The Quest for Eternal Youth

Colin FirthI am about to interview a handsome young man called Ben Barnes who is in Abu Dhabi for the Middle East International Film Festival. He stars in a great new film called Easy Virtue with, among others, Colin Firth.

Tragically Colin is not here or I would have been interviewing him as well. I was rather depressed last night as I watched the film and quickly realised that I found the middle-aged Colin a thousand times sexier than the young gun. This is clearly a sign that I am just that – middle aged.

Ben’s next film is Dorian Gray. We all know the plot; young man makes pact with devil to stay handsome and young. Staying young is a bit of a theme this week. As you may know I saw Duran Duran on Sunday. I was so excited. John Taylor and Nick Rhodes were among my top ten list of gorgeous men for many years.

“This is such a great east meets west event,” a young Arab said to me while we waited for my heroes to show up.

“I was rather hoping it would be more of a Helena Frith Powell meets John Taylor kind of event,” I replied, edging closer to the front of the stage. Big mistake. Huge. Getting close to the front that is. Being so close made it easy to see the decline in the heroes of my youth.

John Taylor has for some reason turned into Jim Carrey. His face is all crinkled and rubbery. Nick Rhodes is a square blob with hay-stack hair and Simon Le Bon is horribly jowly. He also had a dreadful habit of spitting onto a piece of kitchen paper (obviously laid out for that purpose) every ten minutes. And all the songs they were going to do were written in HUGE BLACK LETTERS on a piece of paper on the floor. Possibly so they wouldn’t forget them. I saw straight away that Save a Prayer wasn’t on it and although I did enjoy bopping along to the others, that was the one I wanted.

The extraordinary thing was that Le Bon acted as if he was Dorian Gray; as if he still looks twenty and is incredibly sexy, which he just isn’t. I suppose the sad truth is that although we age on the outside, inside we still feel as funky and pretty as we did when we were young. My mother-in-law says she is often horrified when she catches a glimpse of herself. “Who’s that old dear?” she asks, before realising it is her.

So although I did fancy Colin more than Ben, there is something undeniably attractive about youth. And it is something we all long to hold on to. But Duran Duran should stop dying their hair, prancing around in badly-cut nylon suits and realise they have no portrait in the attic.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008

16 thoughts on “The Quest for Eternal Youth

  1. Oh dear. As a Duran Duran fan, this is funny, yet disturbing. We need photos!
    I am reminded of that scene in “Music and Lyrics” when aging 80s star Hugh Grant is playing at the class reunion and throws his back out.

  2. Hi Helena, I’m just reading your book To Hell in High Heels about anti-ageing so this posting is fitting! What a sad experience. I think it is all about evolving. To be perfectly honest those guys didn’t have a lot of talent to fall back on in the first place and as they got older they just stayed in the same rut working the little bit of fame they had to exhaustion, hence they end up doing private gigs in Dubai. Real talent moves on. It could have been worse, at least they didn’t lip synch.

  3. I think the quest for eternal youth is barking up the wrong tree, si tu excuses la métaphore mélangée…

  4. Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone!
    I thoroughly enjoy reading your work! Entertaining and amusing!

  5. Is this Ben Barnes who was a director ( I think) in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin? Love your blog ,mimi

  6. Simon Le Bon will always be gorgeous to his fans. Poor you for not appreciating how he can still looks yummy as ever!

  7. I read How to be Impossibly French (I like the other title better.) a year ago and loved it so I was thrilled to discover your blog shortly before you moved. I have since uped your Amazon ratings by purchasing all off your other books online and am eagerly awaiting their arrival.

    All the best with the housing situation. I empathize as I currently live with my in-laws while awaiting renovations on my dream house (I’ve been waiting 5 years.) I live in France so maybe that says it all.

  8. “40 is when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart.”


  9. Unfortunately, these are all the normal signs of ageing – well, except the spitting – how gross is that? You are still at the stage of refusing to believe this ageing process will ever happen to you. I don’t want to depress you but….

    ….you don’t mention how they sounded; apart from not lip-synching, did they sound the same/different/better or worse than in days of yore?

    After all, they are supposed to be hired for their sound, no?

  10. Maybe I’m crazy.

    I’m 31, but for several years now, I just haven’t been attracted to “pretty boys.” Perfection just isn’t sexy to me.

    The older I get, the less appearance means to me. Well, let me rephrase that. Appearance that doesn’t suggest an inner quality that I admire just…bores me.

    Colin Firth = fine

    random guy with a six-pack = eh

  11. I don’t think many people actually think of themselves as being any number of years (apart from when you’re a child or rather old), but rather timeless. Only when one’s toy boys are approaching their 40ies does one start to think that the years must somehow have passed!

  12. oh gawd. so know what you mean: about fancying firth more than young guns he stars alongside. i first fancied him back in the 80s. I was in my twenties then. one forgets that as he has aged so have i. ”man mama”, says indignant teenager daughter, ”he’s lke sooooooo oooooooooooold’. Rather like your mother, girl.

  13. i first fancied firth when i was in my twenties. sometimes i rather forget the fact that we have both aged since then. i am only reminded when my teenage daughter wails in horrified disbelief, ”but he’s like ssssssooooooooooooo ooooooooold mama!’

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