Fleetwood Mac once sang…
I can’t help about the shape I’m in
I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin
But don’t ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to
Oh well. I’m not really bothered what anyone thinks of me. Perhaps it’s a male thing, but I don’t give a toss what I look like. I recently visited an audiologist hoping to get some improvement in my one good ear. I walked out with a minor miracle of a device that turns certain pitches that I cannot hear, into others that I can. Throughout the consultation I kept being told things such as ‘its barely noticeable’ and ‘the hearing aid is very discrete’ and so forth. I really couldn’t care less.
You can’t judge a book by its cover… true, but 99% of us do just that all day, twenty four seven!
So, the world that sees me is one that labels in a prejudiced and harmful way and is incapable of seeing beyond the surface to the person inside the body. Being somewhat bent over, paunchy, greying and with a dress sense that would make Wurzle Gummage seem sophisticated I am constantly judged. My physical condition is such that tight clothes are not just undesirable, but over an hour or two cause physical pain. So polo shirts and tracksuit bottoms are the order of my day, any day.
Thus the world sees an aging, fat, old cripple who not only has no halfpennies to rub together, but is also clearly a thick, working class yahoo, who may get aggressive and probably smells. Were I to walk the streets late at night I am sure unaccompanied women would cross the road and if I were to take my grandchildren to the park most of the world would assume I was a paedophile!
(When Neanderthal man was discovered and a model constructed everyone assumed that this slightly ben stance was their natural form. It turns out the first guy found probably had AS just like me!)
Of course, this is a long way from the truth. I am a harmless family man who only turns nasty and fascist at the thought of anyone harming a child in any way! I claim working class credentials and am proud to have come from poor honest folk. My Kentish accent may sound as if I don’t have two CSEs to rub together let alone a degree. Yet, I have made my living with my brain, and latterly a pen for most of my working life and recon, in my dotage, I could still intellectually buy and sell most of those who feel superior to me.
I define myself these days as ‘writer’. Of course I’ve always been a writer, the difference these days is that I’ve had seven books published and several others written as well as a monthly magazine column etc.
How would a reporter for the local rag see me? He or she would probably describe me as a ‘pensioner’ or possibly a ‘disabled’. It could be worse I guess. I could be all those things and disdained even more were I female, black or gay.
In fact virtually ALL women have it worse. Reach a certain age whether you be a High Court Judge or her Char Lady and you will be levelled at a stroke by being described as a ‘grandmother of three’ or whatever.
Women are defined by age. ‘Teenage Jade…’ ‘…accompanied her forty five year old mother’ to see ‘…aging actress’ or ‘…white haired grandmother’. If she be rich enough and without progeny she may pass as a ‘dowager’.
All of this is the lowest brow description possible penned, however, by journalist from the gutter press to the most liberal of broadsheets. Pathetic.
Elsewhere I am proud to acclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’… but in this case all us put down and disdained, ignored or condemned and dishevelled old crocs should (with NO implied honour to that worst of women Margaret Thatcher) proclaim… ‘We are a grandmother’!