Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 23 August 2012
What went right?
I get the strong impression that everyone is on holiday around here now. Good-looking bar-maids are thin on the ground, old-hands on the check-out tills of the supermarket are missing and only replaced with the odd school-leaver, and the radio has a higher percentage of pre-recorded items during August in the same way it does over Christmas. Those of us who have stayed behind are suffering from frayed tempers - driving is a bit more fraught than usual.
I have just sent off to renew my passport, but whether or not I get a chance to use it before October is doubtful. In the last ten years since my old one ran out, I have noticed a subtle change in the photo-booths that we are all forced to use by the Passport Office (you are not allowed to print your own).
The old photo was sticky to the touch when it came out of the slot about 4 minutes after being taken, and made me look like the criminal that I truly am beneath this thin veneer of civility. I was surprised at how many countries allowed me through their borders with a picture like that, but I suppose they needed the revenue.
Then - a few years later - I had to renew my gun licence and went back to a photo-booth which had replaced the old bromide one. I was amazed at the difference. I had rushed out early in the morning with a hang-over and I hadn't even had a wash. I stared blearily into the reflective glass plate until my face was framed with a red box, then pressed the button. The prints popped out as dry as a bone a few seconds later, and when I looked at them, the old love-affair with myself was renewed afresh. This was the best picture of little me that I had seen for years - years filled with alcohol and onanism which had (through everyone else's viewfinder) taken their toll.
At the time, I had thought that this must have been a happy accident, and vowed never to be photographed again unless I had just got out of bed having consumed at least one bottle of wine the night before. It seemed to suit me.
Then yesterday, I found myself in a photo-booth in the post office of another town when it was mid-afternoon, clutching my filled-out application form whilst shovelling pound coins into a stupidly up-hill slot and failing to catch them as they fell out again at every first attempt. By the time the flash went off, I was in a pretty foul mood, which is what is required of you when having your photo taken for a British passport these days. Any hint of a smile and they send the whole thing back and force you to begin all over again, which will guarantee the correct expression to be presented to border controls all over the world, once and for all.
Exactly 30 seconds later (there was a count-down mechanism on the screen) the prints popped out of the slot and - bugger me - I hadn't looked so good since I renewed my gun licence. I looked so good that I would have buggered myself if such a thing had been possible - especially in the cramped confines of the booth.
When I took the spare prints home and showed them to H.I. she remarked how good I looked in the pictures as well, so it wasn't just a rare moment of narcissism on my part. I looked closer at the prints, trying to work out what had gone right, so I could employ the same techniques with other people's cameras at weddings and parties, etc.
My hair had been softly highlighted, my jaw was set firmly and masculinely, and my Adam's Apple was more pronounced than normal. The bags under my eyes were hardly visible, and the eyes themselves had attained a clear deepness which is normally only achieved by taking class A drugs in the 'down' category. My expression was serious but calm, and the overall effect was that of a man who is in control of his own destiny - a man who any country in the world would be proud to have as a guest for a brief period - nay, to live amongst them forever! Then I remembered the 'beauty' setting on my Canon camera.
The simplest computers in the world can now distinguish between males and females, with a success rate of about 99%, so to tag a program onto that face recognition system which enhances what are classically viewed as both male and female attributes would not be so hard.
Then I remembered the mirrors in clothing shops which have a slightly warm tint to the glass, and are microscopically bent out of shape to make it appear that the viewer is a size smaller than they actually are. Women have been known to forget about the clothes and try to buy the mirror to take home with them, once they have discovered it's magical powers.
I would show you this latest portrait, but I have a hard enough job fending off all my female followers (and some of the male ones) as it is. I like a peaceful and quiet life, so I need to get away for a little break every now and then. The latest passport should help with that, as in Omar Shariff's case. He was fending off unwanted advances from young women of all ages right through his seventies as well.