Reader meet Death Warmed Up. That is the moniker I have been going by for two days now, as I shuffle around, whimpering and croaking and choking and generally sharing the kind of dramatics one only displays when one is suffering from an outrageous dose of head-banging lady flu.
A person struck down by said affliction is not a person to be fiddled with. Indeed a person who cannot breathe is best left to her own devices, namely eating sustaining meals of Toffypops and chocolate digestive, listening to Anna Wintour and Hal Elrod podcasts and indulging her middle-aged self with a stack of matron literature. Heck yes. Matron literature. Chick lit for grown-up women. Those no longer dithering about catching the man but seriously considering feeding said man to the dogs and getting on with chasing authenticity and going vegan and changing careers and drinking a good red instead of another bottle of alco-pops and embracing her sexuality and debating the merits of plastic surgery and a new wardrobe.
Oh yes: the challenges of the matron are not to be under-estimated.
Which is why Mutton, a book I consumed while buried in blankets last night, is such a joy for a woman stood on the verge of Mutton and Matron-hood. Part discussion, part novel, part semi-autobiographical rant, Mutton is written by one of my contemporary heroines: India Knight. a women who so reminds me of myself I sometimes wonder whether we are twins separated at birth as she makes me howl in the way only sisters can. She speaks things out loud that I only dare to think and I find it fascinating watching her grow and age at the same pace that I am. (N.b: See also, Caitlin Moran)
Mutton is light reading with a serious message. I mean seriously light, hen-lit style wise prose which really has you pondering. Like having a really, long chat with your best friend about the perils of botox and sequins when you are over forty, the book addresses the indignities of growing older as a women with a rather mad (actually utterly bonkers), but life-enhancing conclusion that rather too neatly summarises why authenticity, wrinkles et al, have to be our ultimate goal while we have no choice but to make domestic life our raison d’etre. I thoroughly enjoyed it: and enjoyed even more imagining that Clare, the fishnet tight wearing heroine of the book was surely loosely based on India herself and that Clara’s house was the warm pinky red cocoon that India’s seems to be complete with lounging teenagers and a frilly little girl.
See the thing is this: I have long believed that books seek you out when you need them. And yesterday I needed India Knight and her thoughts on ageing at a point when one week into my 43rd year I have been struck down with a serious case of the need to get a grip. This book, though ultimately silly, put much into perspective for me. And perspective, when even your own Mother see’s cause to tell you that your life is a train crash, is much needed when a person can’t quite manage to pull off even something as simple as breathing without dousing herself in eucalyptus oil and dipping her feet in mustard.
So yes. India Knight, I love you. And I am scheduling in a very minor, painless cold for the middle of September so I can read your next book In Your Prime, at a point when I have finally decided to step off the path to madness.
Another ToffyPop? Why I don’t mind If I do.