THERE comes a time in everyone's life when they start to worry about whether they are past it . . . or not.

And that time comes around Valentine's Day.

There are those of us who have answered the past-it question long ago. But we know there are still a great number of you out there, trembling on the portal of middle age.

Don't be afraid. We have what they call the grey pound. Advertising people haven't really caught up with the whole euro thing yet.

You know how it is . . . young people are always too busy to listen to the news.

Nevertheless, the advertising industry knows that it needs us, and it spends millions of euro every year making the most of our timidity.

Who else is going to buy all those vitamins, tote bags, and Olay wrinkle creams? Who else has only recently learned what equity is, and that we might actually have some? The best thing that we can do is embrace this fascinating new life stage.

Any social minority will tell you that coming out is the worst part. Once you've done that you can relax and show your true nature to the world. A few moments' hard work here will save you a lot of time and humiliation in your daily life.

Seriously, after today you won't have to pretend that you like wearing high heels.

Or that you know what Bloc Party is. Or that you like your younger colleagues playing Bloc Party, out of their computers, in the office . . . at lunchtime.

(No offence, girls. ) Trembling on the brink is so uncomfortable, don't you find?

For those of you who are short of time we can cut to the chase straight away, and establish whether you are past it here and now. Simply put, if you don't have to ask what 'it' is, then you are definitely past it.

That wasn't so bad, was it? Have a green tea for yourself.

This quiz is unique in that it is not designed to reveal a whole new you . . . sorry about that.

Look on the bright side: at least you're not going to have to go out and buy yourself a whole new wardrobe in which to swathe the whole new you. You can stick with all those old things that don't chafe at the waist . . . I know I do. And then you can get back to the golf; or American Chopper. Whatever.

1. Do you think the greatest problem facing the country today is:

a) The mobile coverage is not total; b) The traffic; c) The bin men leave a terrible mess behind them 2. When you see pictures of the young actress Keira Knightley do you say:

a) Phwoar; b) I must get my roots done;

c) Where are that girl's parents?

3. When meeting young adolescents, do you say:

a) Story, bud? b) Have you got a light? c) Goodness, you're after getting very tall 4. In a clothing chain store, do you say?

a) Deadly; b) What about this new leftweave denim, then? c) Excuse me, have you got this is in a large?

5. Do you remember the 1974 World Cup:

a) No; b) Yes; c) Too stoned. Was it in colour?

6 Before indulging in physical intimacy with your partner do you need:

a) To have three drinks; b) To shave your legs; c) To have a little nap 7. At the weekend would you prefer:

a) To go to a party; b) To go to a nice party; c) To be asleep by eleven 8. Your life would be transformed by:

a) Tickets for U2; b) Vouchers for Habitat; c) A new secateurs 9. Do you think that tomorrow is : a) Valentine's Day; b) Not long to pay day; c) Monday 10. For tomorrow you have bought:

a) Red underwear; b) Dinner reservations; c) The RTE Guide If you answered mostly a's: You are young. Wear a scarf, you'll catch your death in this weather.

If you answered mostly b's: You are still quite young. That mortgage is going to kill you.

If you answered mostly c's: You are past it. Now we have to find a whole lot of other stuff to worry about.