Growing old is great says agony aunt extraordinaire

Virginia Ironside.

Virginia Ironside.

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Growing old is great, says Virginia Ironside, doyenne of Fleet Street and agony aunt extraordinaire.

And she’s remarkably persuasive as you can discover for yourself when she comes to Chichester.

Virginia will offering The Virginia Monologues at the Minerva Theatre on February 4 at 2.45pm and 7.45pm in aid of Children on the Edge.

Grandchildren are a huge part of the pleasure which comes with advancing years, Virginia says. But, just as importantly, with those years comes increasing confidence.

“I am 67 now. I think the fact that there is a lot less life in front of you than there is behind you concentrates the mind. When you are young, it’s like you are standing in a huge supermarket and you don’t know which aisles to go down. When you are 67, you have got to make the most of every minute. The clock is ticking and you haven’t yet bought supper!”

With that confidence comes much greater energy: “I am about as twice as energetic as I used to be.”

Partly the energy comes from lack of anxiety. She’s no longer wasting energy worrying: “The lack of anxiety relaxes you. Nothing matters any more.

“When you are 20, if you go to a party and drop your fork, it can wreck your whole week. When you are older, you can go to a party and accidentally drop a plate-load of food all over the host and you just think ‘Sod it!’ I mean that as a metaphor for life, not literally, but the point is that nothing matters any more.

“By the time you reach my age, you usually have been something in your life that you can look back on - a singer, a mother, a wife or whatever, and you know what you are. But when you are younger you are still fretting, chiselling out your personality.

“One of the results is that I am much happier now than when I was when I was younger. I spent so much of my time earlier in my life being extremely depressed. I have seen all kinds of psychiatrists and therapists.

“I now feel that I have ‘done’ despair while some of my contemporaries are actually still very despairing.” The downside, of course, is the things you can no longer do. Virginia was asked the other day by her grandson “Do you like going upstairs slowly?”

“But there are so many other things you can do to compensate. One of the problems is that there is such emphasis on loss of brain cells, loss of energy. People are so keen to go on about the loss. I am just trying to redress the balance. I want to tell people that there is another side.”

But it’s certainly not about disinhibition or letting yourself go. Far from it.

“Another great thing about growing old is that when you are young and beautiful, you are just another beautiful young person. When you are old and lots of people have let it all go down the drain, you really only need to pay the tiniest bit of attention to yourself to look good! You do that, and you can absolutely outstrip them all!”

Ticket price of £15 includes champagne reception, art exhibition and book signing. Tickets on 01243 781312.