I’m looking at myself in the mirror and I’m thinking “Just look at the state of that!” I guess all I’m really seeing is the face of a middle-aged bloke but at times I reckon I’m in need of what the young ’uns call a makeover. After all, how can 55 be the new 35 if you look 55? Answer me that one, trend-setters!
The grey hair. The red nose. The bags under the eyes you could carry a big weekly shop in. The fact that one ear is further down the face than the other, as though that particular ear is like a bungalow built too close to a cliff. The lopsided mouth. The eyebrows like a privet hedge. The stubbly bits where the shaver didn’t quite work. The hairs like marram grass sprouting from the nostrils. The lines on the face that should denote experience and maturity but somehow don’t.
I finger the lobe of my ear, the one that’s sliding down my face. Should I get an earring? A big round one like a pirate? Perhaps not: it would make the face even more wonky. A little stud of an earring, gleaming in the dark? Maybe.
The grey hair: somebody said to me the other day that I’m known for my thick mop of grey hair and that made me a bit despondent. I’ve tried to do all these things for all these years and all I’m famous for is my silvery quiff. Maybe I should get some of that stuff they’re always advertising on the telly, the balm or gel or whatever it is that darkens your hair. The trouble is it’s no good having young hair and an old neck, as Ronald Reagan always found to his cost. Frankly, it looks ridiculous. Mind you, I went grey gradually so maybe I could go dark gradually, over a period of months, like a tree going from summer to autumn. Or how about a real change: purple hair or green hair? Now that would make them stare on Doncaster station when I’m waiting for the London train. I don’t mind being stared at, it’s people offering me their seat I can’t stand, or asking me in a fish and chip shop if I want the pensioner’s special and asking me slowly and clearly as if hairs in your nose made you deaf. So I’ll dye my hair green and get a stud in my ear. Perhaps.
I sometimes see men my age who’ve not gone that far but have gone a little way down the road: they’ve got bracelets on, or necklaces. Now I’ve never worn a bracelet or a necklace in my life but maybe this is the time to start, even though I’ve always thought they look a bit daft. One of those stringy bracelets hung loosely round the wrist would give me a man-of-the-world appeal, I reckon. I’ll practice with a rubber band for a bit, get the feel for something alien on my skin. Or a necklace: a leather thong of a thing with a metal bit on. I’d feel like a mayor, I suppose. Or a fool.
A tattoo. Now you’re talking. Nothing outlandish, of course. No “cut here” across my forehead. Maybe just a little swallow on my arm or three ducks like my auntie used to have on her wall.
So that’s settled then: I’ll dye my hair green and get a stud in my ear and a bracelet and necklace and a subtle but classy tattoo. I’m not having a mid-life crisis, am I?