Portrait of a woman, Picasso etching from the Vollard Suite.
Yesterday a charming estate agent came to the door and we discussed property valuations in the area. He mentioned that the area we live in was largely a young area and I replied, yes not many over 60s here, like us. He turned to look at me and he said - "Are you really over 60 ? Get out of here - you look great on it". Well, lets not get too excited, the man is an estate agent and he may want to sell my house one day so flattering the owner is definitely a good first step. However I cannot lie, it was nice to be told that and I felt uplifted, in the metaphorical sense, if not the physical one, and went about the day with a certain esprit de jeunesse.
Today I brushed my hair carefully and put on my kohl and a little bit of blush on my cheeks. I put on a nicely ironed shirt and chose my necklace to match and off I went to get my passport photos for my new Australian passport. I wanted to look good for it as it has been a significant event in my life and it would be lovely to open the page and say, yes, that will do nicely for the next ten years, thank you very much.
I rearranged my hair and straightened my collar and the post office manager snapped two photos. Had I at that point known the results that lay ahead I would have said, "Cut, Cut, where is my make up artist ? I wish to retire with a glass of wine and resume the shoot after my nap when my skin will be more rested" but sadly he did not seem to want to give me those options and promptly produced them.
His assistant asked me to sign the back of the photo which I did with a flourish. This is me, the new Australian me, and here I was on my way to getting my laissez passez through the infamous Aussie borders. Then I looked at the front and my face creased slightly, but not as much as it appeared creased in the photo. I took another look. Surely not I thought. My eyesight for once is clear and tells no lies. It is strangely focused.
Those saggy horizontal bits around my neck were in strong evidence. My hair looked as if my roots weren't quite done, one eye looked bigger than the other, there were bags under each one and creases, not smiley ones, just permanent ones, sat either side of my lips which (as the regulations exacted) were not allowed one ounce of a Mona Lisa smile. My whole visage looked most miserable and god awful. Oh Lord I thought I am stuck with THIS for ten years and the next ten aren't going to produce an improvement. And to add insult to injury or is it the other way round, the photo had cut out my lovely shirt and necklace. This was, dear readers, the crudest and unkindest of mug shots with questionable back and front lighting.
Yes, what is in your head is not necessarily what appears on the outside. Never has the adage young at heart been more relevant and more loved.Stick with it !