalist and mother to three young daughters.
Now I am a mother of four and a grandmother but I was never really that bothered about birthdays until a couple of years ago when a very glamorous and successful friend became distraught as the big 50 loomed large on the horizon.
However, much she was assured that 50 was the new 40 and she was looking fabulous, she could not be consoled.
“At 40”, she explained, “I could look back over my life at what I had achieved and plan what I still wanted to do with the reassurance that, all being well, I probably had half of my life still ahead.
“At 50, I’m definitely past the tipping point.”
I could understand her sentiments but I am in agreement with the French actor Maurice Chevalier who quipped: “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”
Over the years I have been to far too many funerals for friends and family who never had the chance to grow old.
They still had so much to offer and so much to enjoy, yet they didn’t get to blow out those big number candles.
So, as my own half century approaches, I have devised a list of 50 things to do before I am 50.
The list includes simple things like making pasta from scratch and slightly more scarey things like getting a tattoo.
With just under a year to go until my birthday, that is approximately one activity per week, so watch this space for regular updates.