You Know You're Over 40 When…

You Fall Over – And Stay Down

There’s nothing I like doing more after work than indulging in a little window shopping.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Why are you shopping for windows, Andrea? And why are you after little ones especially?”. To which I’d reply: I don’t mean shopping for windows, silly, I mean browsing items I can’t possibly afford in the shops of London’s glittering Covent Garden area. Yes, I may be over 40, but I still can’t keep myself in the style to which I’d like to become accustomed. Why, just this week I ate not one but two packed lunches. It’s like the internet boom never happened.

Window shopping, therefore, gives me all the satisfaction of shopping (looking at sparkly things) without any of the pain (spending money, looking at a sparkly things in one’s wardrobe and lamenting ‘what was I thinking?!’ and falling into a spiral of disappointment, debt and self-loathing). Although, come to think of it, I get the same satisfaction when doing normal shopping, too – because what tends to happen is that I try on said sparkly things and instantly think they look terrible on me. And thus no money is parted with and no self-loathing or debt ensues. Win-win!

Anyway, on this particular recent post-work evening, I took my normal window-shopping route: from Tottenham Court Road to Charing Cross station via Covent Garden and the Strand. The Strand may not be on everyone’s radar as a must-do shopping destination, but lying, as it does, between Covent Garden and Charing Cross station, and containing, as it does, both a TopShop AND a Superdrug (where I can get my shopping fix, if all else has failed, by buying some paracetamol), I can highly recommend it.

I was laden down with bags as I entered TopShop. Not because I’d been buying anything (see above), but because I was carrying overnight clothes and shoes – at least two of them – as a result of staying over at my boyfriend’s the night before. I was also carrying my very large handbag, and a can of 7-Up. Yes, being a woman, I can multi-task.

Except that I can’t multi-task – if the ability to multi-task means the ability to carry a few bags, drink out of a can of 7-Up and walk without falling over.

Because after perusing the items TopShop had to offer on the ground floor, I decided to head down to its basement. This involved, as you might suspect, stairs. So I walked down the stairs, lugging my big handbag and my big carrier bag and drinking out of my can of 7-Up and…


A bomb went off.

Not really! I fell over. Smack onto my arse. So: an Andrea Bomb went off.

Now, falling over in public isn’t a completely remarkable thing. We’ve all done it. Especially women in romcoms. They do it all the time!

But what was remarkable was this:

I stayed down.

I stayed down for just that little bit too long.

I stayed down while the young, under-40 staff fussed around me and asked me if I was alright and started mopping up the 7-Up – which was quickly becoming even more of a health and safety hazard than 7-Up usually is – and I genuinely didn’t care what they, or any of my fellow window-shoppers, thought of me.

I stayed there, having a little sit-down, when I could actually choose to get up. When in the past, indeed, I would have got up immediately, swiftly, in the hope that no one had seen me fall.

In short: I stayed down like a little old lady stays down when she’s had a fall.

(Which is an important distinction, I hasten to add. You know you’re over 40 when you fall down and stay down. You know you’re over 70 when you ‘have a fall’.)

When I eventually picked myself up – a good few minutes later – I confess I felt that I’d behaved more like an elderly woman in an Alan Bennett play than a beautiful, yet klutzy, Hollywood romcom heroine. Also, it wasn’t just my pride that was dented. My can of 7-Up was a write-off.

But I consoled myself slightly with the fact that I had fallen down and stayed down in a branch of TopShop – as opposed to, say, a branch of John Lewis. The latter would surely be an even more worrying sign of ageing. Although it would mean that I’m finally living in the style to which I’d like to become accustomed.

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18 thoughts on “You Fall Over – And Stay Down

  1. I recognise this far too clearly.

    A couple of weeks ago I got off a commuter train at Euston and was walking up the ramp, with an enormous throng of hurrying people bustling behind me, when I saw a shiny penny. I went into auto-pilot (because of that damned rhyme!) and, without even thinking, I stooped to pick it up. As I did so, I suddenly realised that I absolutely mustn’t stop moving, because of the sheer numbers behind me, so I swooped in like a bird of prey plucking its lunch from the desert sands.

    I’m not sure, but I think I must have tripped over my own hand. I launched into a forward roll reminiscent of… well, imagine the very best acrobatics seen in the Olympics. Now re-imagine that but with the competitors no longer youthful in lycra but in their early forties, wearing bulky coats and carrying a brief case.

    On the upside, my commuting companions have now had something to chuckle over for more than a fortnight.

  2. Ha, brilliant story – thanks for sharing! Clearly, picking up pennies is not as lucky as we are led to believe… :/

  3. @hell4heather on said:

    The great thing about being a woman over 40 is you know full well had it been a glass of wine this tumble would never have happened… 😉

  4. Loving your blog. This story rings so true. Not just losing the ability to actually, pneumatically, bounce right back up, but also the idea that you now have a chance for a little rest. Dignity be damned.

  5. It’s when its in Lakeland Ltd that you really need to worry….

  6. I loved this. I can definitely relate to it!

    I can’t wait to read –and relate to — more of your posts.

  7. I know exactly what you mean!! I fell over in Bali last year. I manifested the damn fall, I am sure because I was in the worst mood at having left my wallet in the pool park, and taken an hour to negotiate standstill traffic in Kuta to go back and search for it and then being late for an eyelash appointment. Anyway, I hopped out of the cab, onto wet, uneven pavement and BAM!! It was such a shock. In front of a million streetside diners no less. I didn’t want to ever get up. I even shed a tear or two amongst the grazes and bruises. How do people cope with such violence? The pavement hit me and the step attacked my wrists. But how long is reasonable to stay down after the age of 40? Do we get an extra minute for each passing year? 🙂

  8. I’m not over 40, close to it 36. And luckily I have not fallen in public, but I am finding that I fall up stairs at home. No reason, not tripping over anything, just falling. As I get older I recognize that my body does not coincide with my mind AT ALL anymore. Body parts that shouldn’t tend to crack and make all sorts of noises. And you may get a kick out of this. One day when leaving work I was walking from the carpet to the tile and as I hit the tile I hear this clicking sound. I thought to myself “damn I need to get my shoes fixed because they are making a lot of noise” Got to the mat right in front of the door and the sound continued. Why? Because it was my right knee. I was horrified. So if this is happening at 36, I hate to see what 40 has in store for me.

  9. Hi! I stumbled onto your blog from the Freshly Pressed page..and you are hilarious! I just turned 40 in September last year…so I’m taking this as a good sign to know what I may expect as the months march along to make me an official “over -40” person 😉

  10. I was hit by a car when I was about 50 yrs old, but I was in really good shape from being a dance teacher and keeping up with it later on. The car was not moving very fast, but knocked me to the pavement and hit me with enough force to tear my trousers, leaving be bruised and bleeding. The minute I hit the pavement, I jumped back up so fast it was like one of those martial arts movies! Very funny when I think about it. The woman, who was a nurse, said she did not see me, really? Drove me to the hospital to be treated. I think it was the adrenaline that made me fly back up because initially I felt no pain and when I was speaking to her I say my leg and realized I could be more injured than I thought.

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