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I was discombobulated a few days ago by a request from a writing magazine for a high-resolution author photograph. In the middle of a lock-down. Without access to a hairdresser to perform miracles on my shaggy locks and greying partings. With the application of make-up a distant memory. Unreasonable, or what?

However, with existing pictures unsuitable, I tarted myself up, dragged some smartish outfits from the back of the wardrobe, and press-ganged my husband to come up with a shot of me looking like a serious (and reasonably groomed) writer.

Words were exchanged:

Don’t scowl.

I’m trying to look serious and thoughtful.

And failing. For goodness sake, squeeze out a smile.

But the article is to promote a book on a dark subject. Why would I be grinning like a maniac?

Oh, for goodness sake…!

After much marital wrangling, the deed was done and I sent the best of the pictures to a techno-knowledgeable friend to confirm it was of sufficiently high-resolution before climbing gratefully back into my comfortable tat. Job done.

Useless, the patient friend reported back. You need a less geriatric camera and/or smartphone.

With such extravagant purchases out of lock-down reach, I slid along to an obliging neighbour’s garden, where her son-in-law stood with me in the pouring rain and took some socially-distanced shots with his fancy camera. Result!

Ian (I will spare his blushes by concealing the surname) must have a magic camera, because the resulting picture bears little resemblance to the woman sitting at this keyboard. But I am not about to complain…

Vanity, vanity. All is vanity.