Dear Miss Sixty,

Is sixty the new forty?



Dear Orange-is-the-new-black,

Firstly, I don’t really go with this whole things-being-new-other-things thing. Orange is not the new black. Sixty is not the new forty – sixty is just fine as it is.

I’ll concede that it is a bit of a milestone age. It does require something of a rethink on some levels. All those advertisements featuring smiley grey-haired people aimed at the ‘Over Sixties’…. They’re suddenly for us. Good grief. Life insurance, funeral planning, walk-in baths…whole unimagined vistas hove into view.  Facebook has been urging me for quite a while to discover the Anti-Wrinkle Treatment That Dermatologists Don’t Want You To Know, and illustrating it with curious pictures of an obviously young woman peeling off layers of cling film.

And I know, I just know, that women of the generations before ours will read this, and other comments like it, with gently raised eyebrows. Just as nowadays I read about the pain of journalists (usually) facing some huge, unexpected age -thirty, say – and lamenting their fading youth. Come on, girlies, is what I want to say – and would say, given half a chance. Get a grip. I recently read an article by someone called Nicola Mostyn in the Big Issue.  She listed her woes: hangovers more epic than the night before, hasn’t listened to any new music since 1998, only bends down to pick up things which are really important…. ‘These days,’ she says, ‘if I try to cajole myself into working hard, I immediately want a cup of hot chocolate and an early night. I can only presume that my biology is readying me for retirement, where the ability to be happily indolent counts as an evolutionary edge.’ Gosh, Nicola. That blythe comment about retirement does give a clue….Nicola is thirty nine.  Bless, I hear some of you saying…. but not me. Not Miss Sixty. My chilly and reproachful gaze would freeze Nicola’s blood should she ever be so foolish as to venture into my field of vision.

So, Orange-is-the-new-black, I think we’ve sorted that out. Please find another, better name, and a much better question, before you write again.

Dear Miss Sixty,

I’m a hard-working baroness who recently resigned from a job as Minister for Equalities because of my government’s policy on Gaza. Now I read in the press that I had delusional beliefs in my own abilities, and resigned because I hadn’t been promoted in Cameron’s reshuffle. This is seemingly being put about by my erstwhile colleagues. Is this fair? Baroness W

Dear Baroness W,

No, probably not. It’s not always easy to feel very much sympathy for Tories, even (and perhaps especially) Northern and non-white Tories, who, one feels, should somehow just know better, when their erstwhile colleagues savage them.  I did read, however, that it wasn’t your gender or race that most alienated David Cameron, but your Yorkshireness.  This is clearly a good thing, therefore, and something you should work on.

Dear Miss Sixty,

Is there a Mr. Sixty? SY

Dear SY,

Of course not.

[Editor’s note: Miss Sixty is, of course, both happy and competent to also deal with queries from male readers, and welcomes their letters.]

Dear Miss Sixty,

Helen Mirren, twerking? Has the world gone mad?  Appalled, Nottingham.

Dear Appalled, Nottingham,

Well, I’m with you up to a point. And if it was, say, Anne Widdecombe, or Julie Goodyear, or even Ann Diamond, then I would be very concerned indeed. But we’re talking here about Helen Mirren. Leave aside the fabulous over-sixty-bikini-shot. She seems to win awards every year, and consistently turns up on the red carpet looking marvellous and waving statuettes around. I do like her. So, in my opinion, if she deems a little twerking to be appropriate, then who are we – who are any of us – to judge her?

Miss Sixty replies in brief:

Janie G – There’s always a balance to be struck between positive thinking and, bluntly, stupidity. I’ll say no more than that.

Susan – I’m fairly sure from your letter that Radio 2 is at the heart of this.  Why not try tuning to Radio Hereford instead? Good luck.

S D-M – That’s very kind of you. We do our modest best.