FACE, by Madam Tussaud. Botox – why it needles me!

 

Idly flicking through a magazine this morning, I was once more confronted by a beauteous image of perfection sporting the ‘au-naturel’ look.  Of course, far from looking ‘naturel’, the poor girl looked completely ‘unnaturel’.  Not one line, laughter or otherwise, marred her airbrushed and Botox’d creamy complexion. Not a mole, not a freckle, not an acne scar, not an expression of any sort, just the blankness of a death mask. Now, I don’t care what anyone says, that’s just plain spooky. As human beings, we are designed to communicate with so much more than mere words and gestures. Our faces and ability to contort them is all essential to conveying our emotions. Here are some I prepared earlier.

1.            A massive scowl when the alarm clock went off two hours earlier than intended because I still can’t get to grips with its convoluted buttony things. After two years!

2.            A hefty eye-roll, combined with a repeat of massive scowl, when husband had the cheek to complain about No. 1.

3.            A ‘blaagh’ overall contorting of the face when confronted with my morning bowl of prunes.  The ‘blaagh’ is regular too.

4.            A trembling bottom lip over a sad story about a dead dog in the newspaper.

5.            A series of nose wrinkling manoeuvres prior to hay-fever induced series of ground shaking sneezes.

The above list forms but a small part of the rigorous facial workout already indulged in this morning and, believe me, no witness would have been left in any doubt as to what message each frown, scowl, contortion, curled lip conveyed.  And that’s the way I like it, because then everyone is clear on what needs to be done to make me a happy, smiley, shiny person.

Quid pro quo, I too like to be able to decipher the facial expressions of those around me  and not just immediate friends and families, but people in general, and especially those invited into my living room via the wonderful medium of television to entertain me. Repeat, entertain me!  And not through my puzzling over how many cosmetic procedures they’ve had and awarding myself ten points for every box checked. Botox? Tick. Fillers? Tick. Collagen? Tick. Etc. Etc. Tick.

When an actor stands over the body they’ve just murdered, I want to see what they’re feeling, whether that be triumph, horror, malice, glee or whatever.  These days the only emotion conveyed seems to be one of permanent frozen shock.

Imagine a Romeo and Juliette where the principal actors have succumbed to the lure of the needle.

A.            Romeo: (sans Botox or fillers).  What light through yonder window breaks?

Here, Romeo is romantic, yearning, poetic. His face moves, whether in mysterious or non-mysterious ways is unimportant. The key thing here is that his face actually moves.  We totally get him and, more importantly, so does Juliette.

B.            Romeo: ( Botox’d to the hilt). What light through yonder window breaks?

Here,  Romeo is shocked rigid. This light through yonder window – what could it be? A bolt of lightning? A terrorist attack?  Wisely, Juliette has left the balcony.

Here’s another.

Marlon Brando (sans Botox) – I coudda beena contenda.

Imagine the phrase spoken through a faceful of frozen stuff. The stuff of Movie Lore? Not a chance.

One last, because I can’t resist.

Rhett Butler (sans Botox) – Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Said forcefully with passion and lashings of throw-me-over-the-shoulder testosterone.

Now, try the new unimproved death-masked version.  See? It just doesn’t work. Scarlett would have punched his lights out and run up them up as curtains.

(Tip:  Why not pick out your own favourite movie lines and try it for yourself.  Hours of cheap and innocent fun for all the family!)

Anyway, to wrap it up, if you’ve managed to read this far and are still unclear as to what my take on this whole cosmetic procedures (for vanity) lark is, it may be because the Botox has now reached your brain. You might like to think about your epitaph.

If you are eye-rolling and screwing up your face, in agreement or otherwise, congratulations, I salute your freedom of expression.

That’s it; I’m off to try out some more movie lines.

Clint (sans Botox) – You feelin lucky punk?

Clint (Botx’d) – You feelin lucky punk?

Oops,  no change there.

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Information Overload – Sending Out An S.O.S.

So far today, I have Googled, emailed, texted, Tweeted, Facebook’d, updated my website and blogged, all in the interests of furthering communication. What I have not done is to exchange one word with a living being. I did speak to the cat, but that was a pretty one-sided conversation and not much fun for either of us. (Summary: ‘Lizzie, did you poop in my herbs again?’. ‘Meow!’.)

Anyway, In order to cover all the bases, I have decided to sign up for classes in Morse code and Indian smoke signals, and if anybody can think of any other ‘platform’ I have missed, feel free to contact me – in whatever way you like. I’ll even consider old-fashioned, one-on-one speech.

Now, when a PR lady first decreed that I should have as many platforms as possible, I thought she was referring to footwear. I had a pair once back in the day, as the kids say between Neanderthal grunts, but one came to grief beneath a double-decker bus. My misty-eyed expression told her that she needed to disabuse me of that notion quick smart and wisen me up to the endless possibilities of technology, and how I could make use of it to promote me as a product.

Me, as a product? Surely, she meant my books? But no, these days it is simply not enough to leave the marketing side of one’s opus to others (even though they have ‘da knowledge’), one has to BECOME the product, BE THE BOOK! One has to emerge from one’s garret or the local pub blinking owlishly, suited, booted and coiffed, all ready to embark on ‘the publicity trail’.

But, as I smile winningly for another photograph (look, it’s as winning as I can make it – there are limits to how much you can pull your stomach in), dig deep for a new slant for an interview, press whatever flesh comes my way for pressing, I can’t help but wonder who really cares what I look like, or what my opinion is on the state of asparagus in the EU, or whether I have two Weetabix for my breakfast or none at all.

As a reader, the Litmus test for me has always been whether or not the author ‘gives good book’ (I love American expressions, they’re so vomitous!). Their personal attributes (or lack of the same), opinions, lifestyles etc, do not concern me one jot and I can’t help but feel that I’m in the majority camp on that one.

That said – if you would like to know more about me, you can Google, text, email, blog, Facebook, Tweet . . .

PS: I give good book!

Time To Call Time on Time Team?

Scene 1. Ext. A field in  Biggin Little-on- the-Mole

Phil-the-hat-Harding is peering excitedly into a rain-filled trench.  We know he is excited because the voiceover tells us he is, as in ‘Phil is excited as he peers into the rain-filled trench, where Carenza is up to her kagool in muck’.

Phil-the-hat-Harding

Oooo aaaahr, Cretinza, is that . . . could that be a . . . waaaahl?

Carenza-the-sane-much-younger-and-female-one

****s sake, Phil, how many times? It’s Carenza! Yes, it’s a wall. The clue is in the bricks.

Phil-the-Hat  turns and beckons furiously to the rest of the team who appear to be poring intellectually over a geophys chart. A slip of the camera angle reveals it is actually a copy of this month’s Fossil Fetish.

Phil-the-hat-Harding

Ere, lads, come and see this ere waaahl.

The team, led by Tony-the-Baldrick- Robinson, shamble over as fast as their collective age of 1004will allow. Tony peers into the ditch as the others crowd round.

Tony-the-Baldrick-Robinson

It is! It really is. It’s a . . .  wall. Well done Cortina! Is it Saxon or Roman?

Mick-of-the-clown-hair –Aston (and really dodgy woolly pullies) roughly elbows Tony out of the way.

Mick-of-the-clown-hair-Aston

That’s never a wall, Crepuscular. This ere is a richuaaal site. See that there unidentifiable something. That might have been used as an instrument of some kind or maybe an offering to the Gods.

Phil-the-hat-Harding

Aaahr, Mick lad, yer don’t know yer tesserae from yer testicles.

It’s a waaahl, roih enuff. Finest waaahl oi’ve seen in these ere parts.

Tony-the-Baldrick-Robinson

Could it be part of a Roman villa? A bath house?

Phil-the-hat-Harding

Aaahr, could be, one of the waaahls.

Tony-the-Baldrick-Robinson

This is such an exciting find, guys. What are we going to do with it?

Phil-the-hat-Harding, Mick-of-the-clown-hair-Aston, Carenza-the-sane-much-younger-and-female-one (all together)

Do with it? What we always do, moron. Bury the damn thing, so some other prat can come along in a hundred years and dig it all back up again.

Tony reaches down and helps Carenza out of the ditch.

Tony-the-Baldrick

Hey, Carrera, fancy a drink with a very old fossil? We could talk about my days as lead singer with Kajagool gool.

Carenza-the-sane-much-younger-and-female-one

Dear Lord, put me up against the wall and shoot me!

And so say all of us. Time Team – have you no homes to go to?

There Must Be Fifty Ways To Leave Your Novel

Mess about on the net, Beth

Make another cup of tea, Lee

Get naked with Gok, Jock

Take a walk by the sea

The  keyboard needs cleaning

The house is like a hovel

The garden needs weeding

There must be fifty ways

To leave your novel

And the rest. . . and I know every one, which is why my new novel is progressing backwards. When it comes to displacement activity, I am the queen. Fact, the grass outside my window grew by exactly 1/8th of an inch today.  I know, because somehow it became a matter of huge (even National ) importance that I keep my eye on it.  Which, of course, meant that I had to abandon my novel.  Later on, in the interests of research, I learnt a great deal about double-glazing and how it could transform my life.  It must be the first time ever a double-glazing salesman hung up on anyone. And, did you know, cats can be great conversationalists – well, good listeners anyway.  Bizzie Lizzie (greatest misnomer ever) sat for a whole hour listening to me read aloud from the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  We are now both experts on the Franco-Prussian war. Admittedly, it was a question of letting the book fall open any old place. We could just as easily have become experts on the lost tribe of Hopi Pygmies or fungal problems with Big Leaf Hydrangea. Speaking of which, I had to go out for a while to check that my own BLH hadn’t moved. Now, I know that as a rule plants don’t generally get up and go walkabout (unless you live where I used to in Tooting, when they generally have assistance), but you can never be too sure. Global warming and all that – nuclear fall-out from Japan. Remember those Triffids!  And, of course, that meant I had to abandon my novel yet again. Worn out by the exertion, I then had to sit down, have a cup of tea and channel surf for a while, which is when I stumbled upon The Housewives of Orange County, a kind of Barbie-meets-Frankenstein-meets-great-vats-of-silicone programme. Like all good car-crash TV, this kept me riveted for the amount of time it took Tamra to diss Gretchen, who dissed Jeana, who dissed everyone, all without managing to move a facial muscle. By the way, I guess the moniker Housewives of Orange County is because they have all been tango’d an unnatural shade of tangerine.

Which brings my word count for today to . . . Blog 435. Novel. 1. (I deleted ‘the’ once, replaced it, then deleted it again).

Come Die With Me

My name is Tara Moore and I am an addict. There, I’ve taken the first step to recovery and confessed it. But my fix comes not from alcohol or drugs, shopping or over-eating (though I’m certainly borderline on the last two and possibly the first), but from Come Dine With Me, that TV programme where five perfect strangers take it in turns to host a dinner party. Whoever gets the most votes wins a thousand pounds.  God, it’s delicious!  I don’t mean the food, though I’m sad enough to have tried one or two of the recipes – goats’ testicles tartlets with Gruyère anyone? No, it’s the houses that fixate me and especially the kitchens.  How do they do it?  How does a shelf-stacker  from Stockton-on-Fleas, Back of Beyond, manage to be in possession of my dream bespoke kitchen with a granite-topped centre island big enough to line dance on?  How did she come by that double Butler sink?  And, aaaagggh, an Aga! Not fair! I would give my right arm for an Aga, though I appreciate that might make operating it a bit difficult.

Smeg appliances! I ask you! These people have Smeg appliances. How come they have Smeg appliances? All chromey and shiny and desirable. How come I don’t! How come my retro fridge is the genuine article, an old banger with a faulty thermostat and an arthritic cough?  How come theirs is stuffed full of Pâté de foie gras, fine French cheeses and Champagne and I’m just stuffed because mine has broken down again and my gone-off fish fingers are sticking themselves up at me two at a time?

   My belief is truly beggared. And yet I can’t stop watching. And envying. And willing them to burn the bum off their confit de canard or accidentally catch their head in a food processor. Mind you, I think perhaps more than one did catch their head in a food processor or, at the very least, a combine harvester at some time or another. What else but a severe brain injury would prompt them to go on TV in front of millions of jeering, jealous people like me and show off their . . . gorgeous spotless kitchens?  How come they are always spotless, with pristine tea-towels , matching crockery and every conceivable type of gadget?  In a recent programme, one contestant had a machine that actually stripped the strings from her green beans – and it wasn’t even her husband.  Another managed to cut her thumb off with a Henckel kitchen knife, which was really upsetting as those knives cost a fortune. She didn’t even bother to wash it before rushing off to the hospital with her digit squashed between two ice packs. Self! Self! Self! Some people are downright disgusting.

The whole thing makes me feel morally superior. Sneerily superior.  It’s a Christians and lions thing, with the host of the night playing the Christian and the others gearing up to give him, or her, the mauling of a lifetime.  I find myself talking to the TV, as the host removes the cat they cremated earlier from the Aga of my fantasies, scrapes off the burnt bit, lobs on a lump of cream and ‘artfully’ criss-crosses  a couple of chives.

Then, at last, comes the bit, admit it, we’ve all been waiting for.  The lions move in for the kill, sharpening their claws on the Henckel knives, baring long vicious teeth, between which can be seen the remnants of burnt canard de wotsit.  The ambush is short and brutal and, when the smoke clears, the poor host, torn limb from limb, looks up with a big smile. ‘Well, I think that went really well.’ You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

In my own kitchen, the fish fingers a la salmonella are still swearing at me. Come Dine With Me? Come die with me, more like.