I think we have a lot to learn from the old girls. I don't mean the quite old girls, like myself, I mean the really old girls - i.e., you're barely in this club aged 80, sister!
I've been thinking about them ever since I met my friend Margaret's new step-girlfriend. That's what she calls her, because she is the new girlfriend of her late mother's boyfriend....Still with me? To explain: Margaret's late mother had a boyfriend, Peter. Sadly, Margaret's mother died a couple of years ago and Peter now has a new babe, the Step-Girlfriend. And as he had become a big part of my friend's family when he was dating their mother, Pete's new octogenarian arm candy has been enthusiastically welcomed, too, although she is no relation by either blood or marriage. But, my goodness, she is fabulous!
It's not just the size-8 figure, the defined waist, or the way she walks as though she were about to break into a quickstep at any moment. It's not even her perfectly kept nails or her beautifully set silver-white hair. No, that's all good but it's not the heart of it.
Of course, her clothes help. She's always immaculate in a cashmere twin-set and pearls for casual day wear, a suit for smart days and a selection of lovely, below-the-knee, waisted dresses for dinner or cocktails. I'm told that it's proper long gowns if there's a chance of a dance at an evening event. She never wears trousers, and always wears heels. But while she's very well turned out, there's more to her appeal than grooming.
The really amazing thing is that the Step-Girlfriend is not the only one I know of this marvellous breed. Two more immediately spring to mind, both mothers of good friends, in their 90's and a delight to behold and spend time with. And that, I think, is the crux of the charm of these golden girls.
They aim, at all times, to be delightful.
They always look interested in what you're saying, even if you rather suspect they can't quite hear you.
I do understand that this could be perceived as a hangover from the 1950's man-pleasing mode, when women were expected to adopt a perfect-wife persona, hiding their real needs and feelings under a wipe-clean, easy-care veneer of feminine charm. That would be terribly depressing, and I really don't think it is what I am seeing in these luminous ladies.
Rather it is a refined form of self-discipline, always to put on a delighted and delightful demeanour, whatever you're really going through inside, as a courtesy to others.
In our age of let-it-all-hang-out, where people exert no self-control when it comes to venting about whatever is getting them down at any given moment - regardless of the effect their mood may have on others - it really is a pleasant change.
And I don't excuse myself from that criticism. I'm a shocker for letting whatever I'm feeling - be it frustration with a slow supermarket queue, or a genuine concern - play across my face like a Reuters screen. Not nice.
So, while I'm all in favour of being real about my feelings in the appropriate context, I think there's a lot to be learned from these shining members of an older generation.
I would very much like to learn how to be delightful!
Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2007 - Two very delightful sculptures.
My 86 year old mother - Beryl, myself and my 96 year old Aunt Mary. Two very delightful women.