Grateful 27

I have what borders on a mild phobia when it comes to having my photo taken. Fine if I’m wearing sunglasses and a hat – suitably disguised – but if I’m remotely recognisable, no way. Now, depending on which way you look at it, this could be indicative of a general unhappiness with how I look. It could allude to a deepseated belief that being photographed robs my soul of some light (and might explain also why I rarely photograph people). Or it could simply be that I’m contrary and if this is the most extreme example of my contariness, then live with it, people – you’re getting off lightly.

I find myself avoiding large events where photographers are present. If I am there and see an official photographer, I make sure to tell them that I’d rather my photo wasn’t taken. I joke that I’m in the witness protection programme and can’t risk being identified. Many photos taken of me at parties and events show my hand, outstretched in front of my face – like a celebrity fending off the paparatzi. Do I suffer from delusions of grandeur?

Many, many years ago, my cousin was visiting from the UK with some mates. At dinner at home, one of his friends asked who the girl  in the photo on the piano was. When my mother told them it was me, they all looked at me in disbelief. The photo did not match reality. Later, when I was in Anchorage and my passport expired, I needed a new photo. The photographer stood up on a chair and looked down on me, telling me to stick out my chin so that only one of them would show. I did and that photo, too, didn’t match reality.

That I am extremely critical of my appearance, there is little doubt. That I have an image of how I should look I can’t deny. But am I prepared to do something to manifest that image? No way. And I can’t for the life of me understand it. I want to get there. I know what I need to do to get there. But, no. Where is Freud when I need him?







When it comes to photos of me, be they self-portraits or otherwise, I prefer black and white to colour. I can’t explain it – but I could have fun trying.

This week,  I am grateful that I am still fascinated by how I think and by what I do and by why I do it; that I have not lost my penchant for flights of fancy; and that some of the most interesting conversations I have are those I have with myself.

Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52

Shades of grey

Blessed is [s]he who expects nothing, for [s]he shall never be disappointed. I grew up with this refrain and in the years that have passed since I first heard it touted as the ‘ninth beatitude’ ( for those who missed that class, there are only eight), I’ve often wondered at its veracity. I’ve been coming to Malta now on a semi-regular basis for a couple of years and I’ve come to expect colour – the boats, the buses, the sun, the carnival, the cakes, the clothes, the faces – lots and lots of colour. And, until now, I’ve never been disappointed. When I got here late last week it was like stepping into a black-and-white movie. Or perhaps a B&W movie with occasional flashes of colour.Remember the Shane Meadows’ 2004 movie Dead Man’s Shoes where in the B&W flashbacks, the shoes were in colour? Well, a little like that.

I’m not quite sure if it’s the weather – it’s cold and windy and wet with occasional bouts of sun. Or the time of year – most people are wearing winter clothes in dark muted shades with the occasional splash of colour in a scarf that gives the impression of trying valiantly to hang on to some semblance of joy.

I’m in a workshop  on modern diplomacy – participants have come from all over the world: Nigeria, Jamaica, Bahamas, Fiji, Malawi, Mexico, South Africa, Iraq, Dominica, and Palestine. And they are in colour. The presenters – all EU based – are in various shades of grey. On Day 1 – I thought it was just coincidence. On Day 2 – I began to wonder. But on Day 3 – with each new presenter, the trend continues. And it’s given me pause for thought.  By shrouding ourselves in shades of grey are we subsconsciouly mirroring how we feel about what’s going on in our world ? Are we straddling the fine line between the black of mourning and  the white of hope? Are we taking refuge in non-committal blandness? Or am I so far behind in the fashion stakes that I’ve failed to realise that grey is in?