When I was a little girl my mother, who hadn’t been out of the house for three weeks, asked me to go to the chemist and buy her a face pack and a packet of hair dye on the understanding that I should stay out all day and could spend the change on David Cassidy badges and sweets. This memory only came back to me when I reached that age. That age is when you wake up one morning and suddenly realise that the sweet bird of youth has not just flown , but has built a nest in your hair, left its footprints around your eyes and, as it flew off, shat on you. That age is when women discover the power of product.
Product is a term used to describe anything that can be bought in a cream, lotion or serum and has been scientifically proven by 100 women, who didn’t necessarily get their O levels, to make you not only look younger but actually be younger. Serum is a Latin word meaning expensive. Product ensures that lips are plump and thighs are lean, hair is manageable and shiny, and skin is luminous and dewy without breakthrough. Breakthrough is when the reversal of the ageing process is so intense that you revert to the age of 13, get oily blackheads and buy David Cassidy badges. Product is also what you put under your armpits for added youth. Most of us had neglected to notice how decrepit our armpits were looking until we were told to look by Dove. Like many women, I was shocked when this was brought to my attention. Dove were the first product manufacturers to buck the trend of using malnourished children to advertise their products and began to use models who were “real women”. For a moment feminists thought this was a good thing, but then realised that all Dove were doing was showing pictures of naked women, and telling them that their armpits were ugly.
There is an abundance of product and it can be confusing to the novice. Here is how you know if product is any good:
It must cost at least £9 and can honestly cost as much as one million pounds. However if you buy your product from Boots you can never know how much it costs. This is because it is impossible to buy a single item at Boots. Basically you always pay for two items and steal the third. This is now the law at Boots and extends also to official shoplifting where you will not be arrested if you have taken three items from the same range and hidden them in your pram. The same applies to the pharmacy: when they dispense your antidepressants they will multiply your dose by three, take away the mania you first thought of and add in two parts of Benylin. The traditional post-Christmas blues suffered by many shoppers is due in part to this practice. Any unsold Christmas gifts will be offered at half price, but will no longer be part of the buy two steal one scheme making the calculation of a bargain impossible to ascertain. In order to confuse us further, they will ensure that any unsold Hello Kitty calculators are put out of sight in case someone tries to work it out. It is not possible to ask someone who works for Boots to do this calculation for you: they are programmed only to ask if you have an Advantage Card. An Advantage Card is used to collect information about your intimate behaviours, diseases and fungal infections and then sell that information on to the NHS who can calculate their next year’s budget and predict the birth rate. As a thank you, they will send you a selection of coupons whose complexity has been devised by the Royal Actuarial Society. You should manage these coupons carefully as they have quite specific cut off times and will be invalid if you try to use them on Tuesday mornings between 11:06 and 11:13. If you tell the cashier you do not have an Advantage Card they will look at you as if you have just told them you have six weeks left to live.
It will always be packaged in the style of a Matryoshka doll: outer box, inner box, outer bottle, inner bottle, inner inner bottle, atom
It will makes your pores smaller. This can be distressing for blind people who have a guide dog and who haven’t necessarily seen the word pores written down. Technically it will claim to make the appearance of pores smaller. This is because product always contains alcohol which changes perception
It will be scientific. Product manufacturers have classified product elements into a new periodic table in order of atomic kitten numbers. For added modesty, the word periodic will always be represented in blue. Thus we now have Glowidium, Oxyhydrofabulesium and Poutyflirtyamniotic acid 10. The concept of acid being applied to the face feels counterintuitive but product also always contains Soma. This is to ensure that any woman who momentarily thinks she knows it is a lie, is immediately tranquillised.
It will eliminate the signs of ageing. No-one knows how many signs of ageing there are but they will always be a prime number. (Footnote: for men this is simpler as there is only one sign of ageing and this is the turning up of the collar of the polo shirt as it looked so cool in the seventies) Signs of ageing include:
Wondering if shoes will rub
Raising an eyebrow when women over 50 wear strappy tops
Being cross about the women’s toilets being further away than the men’s at Cherwell Valley services/the growth of Parent and Child parking spaces
Pretending to like Coldplay
“Doing” Patricia Hodge from Miranda and finding it hilarious
Thinking Alistair Campbell might be a bit dirty
It will be sold to you by a woman in a white coat who overuses the word “pop”: pop yourself on a stool!, pop this in a bag for you!, and pop to the till!. (And mysteriously, will tell you that some products will even make your eyes or cheeks pop. I once saw a woman whose cheeks actually popped). She will exfoliate and moisturise the back of your left hand so that it look significantly younger than the back of your right hand. She will also tell you that they do a range for older skin but conspiratorially suggest you’re not ready for that yet
Before David Beckham there were only two products available for men and these were not known as product but as Brylcreem and Swarfega. Some men were able to procure other products but homosexuality hadn’t really got off the ground and manufacturers didn’t quite know where to position their marketing strategy. However, with the advent of metrosexuality, all men suddenly began to notice that they looked tired. Unlike women who were concerned about ageing, men were concerned about the visible effects of fatigue. Fatigue is Very Bad for men as it will convey to their partner that they are unable to get up off the sofa and be productive. As men began to look and feel perkier, they started wearing scarves looped around their necks like girls (this fashion was known as the Chelsea knot and can still be seen today in women who work in HR and shop at Next), bought battery operated nasal and ear hair trimmers, and took up waxing. This became known as the back, sack and crack. (NB If a man goes on a stag do to Dublin and drinks Guinness this is known as the back, sack and craic.)