The Millionth Me

No more! Please, no more!

Alan came over this evening to take some pictures, one of which will become the author photograph for a new book jacket. This meant another session of looking at my own dopey face on a screen for longer than is strictly healthy.

While it doesn’t have to be perfect, I don’t want to look at the book jacket on publication day only to see an entire asparagus hanging from a gap in my teeth or a sinister robed figure reflected in my glasses.

“Bloody Hell,” I’ll say, “This was approved by twelve different people.”

My task was to select three or four options from Alan’s shoot of a hundred. It’s a sort of torture to look at so many samey pictures of yourself. It’s like when you say the same word over and over until it loses all meaning, the worst word to plunge into meaninglessness being your own name. It’s a sort of existential threshing machine. I’m honestly not sure I could tell the difference now between my own long-serving face and, say, a lemon blancmange.

If I look in the mirror tomorrow and there’s an actual, factual lemon blancmange looking back at me, it’ll seem perfectly reasonable.

If you think this is vanity, it really isn’t. I don’t ever want to see the likes of Me again.

An interesting thing, at least, in looking at so many versions of what is essentially the same photograph is how the slightest angle of the head or the merest flicker of a thought on the lips can change a picture’s meaning so drastically. It’s like how the right or wrong choice of word can nail a sentence or leave it feeling too breezy or stilted. Though I don’t remember doing anything drastically different in any of these shots, the mood varies between “candidate for Young Journalist of the Year” and “it’s a good job we caught him when we did, m’lud.”

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