Monday Music : DOLLY v DEBBIE By Barbara MacDonald

In between travelling, diving, white-water rafting, cycling, mountain-biking, Nordic walking, reading, writing, cooking and supporting her three sons’ various music and sporting ventures, Barbara Macdonald is a child-care lawyer in the South East.

Women (and a good few men) being dragged kicking and screaming into middle age; dressing-tables creaking under the weight of anti-ageing lotions and potions; sagging breasts and arses hoisted upwards to something like their former glory in gravity-defying underwear which will never (God forbid) be revealed to any admiring suitor, lest he should think he needs his eyes/head examined – need to believe in magic. So there many of us were, clutching our tickets to Dolly Parton at the O2 in June, determined to believe.

We had, after all, wanted to believe when we saw not only Dolly but that other icon of the 80s, Debbie Harry, was to play Glastonbury this year. What a coup. Yes! Let’s hear it for the women of a certain age we thought.

And then Debbie appeared. The headline was cruel, stating Debbie had banned photographers from the pits because “no-one wants to see pictures of her gnarly face”, as one snapper put it. The internet footage was crueller.

The shock! The horror! The disappointment! It wasn’t the face. It was the sight of what was once a stunningly beautiful, charismatic woman looking for all the world like a sack of potatoes – slouching around in black leggings and top covered with what looked like a white harness, the purpose of which was a mystery unless it was to hold everything together. The granny sandals on which she lolloped from side to side in a kind of geriatric daze added to this bizarre spectacle which was topped off, literally, by an unconvincing blonde wig.

By the time we arrived at the O2 we were worried. Had our group of lawyers thrown away all our hard earned legal aid fees on another doddery old girl crippling across the stage on a zimmer-frame, living on her former glory days?

Not one bit. To the tune of Hello Dolly, on she came, this tiny little bird-like creature in her rhinestones and stilettos, wig to die for, grabbed the microphone and belted out Jolene, 9 to 5 and a host of other hits, old and new, all the time dancing and skipping across the stage like a spring chick.

Let’s face it, Dolly makes no secret of the amount of reconstruction and upholstery her ageing body has endured “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap”. But what is it that sets apart these two 68 year old legends?

It has nothing to do with a nip here or a tuck there. It’s about poise. It’s about the way Dolly carries her (admittedly not 100% natural) self. It’s her posture; it’s her elegance. Mostly, it’s that she doesn’t slouch.

Let this be a lesson to us women of a certain age. Posture is everything. Let the nipples lead the way!

And with that thought we left, our bosoms full of Dolly , heads held high, shoulders back, stomachs in,
nipples at the ready.