In theory, we could be approaching a time when the demographics of American and European society – the moment when the ‘boomers’ who so lionised youth are themselves confronted with the realities of their own middle years and the prospect of what lies ahead – might bring some changes for the better. It is frequently suggested within the mass media that this generation, with its economic and political power, with so many of its members safely in positions of power and influence, and with its proven ability to activate social change, will finally change not only the socio-economic realities of ageing but our perception of age; that they may even possess the wherewithal to defy temporality. ‘I won’t grow old like my parents did’, is the unspoken message that so many middle-aged celebrities – rock stars, actors, ex-models, whatever – seek to stress within interview

or profile, in each posed photograph. The current vogue for female celebrities to remove their clothes and pose semi-naked, even if they have never before been seen in such a state of déshabillé (as is the case with demure cake-maker Jane Asher and Aga-saga writer Joanna Trollope), is part of the defiance of this generation. These images are their proof that the passage of time has not and will not affect them as it did their unfortunate mothers, aunts and grandmothers. These photographs appear everywhere – even in that bastion of Middle England, the Radio Times. This particular trend for older self-exposure in fact began in the pages of Playboy, when Ursula Andress celebrated her sixtieth birthday by recreating her famous emergence from the Caribbean, bikini-clad, in the very first James Bond film.