Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 23 January 2016
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.