So it was my birthday this week – 21 again… plus 15. A few people asked me why I hadn’t told them, I responded by asking if they would publicly admit to the fact that they kept asking for Whitley Bay gin in place of Whitley Neil. EXACTLY. I didn’t want to announce how old I was to the world!

“I’m essentially middle-aged!” I sobbed to a friend. “I’m going to have to buy a sports car and start wearing toupees and thick, gold necklaces!”

“I don’t think you’re technically middle-aged yet…” she started.

“I am! Look at this! Look what I bought myself!” I proceeded to displayed my newest purchases: a turtleneck jumper, a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew and a CASSETTE of Lovejoy I came across in a charity shop.

“Do you know what really cements the fact I’m getting on?” I asked her. “I thought Ian McShane looked fit on the box!”

I listened for a good hour (simultaneously enjoying a mug of Horlicks and opening gifts) to the fact I wasn’t old and I could very easily pass for 34. Wow. The reassurance didn’t really lift my mood, if anything it made it worse, largely because I’d lost my glasses and had to squint to read my cards.

Once she left I knew there was only one thing I could do to convince the world I wasn’t past it: I was going to head out and party with the young ’uns! They do say you’re only as young as the young ones that you, errr, party with and dress like… I think…

I returned the turtleneck and, after browsing some very large, comfy-looking underpants in Debenhams, headed to the “younger” sections to look for something “hip”. “I’ll be catching a cold in that!” I tutted as I lifted up what I believed was a sweatband but turned out to be a Barbie doll-sized mini skirt. Still, I wanted to feel young again so I bought one using a coupon I’d found in my Woman magazine and headed off to get my hair done.

I’d booked in for a re-style with a hairdresser young enough to be my daughter. I told her to give me a youthful look and reassured her she had free rein, so long as I could pass for a lady in her twenties. I left rocking 30in balayage hair extensions (apparently that’s a method of colouring hair and not the Northern Irish town I first thought). I complemented the hair with some bright, acrylic nails and false eyelashes as black as my soul and as long as I felt in the tooth.

Suited and booted I headed into town (because nothing screams desperate than a lonely, old Shelley trying to look young), and started to mingle with the twenty-something lasses hanging around the bars (not creepy AT ALL).

“Hey, have you seen Lovejoy?” I would strike up a conversation. Only ONE girl had heard of it, telling me just how much her Gran loved it.

One group let me sit with them for a while as I supped on my sherry, out of pity, I’m sure. I was doing my best to be hip when I thought a joke would go down well:

“So my chap bought me a lettuce for my birthday.” I began. “Though it turns out it was just the tip of the Iceberg!”

Well, I’ve never seen a group disperse as quick. It was like a bomb had gone off, and God knows I was bombing….

I’ve come to terms with ageing now, though. It means I get to spend more nights in with Lovejoy, and what mature lady would say no to that?