There’s an old man lives in my mirror


I’ve got one of those faces that has always looked older than I am. I had always hoped I’d eventually grow into it like a puppy does with its ears, but no unfortunately it’s still moving at the same pace it always has and I’m running out of ages that I could still be before I hit “old”.

This is not a plea for help or a request for sympathy, it’s just I’ve noticed that I’m aging and not well. I’ve had grey hairs since my teens but now I’m at the 50/50 stage where it’s as much salt as pepper. My uncle calls it executive blond – something you get more of the harder you work, I must have scored on the overtime then. And it doesn’t help that I have this beard at the moment as it’s as badgeresque as my head. I do worry when my nose hairs are also turning – and hairs elsewhere that we don’t need to go into here – and why do they always manage to crawl their way to the front of the group like an annoying family member in a group shot. The joy of people pointing out the fact these paler colours exist in my hair is never-ending, but I wouldn’t dye it; well not again. The last time I tried a Blue/black colour to be “cool” but all it did was turn the dark hairs black and the grey hairs a neon blue making even more obvious what I’d done. I shaved my head a day later and never thought about it again.

Then there’s the wrinkles and boozy spiders I’m starting to get. To the uninitiated a “boozy spider” is a strange veiny-like red spider’s web on your nose or the top of your cheek making you look like your Granda. Crow’s feet or laughter lines are ever-present at the sides of my eyes and the furrowed lines on my brow are just accentuating the ever retreating hairline that makes me less like and Dec and more like Ant as the days pass. I’ll have a five head soon.

There are moments when I get a glimpse of this guy in the mirror and wonder who he is. Inside I feel the same as I ever have. Well apart from the fact that I can make almost every part of my body crack on command now – especially first thing in the morning when getting up is like a percussionist tuning up or knocking over a snare drum that rolls down the stairs. My Knees are the worst. It doesn’t help that the middle-aged spread is…spreading and those self-same knees are suffering from the added weight they have to carry but the crack and pop would put Rice Krispies to shame. I can extend my arms and both elbows click, my ankles sound like spokey-dokeys from the aforementioned cereal in the 80s and my fingers and hands are an automated glockenspiel while typing.

I make a noise when I sit down or sip a cup of tea as if it were a life affirming elixir. I own a pair of slippers and buy clothes for their practicality rather than their look. I don’t listen to radio 1 because I don’t like the music and wonder why most of the artists on iTunes can’t spell their names properly. I fully punctuate my texts and always write in proper English in them to avoid confusion. And I see half-dressed girls in the street and worry about their health not what I’d like to do to them, only that they’ll catch a cold and why aren’t they wearing sensible shoes. And a coat. And Hat. A scarf and gloves.

Looking older than you are used to be good – I never got ID’d in bars or supermarkets when buying drink. Girls in clubs and bars thought I was older than I was – a girl once asked how old I was (I was 18 at the time) and rather than answer I asked her how old she thought I was and she said 27. I didn’t correct her and it worked in my favour. When I started teaching no-one confused me for a pupil – as I have done to other teachers.

When did all this happen? I must have busy for the last decade and missed the regeneration into my dad. I’m only 34 for goodness sake – 35 in a couple of months which means I’m heading towards 40 the starting point of the guesses from pupils who try to guess my age.

I’ll always have the mental age of 5 with the sense of humour of a 16-year-old. If only the old man who lives in the mirror knew that, then he’d stop looking back at me shaking his head in dismay.


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