You feel 16, you might even look 21, but the cruel hard truth is that if you’re over 40 you’re old… in the eyes of colleagues and employers at any rate. So how do you overcome this ever-increasing hurdle? Do you sink or swim? Just follow our 10-point plan to pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes…

Play your cards close to your chest

No one need know how old you are unless you tell them. Of course inviting everyone along to your 50th birthday bash is a bit of a giveaway. If you happen to look younger, then prepare an age you are comfortable with – that’s realistic – so that when someone asks you, it just rolls off the tongue. There’s nothing worse than replying with the words “I don’t talk about my age. It’s a sensitive issue” because then everyone will be desperate to discover how old you really are.

Dress the part

Even if your looks don’t necessarily belie your years, try to dress young – although not to the extent that you’re baring your midriff and showing your belly button ring.

Dye your hair

Yes, there’s nothing more ageing than greys, and in this day and age, it’s even acceptable for men to do it. Just go to a good hairdresser who will blend in the dye – you don’t want to end up with a DIY two-tone look.

Don’t behave like a fuddy duddy

Okay, anyone younger than your good self is bound to be an irritant, but hey, it’s time to be tolerant. Don’t start tutting when you hear them relay tales of the previous evenings escapades or call their ipod choice of music a “bloody racket”. Remember what you were like at their age and try to relate to them.

Watch your references

Especially when it comes to popular culture. Kids’ TV programmes, pop records, radio shows – they will all date you. If you make a reference to something no-one’s ever heard of, clearly because they have yoof on their side, cover it up quickly with “My mum used to tell me about it” or “I was so small I can barely remember it”.

Don’t dance like your dad at the Christmas party

This will age you like there’s no tomorrow. As will getting excited about Bananarama or The Carpenters. Equally pogoing to the Sex Pistols will show signs of life from a bygone era. Just remember to be restrained when the Arctic Monkeys are playing – or people may suspect you’re doing a Gordon Brown.

Be quirky, charismatic and fun

Show them what a character you are, and what an excellent laugh they can have with you and they’ll soon forget the age gap. Never use phrases like “I think I’m too old for that”, even if you’re joking – colleagues will register it and remember it.

Don’t be caught fretting over your pension

Young people never pause to think about their pension contributions or the fact that one day they too will be old. You’re quite justified in worrying about how you’ll live on peanuts, just do it quietly in the privacy of your own home.

Get to the top before the young turks

The best position to be in if you are “old” is firmly perched on the peak of the pyramid. This way you can do all the bossing without worrying if you’re going to get the push. Who’s going to make you redundant now, eh? Well, possibly an ambitious young turk... Just make sure you recruit an army of fellow oldies to help you man the defences.

If things get bad, go legal

With the new anti-age discrimination laws, any jokes made about your age means you can threaten to sue. Take your grievance to human resources if you like, but seeing as they’ll take aeons to sort it out, and at your age you can’t exactly play for time, you may be better off going straight to the top. The MD will be so petrified that the matter will be sorted out before you can say Stanna stairlift.