Saturday, 23 January 2016

Narcissus


I was going to respond to John's suggestion that we all post up old photos of ourselves in childhood, but I am sorry to say that I cannot be arsed to dig out and scan the one I think he would like the most. Maybe later.

In it, I am a bright-eyed, chubby, long-haired, blonde baby (pretty much the exact opposite of what I am today), wearing a girl's smock and reaching out goofily to something held just out of shot. This was a professional photo, I think, and all the rest were the obligatory school photos showing me in various stages of empty boredom or despair. I use one as an avatar.

Very few photos exist of me after the age of 15, and if you Google up my name in 'images', the above is the only one existing on the net. I noticed that it is entitled 'Lyers', and I am hoping that it is because we are carving stone lyres, and not because he couldn't spell 'liars'. I am the one on the left. We were refurbishing the original front of the Theatre Royal here in Bath, hence the lyres. Honest.

I think the main reason why there are so few photos of the youthful me is because I didn't really like the way I looked. If I had known at the time how I would end up looking aged 50, then I would have been a bit more appreciative of my appearance.

There was someone on the radio the other day, proudly saying that he had actually spent a whole year not looking at himself in a mirror. The (female) interviewer was astounded at this accomplishment, and I think that she secretly suspected that he could not have resisted a furtive peep at himself a few times in the year. 'How did he do it?' she asked, and he said he just shaved by touch, etc. Takes a bit of practice, he explained.

Well I was not impressed, because I had done exactly the same thing about 48 years beforehand. Occasionally I would be caught out by turning a street corner and being confronted with my reflection in a shop window, and it was truly shocking.

Then one night I was riding on a bus, and sat right in front of a glass barrier which acted like an efficient mirror. I gave in, and stared at myself for the whole journey, and by the time I had reached my destination I decided that I didn't look so bad after all, so went back to shaving by sight, using mirrors whenever I had to.

H.I.'s daughter has spent about one third of her waking life looking at herself in mirrors. She used to stand at our full-length one, turning from side to side and complaining that she had fat thighs, a big arse, the beginnings of a gut, etc. etc. She has always wanted a face lift, despite being very good-looking, and always expressed the desire to have all her perfect teeth removed to be replaced with false ones. We have - almost forcibly - had to dissuade her from using Botox, but now she has no such ambitions, having seen what Botox has done to her best friend from childhood, who now walks around with a virtually expressionless face.

I have almost reverted back to not using mirrors, and I only focus on my chin or hair when I do. I also try not to be photographed, but I suppose this is only another form of egotism. It's very difficult to strike a balance between caring about your appearance and not caring about your appearance.


23 comments:

  1. My husband and I were looking at cars in a car lot once and every time I looked up, a woman inside was looking at me through the large plate glass windows ( a cleaning crew.) I thought what is that nosy biddy looking at... You know the rest.

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    1. Yes, I have had young men staring me straight in the eyes from the other side of a window whilst combing their hair. Worrying to start off with.

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  2. When we were younger photography needed films, and those were expensive - so one didn't photograph (oneself, haha) every second.

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    1. Yes true - I no longer wait for the Japanese tourists to take the photo before walking past them.

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  3. Can't you just look at yourself in an objective way Tom? I look at myself to put on the minimum of make up and to do my hair in the morning - that;s about all unless I am going out in the evening. I can't say I think anything about what I look like as regards wrinkles, hair colour, size etc. I am way past that!

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    1. No I can't, Weave. I still fancy 20 year-old girls, that's the trouble. I have to understand why they do not return the compliment.

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  4. Get off yer arse and dig it out Tom ...... it sounds a belter. If you could manage to exert yourself even more, I've posted a topless one of me and my sister that you might like to peruse !!!! XXXX

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    1. You know all my addresses. I will sext you in return...

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    2. Ha ha! I've just seen it. The age of innocence indeed. You both look really charming. Bless.

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  5. I rarely look in the mirror, just in the morning when I comb my hair(thankless task tho' as it still sticks up all over the place. On the rare occcasions I catch myself in a mirror or window. I wonder "Who is that old bat?!" What a shock. I am still 18 inside you see.

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    1. Outside every 18 year-old, there is a 65 year old like me trying to get in.

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  6. I'm a bit puzzled by those people who seem to dislike virtually every part of their body. They must be comparing themselves to all the faked-up ideal bodies in the media, or maybe their admired schoolmates or workmates. Personally I'm quite happy with my appearance - even now at age 68 - and there's very little I would like to change or get rid of. Anyway, my wife's not complaining.

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    1. Let me guess - you're a Naturist, right?

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    2. No, never considered it. But I regularly swam naked with the other boys at my boarding school. Maybe that helped me to accept my body for what it was.

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  7. I too wish I had realized how good looking I was in my younger days instead of wasting so much energy on self-loathing. Of course, I feel it is justified now.

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  8. I like the photo. It looks a backstreet workshop in Marrakesh.

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    1. Similar facilities, without the nice food.

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  9. Reminds me of the saying "youth is wasted on the young". I don't think I appreciated my youth and was very critical of myself. Now at 51 when I do occasionally see photos of myself when I was younger I appreciate my youthfulness.

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    1. I have an ambition to skin a young person then return into society wearing the cured pelt. Heh heh heh.....

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  10. I have a photo of you and Lady M standing on those cast concrete stairs that were outside the college buildings. If I ever return to Blighty, and I can find it, I'll send you a copy (don't hold your breath).

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    1. Let me guess - I was wearing a dark blue, cotton jacket and trousers like a French workman, yes?

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