AT what age did you feel like you were finally an adult?

Was it your 18th birthday? Or your 21st? When you bought your first car, or got accepted for a mortgage?

According to new research, most Brits claim they didn’t feel like an adult until they turned 31. While three quarters say it was becoming a homeowner that made them feel grown up, others say it was purchasing items such as a washing machine, coffee-maker, even a TV licence.

The survey of 1,124 adults, conducted by household appliances e-tailer, reveals that, as well as a house and a car, the top 10 purchases Brits believe define adulthood include a dishwasher, an oven and a vacuum cleaner. Apparently, 31 per cent of us would consider buying a lawnmower as a milestone in adult life, followed by an iron (28 per cent).

For me, it was a kettle. Going to university meant having my own electric kettle, which felt like I’d arrived.

As I child, I thought that being an adult would involve having a handbag and going to “appointments”, because that’s what grown-ups did on the telly. Sixteen was the Golden Age I longed for, because pretty much everything I pestered my mother for - from wearing strappy shoes to having my ears pierced - was dismissed with her flat response: “Not until you’re 16”.

Being 16 meant being a cool teenager, which is all little girls really want to be. But I decided I wouldn’t be a fully fledged grown-up until I was 23, when presumably the handbags and appointments would start coming thick and fast.

I basically wanted to be Rhoda when I grew up. Rhoda, played by Valerie Harper, was the central character in the US sitcom I watched as a kid, and I fell in love with her life. She lived in a New York apartment, filled with beanbag cushions and house plants, overlooking city streets crawling with yellow taxis. She had a ‘phone connecting her to “Carlton the doorman”, and she brought her groceries home in brown paper bags, which was beyond cool.

Rhoda wore colourful headscarves and denim flares, she was sassy and smart-talking - to an eight-year-old girl in West Yorkshire, she was the epitome of Seventies bohemian chic.

I’m middle-aged now, and I still want to be Rhoda. For most of my life I have wanted to live in a brownstone Manhattan apartment with a doorman at my beck and call, and to carry my shopping in brown paper bags. Who doesn’t?

My childhood idea of adulthood was also defined by watching the Liver Birds. Sharing a flat seemed like the best thing ever, and it is what I went on to do, several times over, as a student and young adult. My years of flat-sharing with friends were among the happiest times of my life, and I think anyone who doesn’t experience this young, carefree stage of life misses out.

So what does define us as adults? Is it a mortgage, a washing machine, a coffee-maker or Carlton the doorman?

And even if we acquire these things, do we ever actually feel like we’re proper adults? There are days when I feel about 17. There are days when I feel like I’m pretending to be a grown-up, surrounded by people who have got it right. There are days when I think I might just have got it right too. And there are days when I feel ancient - invisible, insignificant, incompetent, and pretty much always tired.

I now have quite a few handbags, my diary is full of appointments, and I’ve had my ears pierced several times, but being an adult is, to be honest, pretty boring generally.

Maybe accepting that means I have finally grown up.

* THERE'S nothing so bizarre as the dreams that come in our sleep. The other night I dreamt I was an undercover cop with Toyah Willcox, who was a stroppy diva and insisted I paint a radiator bright pink. The cop thing was probably from binge-watching Line of Duty, but why Eighties punk princess Toyah?

In another recent dream I was about to marry Ant from Ant and Dec, but I couldn't go through with it because I had a terrible perm.

My recurring nightmare is that I have school exams coming up, and I've done no revision. Anyone else plagued by that one?

* THIS week we had the sad news that Telegraph & Argus columnist Keith Thomson has died.

Keith wrote our environment column for many years, and was treasurer of Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank.

He lived by the morality and ethics he wrote so strongly about, and was one of the most principled people I've ever met.

He cared deeply for the planet that we inhabit so briefly, and despaired at the state we're leaving it in for future generations. His words often made me stop in my tracks, and assess my own lifestyle.

But despite his frustrations with how humans behave, Keith was upbeat, kind and friendly, and a gentle soul. I'll miss his cheery emails each week. The world is a poorer place without him.