53 is the new Sexy.

53 is the new sexy. I’ll take it…

I am always deeply sceptical of press releases from dating websites. Their marketeers have done enough research to know I’m in the north of Scotland, so there is often a geographical ‘hook’ to entice me in.

Statistics might shout that Inverness is the seventh most popular Scottish city in which to have an affair. At first glance this makes me wonder what my friends are not telling me. And then I remember that there are only seven Scottish cities, eight if you count newbie, Dunfermline. So, most folk are behaving exactly as they should be.

Highland men are the most desirable

Sam Heughan, the ‘Highland’ star of Outlander, is a lowlander.

Another email will excitedly proclaim that Highland men are the most desirable in the world. I will raise an inquisitive eyebrow at the headline, until I read paragraph six, and realise this was a survey of American fans of Outlander.

In the books and in their fantasies, Jamie Fraser strides and rides manfully round Loch Ness, his kilt swaying in the breeze. Pity those surveyed have overlooked that actor Sam Heughan, who plays their Highland hero, is actually from Galloway.

Women feel sexiest at 53? Hell, yeah!

But one report which I wholeheartedly bought into, did arrive by email from a dating site. It declared that women feel at their sexiest at 53.

I should declare an interest here, I am 55. But if I deduct the last two years for Covid (we’re all doing that, right?) then I would appear officially to be at my prime.

Tell that to my daughters, and they’ll roll their 20-something eyes around their preciously unlined faces, and think their old mum is losing it again. But bear with me – there’s some logic behind this.

I love my body for what it can do

It aches, it creaks, but my 55 year old body raised a good few £100s for Highland Hospice in April

In my 50s, I finally know who I am, and I know what I want. Our daughters have grown up, and are happy, for now. I have a job that I love. I am, thanks to physio appointments, and repeat prescriptions for HRT, asthma inhalers, and painkillers, fit enough to walk, run, cycle, swim, workout and stretch. It’s true that in my 50s I don’t bounce as well as I used to, but here’s the thing. I respect my body, not for what it looks like (I realised long ago that looks don’t last) but for what it can do.

My body is amazing. And so, frankly, is yours.

I’ve learned to please myself

It takes me swimming, too…

My body, with a little help from Mr Marr’s, grew two whole new humans and fed them each for a year. It transports me to my happy places in the middle of lochs and to the top of hills and can – when fuelled with appropriate levels of gin, still be on the dancefloor at 2am.

I care less in my 50s about what other people think of me. I have finally learned to please myself and find pleasure where I can. And to be honest, it probably helps that Mr Marr’s body has aged similarly to mine. I have no desire to try and compete in a different market.

So, thank you. I’ll dance to that. 53 (+ 2 that don’t count) is the new sexy.

Hope that we’ll soon be in good hands

When integrity is valued, the future of the country looks to be in better hands.

I’ve been back in Highland schools this past couple of weeks, delivering a course to senior students through Developing the Young Workforce.

A combination of coaching and presentation skills training, the ‘Present yourself with Confidence’ course helps young people recognise their leadership skills and personal qualities, come up with examples to evidence those skills, and then articulate them to the ‘gatekeepers’ of the next stage of their lives.

One of the things we do is identify leadership skills. Hard work and compassion are always on the list, as are the ability to motivate and inspire. But the most important leadership quality identified by the students was ‘Doing things for the right reasons’.

If anything, integrity is the quality that has been most absent from the leadership of our government in Westminster and – I regret to say – in Holyrood too. The evidence from our students suggests we might be in safer hands in years to come.

Let’s get public transport sorted

Public transport is a hot topic this week, with rail strikes causing massive disruption. And with petrol prices soaring, those of us who need to get from A to B are sorely impacted.

Our whole public transport system needs a massive overhaul. Daughter #2 spent a few days in the south of France recently; £51 from Inverness to Edinburgh on the train, £30 for her return international flights. Our quote for the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam was £850 each way.

Our governments are supposed to be encouraging more sustainable ways to travel. The economics make it farcical.

This column is published by Highland News and Media in newspapers across the north of Scotland. If you can, please support print media and the future of independent  journalism by buying a paper, or subscribing online. 

If you’d like to receive it by email every week, sign up free. Just pop your email address into the widget on my home page here. And feel free to share.