Monday, 1 February 2010



Whenever I feel despondent about having lost whatever looks I ever had I think about poor Natalie Portman.  Beautiful though she is these days it must be a hard thing to live your life with celluloid evidence that you'll never ever be as breath-holdingly, mind-blowingly , eye-tremblingly perfect as you were for a few fragile months when you were thirteen and made a film called Leon.

I cheered myself up with this thought after a visit to the doctors that had made me feel, well, worse than I felt before I went there. 

My upset feelings have upset my skin. I've been answering questions in a troublesome legal document called 'Further and Better Particulars" Better? As if the particular points I've already raised were not good enough? Or do I mean nasty enough? Legal language gives me a wry smile. However, since the allegations are serious ( at least, to me) I've tried hard to answer precisely. But it isn't easy to take the most painful time of one's life and re- examine it forensically, with diaries and notes. Remembering how my difficulties at work impacted on X is the hardest part: the number of times, late at night, we waited for the bus in rain,sleet and snow. No wonder she got chest infections. Her first words were 'nice hair' courtesy of an ill-considered brief resulting in a whole weekend cooped up watching the same commercial over and over at the editors. Reliving it all makes my skin flare- up, tender and painful. 

The doctor prescribed penicillin and suggested that, now I was fifty, I should answer a yet more questions - this time for some NHS survey: how was my eyesight? Had I noticed becoming deaf? Had I broken any bones recently? Needed a hip replacement? Was I still still steady on my pins?Did I get confused? Was I forgetful?

'Um, these questions are the same if you're 80,' said the doctor, 'so you may think they don't apply to you yet.'

Trouble is, lots did: eyesight- dreadful, confusions- yes, deaf- yes, I've really noticed how hard it is to hear people these days, especially on my mobile. I clutched my toddler and and tried not to feel as old as Methusula or, at least, Silas Marner. I'd been feeling quite jaunty up till then, attractive, even. Ha!

On the way home a friend called and reported excitedly that he'd seen a girl in a bar the day before that looked a bit like I did when I was thirty-ish, 'it made me remember what you were like in your prime,' he said. 

'Prime? What? Like meat?'

' Yes, you know - before you went off a bit,' he said cheerfully. I turned off my mobile so viciously that I accidently discovered the volume switch. So, on the plus side, it seems I was confused- I'm not quite as deaf as an 80 year old. 

Maybe it's not eczema that's breaking out, maybe it's the maggots tunneling out of my decaying skin.  I don't really care for myself. There's something rather liberating about having 'gone off. I can wear pop socks, skirts with comfy elasticated waistbands, jumpers that smell of mothballs and no one will care. Except someone will. Poor X,an old bat for a mum is not a good look at the school gates. 

As for the 'gone off' problem - I'll just have to style it out somehow, like Quentin Crisp or Barbara Cartland. Any style tips anyone for a mummy the NHS have in mind for an ear trumpet? 




















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