Ageing with attitude: Friendship can keep you feeling fabulous

AbFab hellraisers Eddie and Patsy know the value of friendship. Margaret Jennings looks at the links between female friendship and wellbeing.

Ageing with attitude: Friendship can keep you feeling fabulous

THEY declare that 60 is the new 40 and then go on to prove the point by behaving as wickedly as they ever did, two decades ago.

Though the morning after the debaucherous night before now requires injectables and Botox taken from “the stem cells of two-year-olds” to plump up their faces, the two buddies stumble on, propping each other up throughout their madcap life.

Welcome back to the world of AbFab, sweetie darling, where the outrageous fashion PR Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and her hedonistic magazine editor pal, Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), seem to have changed little since you first saw them in the TV sitcom in the 1990s, as they continue to drown their days with bubbly and to puff ciggies like there is no tomorrow — this time on the big screen.

Absolutely Fabulous The Movie is a candy floss romp but though partners in crime Eddie and Patsy are cartoon characters — and always were — the fact that they are still best friends after all the years, is one aspect of their booze-filled, bong-inhaling life t ordinary mortals might relate to.

Though they may have few morals worth emulating, Eddie manages to pass one wisp of worldly wisdom in the film, to her 13-year-old granddaughter Lola, when she says “husbands may come and go but my friend has stayed”.

In reality, the actresses have been friends for 25 years and screenwriter Saunders, 57, has said the decision to write a movie version of the sitcom was spurred on by Lumley, 70, who joked they had to “do it before we die” — as only a close buddy could say.

Six years ago, when it emerged that Saunders had recovered from a nine-month battle with breast cancer, it became apparent how her loyal friends had protected her through that time from the media spotlight.

When the news broke, Lumley stepped into that spotlight for her friend and said: “It was something that she wanted to handle quietly and without any fuss.

"We’re all thrilled for her, and very proud of her, for having won the battle, but, even now, it’s not something that she wants to talk about.”

Another acting duo, who are also longstanding friends, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, discuss the value of their female friendships in a very entertaining TED talk.

In their Netflix show Frankie and Grace, featuring two 70-somethings living together, after their husbands leave them to marry each other, we watch them develop a warm supportive relationship, despite their characters being wildly different personalities.

In the TED talk Fonda, a very vibrant 78-year-old, talks about the different types of female friendships there can be.

“There’s all kinds of friends — business friends, party friends. Some friendships feel spiritual, because it’s a heart opening.

"We go deep. I find that I shed tears with my intimate friends, not because I’m sad, but because I’m so touched and inspired by them.”

Women don’t have to be alike to bond on many levels either.

Fonda and Tomlin first became friends when they worked together in 1980 on the comedy film, 9 To 5.

Tomlin says: “On 9 to 5, we laughed so much. We found we had so much in common.

"She’s Hollywood royalty. I’m a tough kid from Detroit.

"We were so in sync as women. We laughed so much we probably added a decade to our lives.”

They both wonder if there’s a link between female friendship and health, and think it might just be the reason women tend to live longer than men.

Numerous studies point to how social contact helps us age positively and influence our longevity.

But when it comes to female friendships, it’s clear that women tend to seek out emotional support from each other, more than men do, a protective factor which may work in their favour.

Research from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to lead a joyful life.

The research went so far as to suggest not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to health as smoking or carrying extra weight.

And though social media can never replace one-to-one contact, the positive pay-off to our health of allowing us to rekindle links with friends from our past and maintain those we have, is not to be sniffed at.

At the end of the day it’s about knowing your buddy is there for you in sickness and in health — like Lumley was for Saunders.

Buttered up

As we age, we are warned even more about the unhealthy risks of using butter, but a new US study found no significant rise in risk of death or heart disease for people who used it regularly.

The researchers, funded by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, reviewed data from nine studies that included more than 636,000 people living in 15 countries.

Average butter consumption ranged from about one-third of a serving to just over three servings per day with one serving being about one tablespoon of butter.

All of the results were associations only; the study was unable to prove any cause-and-effect relationship between butter consumption and health outcomes.

Facing up to age

French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, Mireille Guiliano, €8.55

Mireille is the author of the bestselling book French Women Don’t Get Fat and has followed it up with this equally catchy title.

This time she shares the secrets and strategies of ageing with attitude and joy, offering personal anecdotes while “divulging French women’s most guarded secrets”.

However it has received mixed reviews, with some readers bemoaning that there is very little about French women at all — and stating the obvious fact that they do get facelifts.

More positive responses point out that Mireille does in fact give some good lifestyle tips on fashion, skin care, exercise and how to age in a proactive way.

Ageing quote

"Either you run the day or the day runs you"

— US entrepreneur Jim Rohn

Silver surfer

How long you should nap to get health benefits

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