The definition of vanity is to have an 'excessive pride in one's appearance achievements and capabilities'. Ouch, Define excessive. One mans' excessive maybe another mans' modesty. Vanity is as subjective a notion as what makes a good painting but whatever it is, however quantifiable, it is safe to say that my vanity has taken a few hits recently, not least at work where I confess my opinion of myself and my achievements could in some corners be construed as vain, wholly justified in my opinion, but sadly not in the opinion of those who matter in my so called profession. That bucket of melancholy is so full I am trying hard not to let it spill over into this blog at present for fear of unleashing a torrent of vitriol and ire against those better paid than I in this establishment, but I am keen to keep my job for a while.
No my vanity such as it is, (and trust me with a mother like mine I have a very, very grounded sense of self worth in the looks department) is at best modest I in the genre of all things English am hangdog and weak chinned. I have tried to dress it up occasionally as a romanticised Modigliani but lets be brutal I am no beauty.
This has been rammed home to me by two of my closets ...what? Not friends or family...Cohabitee's, I guess that's who they are.
Emin recently bounded over to me like a Labrador puppy clutching an old photograph album. "Look, look" he cried "Look how amazing you used to look" "God you've really aged" He thrust under my nose a photograph taken 10 years ago just after Leyla was born my hair lush with hormones and my skin still plump and dewy with baby fat. At the time the photograph was taken I was dog tired and failed to see that really this was the last chance I would have to even contemplate vanity, but the damage was done on that score years ago, so that I never bothered to look in the mirror and so failed to appreciate what I had before gravity and depleting hormones shook me and spat me out a dried up husk of a woman.
As a teenager I reeked of eau de desperation seeking love at any price, I soon learned it was pointless to try and strike pose, too laughable. In fact laugh is what I learnt to do, Sod it, I don't need to see myself so why should I care what I look like? But remarks like that sting, really they do. I am nearly 50 and yes I am looking my age, I never did, but somehow life caught me up.
So imagine my surprise when walking the dog with Leyla yesterday when she said " Were you ever beautiful?" Did I need that? No, I realise that to a child I am a mother not a face but even so.... brutal and cruel, so any notion that I held that my children could at least see the beauty within packed it's bags and left the building. I explained that it was her misfortune to have a fuckugly mother so she should deal with it. Conversation over.
Clearly I am vainer than I think!