I always knew my life wasn’t going to be an ordinary one. That doesn’t mean it was always going to be happy, and I’ve had my ups and downs. But it’s those experiences that make you grow, and that’s the key: there’s nothing more fascinating than growing and nothing more captivating than experience.
And now, as I reach my fifties, I’ve never been happier. I’m happy with the way I am and the way I look. I’m happy with my body and my face, and I’m well aware of the attraction I create. At the same time I’ve got so much more confidence in myself. I know who I am and what I want, and the more you know about yourself the more powerful you are. That comes with experience and maturity.
It’s as though everything has been a rehearsal up to now. In your twenties, you’re lost, seeking approval, not understanding who you are or what you’re doing – no wonder George Bernard Shaw said youth was wasted on the young. People say you have much more energy when you’re young, but it’s directionless energy.
Real energy comes from within – from the depth of your soul, a soul that’s been forged in the furnace of experience. And as you get older, you find yourself in touch with a much more spiritual side, or at least I do. I’m definitely more relaxed and more aware and more at peace with myself. It’s a magical time.
Of course, I’m lucky. I have always thought love is the best medicine – for everything. It’s essential, and it’s like an injection: you won’t find anything better for your mind, your soul, even your skin. Love makes you feel in harmony with yourself and with the universe. Love is magic, and magic is ageless.
On the other hand, love always arrives when you least expect it. And while it is always love, at my age you’re more aware and more mature so you live love in a different way, because you know more about living and about love. When I think how much I didn’t know about love at the start of my loving career, compared to what I know now…
But you’re never finished with learning about love, and you’re always surprised by the energy it gives you. The important thing is always to be open, always to be ready, whatever your age. If you don’t send out the right message, nothing will happen. My last few years have been difficult, with the end of my long relationship. I was always confident change would come, but when you’re in the middle of the tempest… Talking of tempests, I consider The Tempest, which of course is about magic, to be one of Shakespeare’s best plays.
That’s not to say you can’t, or shouldn’t, help yourself. I’ve always known I was attractive, or rather, I now know I’m attractive. When I was younger, people told me I was attractive, but when you’re young, you’re unsure. You don’t believe. Now experience has given me confidence, and confidence had made me realise my powers of attraction. Young men, older men – I’m very conscious how many of them fancy me.
Of course, it’s much easier to attract young men if you have charisma, and it’s much easier to have charisma if you communicate positivity and energy, both of which come from really, truly knowing yourself. Embrace positivity, and embrace everything that’s great about being 50, and you can carry off the raciest look and the most flamboyant of outfits; style is ageless. Just greet the world and everything it can throw at you with enthusiasm.
As for botox, plastic surgery, nips and tucks: they’re absolutely a good thing, as long as you use them to express yourself. The joie de vivre you have inside yourself can be shown in your face and body. Everything in moderation, though. You don’t want to look like the Bride of Wildenstein. You don’t want to look ridiculous.
And look after your body. The Romans were right: mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body. It’s knowledge that’s 2,000 years old: massage, steam baths and relaxation are good for you. Your brain’s going to work better if you look after your body. Don’t let yourself go, and don’t be a frump. Rejoice that you’re not constantly seeking your contemporaries’ approval. You know what’s good about you and for you; enjoy it. That’s what I do.
Don’t let the British media get you down. They’re obsessed by age, in a negative way. Fifty is the new 30 – but the media haven’t caught up. We 50-year-olds are at the cutting edge. The media are stuck in their dreary old thinking and their conventional boxes.
I’ve never believed in ‘age’. To me, age doesn’t exist. It’s the last thing I think about when I meet someone. I classify people by their willingness to defy convention, by their experience and by what they’ve learned from it. That way wisdom lies, and power.
And what power maturity brings. For the first time in my life, I have a clear vision of what I want to do. I want to write my novel, and more than one. I want to make TV programmes and get involved in the production side of them as well. I want to do more for charity.
This August I want to celebrate my 50th birthday with two days of partying in Puglia, in Italy, where I spent many of my childhood summers. Yes, my 50th: Barack Obama turns 50 this year too. I have something in common with him: everyone’s always asking to see our birth certificates!
But 50 – what’s not to like? I feel wiser, wittier and happier. I’m in the prime of my joy. It is, as I’ve said, a magical time, and magic has no age – just like my spirit. My spirit is the thing that will keep me vibrant forever.
There’s an old saying that goes: “If the young only knew, if the old only could.” Well, huh. I do know, now, and I certainly can, still. Here’s to my 50s: you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.