Ian McMillan: Am I the fairest of them all?

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Here I am walking past a furniture shop with a load of mirrors in, and here I am posing, gazing at myself in all the aforementioned mirrors, one by one. I look in one mirror and arch my eyebrow like James Bond. I look in another mirror and stick my tongue out like a kid. I look in another mirror and put both thumbs up. I look in another mirror and pull a scary face as though I’m a Barnsley version of Edvard Munch’s Scream. I look in the final mirror and do an exaggerated double-take, amazed to see myself looking at myself amazed to see myself looking at myself. I stroll on, satisfied, mirror-addiction fed for at least the next few minutes. A small crowd regard me with a mixture of sympathy and disgust but I don’t care. There were mirrors there and I had to look at them. Does night follow day? It does. Does Ian McMillan pose in mirrors? He certainly does.

Some people can’t stand to look at themselves in mirrors in the same way they can’t stand having their photo taken; “put that mirror away!” they’ll say, ducking down behind the settee or covering their faces with newspaper like criminals being led from court. Some people just glance in the mirror for a microsecond to check they’ve not got cabbage stuck in their teeth and some people look in the mirror under sufferance, staying mirror-locked for just as long as it takes them to do their hair.

Of course, even as I’m blowing myself a kiss in the reflecting glass I realise it’s not a very Yorkshire thing to do. It smacks of vanity and self regard, two things that, traditionally, Yorkshire men are not very interested in. Think of the number of times you’ve seen a middle-aged chap looking gormless as his wife says, “Come here” and fiddles with the collar of his coat, or wipes a bit of toast from his cheek. Look in the mirror, boys, then you’d see! Some men don’t want to look in the mirror because they refuse to believe what they actually look like. They think they look like Brad Pitt when actually they look like his lesser-known brother Cess. They think they look younger than they are, by at least 15 years. They believe their hair is dark and their ears don’t stick out. Then when they do accidentally glimpse themselves it’s a shock and it plunges them into a frenzy of exercise DVDs and visits to the hairdressers, which wouldn’t have been needed if they’d just gazed into the mirror once in a while.

To be honest with you (and you’ll be thinking I’m not really a Yorkshireman at all when you read this) it doesn’t have to be a mirror for me. Any reflecting surface will do. Spoons. Old-style electric kettles. TV screens. Certain blouses. If I even get a half-image of my face I’m gurning away like a toothless granddad, or I’m mouthing the words of a popular song and holding my pen up like a microphone.

I hope this confessional column will start a trend. I hope my fellow male Tykes will discard their shyness like an old muffler and join me in the wonderful world of Reflected Glory. Let’s face it: if we don’t look at ourselves nobody else will, especially with our collars up like that and those islands of toast on our chops.