Maldon is a tiny town in rural Victoria; a heritage-listed goldmining town straight out of the 19th century. It was also the location for ausmoto buddy Jodie's fabulous fortieth festivities last weekend.
I hopped on my trusty motorbike on Friday and was greatly rewarded - inspiration for a novel hit me just outside Tarcutta, NSW, and I spent fifteen minutes crouched in the gutter in the shade of my bike, scribbling ideas into a hastily-bought exercise book before they evaporated. I was also treated to a home-cooked meal by another bike friend, Stewie, later on in Albury. Life's good!
Getting lost in Bendigo was fun, apart from the fact that as well as being lost, I was busting for a wee and couldn't find a loo. These days I find that a full bladder prevents my brain from functioning. Will go back to explore Bendigo one day - the little bit I saw of it was just beautiful - but last weekend I was on a mission to Maldon, and didn't stick around.
Maldon's population pretty much doubled as people came from all over the place to celebrate the milestone birthday with Jodie – what a great day & night it was too, with a tent city springing up in the back yard, and much consumption of beer, chateaux cardboards and plentiful BBQ fare, not to mention a monstrous chocolate birthday cake. Molly the Energiser Bunny organised everybody, and led a posse of youngsters around for face-painting, trampoline bouncing and pinata bashing, while the grown-ups sat and celebrated. In the background, the sounds of two-piece ensemble Twofold Tofu wafted on the warm afternoon air - all very laid-back and lovely, it was. And rightly so - it's not every day that you turn 40, after all, Jodie – and it is special, if for no other reason than that it's probably the last decade of dignity that you will be allowed.
Molly the Energiser Bunny advises the old girl on cake-cutting, while Geoff looks on. (Photo: Nikolas Axaris)
Make the most of it Jodz! At 40 you're young enough to still have fun, and old enough not to care what people think. At 40 your health will probably never get any better than it is now – it's a bit of a peak time really. I'm not saying one is poised at the top of a slippery slope to decrepitude, although some unkind friends have told me that is indeed the way it is. I don't believe them. If 50 is the new 30, then 40 is even younger, right?
Jodz, over the next decade you have so much to look forward to! Now you are eligible to be a Junior member of the Ulysses Club. To be a 'Junior' anything at your age has to be a good thing, right?
But that's not all! More than likely, sometime in the next ten years, as you go hooning around on your scooter, or driving the school bus, your thermostat will start to go a bit wobbly. You will notice some interesting eyebrow growth. Gravity will exert its authority on bits of you that you would prefer it to keep away from. There may be twinges here and there – little gifts from above that remind you to get out and have fun while you still can.
Oh yes – the forties really are fabulous! These tiny reminders are gentle - nothing like the sledgehammers that will bludgeon you as soon as you hit 50.
Not-so-old Chooks R Us - Jodie & Betty (photo: Geoff Hansford)
A woman of 50, in Australia, is inundated with reminders of her age and her impending cronedom, no matter how youthful and energetic she feels. Australia Post is a co-conspirator in this campaign.
First, the postie will deliver the reminder that she is now eligible for free mammograms every two years. Oh joy! For years I have waited to have my boobs stretched out for free, and squashed flat between two cold glass plates, while I stand on tiptoe with teeth gritted and wonder WTF happened to the prospect of a dignified middle age. It's hard to be dignified when you're trapped by your tits in the jaws of a cold machine.
But wait, there's more! Australia Post will duly deliver a request to take part in the National Bowel Screening Program. That screening kit, which arrived at my house while I was away celebrating Jodie's arrival into fabulousness, is still sitting unopened on my table. I can't quite bring myself to send poo through the post. In fact, I haven't yet been able to read the 'how-to' booklet that came with the kit. I'm not the least bit curious about how to harvest the right amount of poo over a period of two or three days – or how to store Poo #1 while I wait for Poo #2 - or how to package it all up before posting it to a government laboratory for analysis. I pity the poor posties who ferry this icky cargo.
So Jodz – enjoy your 40s – possibly the last dignified decade you will be permitted! Thanks heaps for the great party - it was terrific!