The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View -

THERE comes a point in life when things be­gin to fall off, or have to be cut off, and you spend far too much time mak­ing main­te­nance ap­point­ments or call­ing clin­ics and hos­pi­tals to find out how friends are cop­ing with the loss of a limb or a bout of em­phy­sema from a youth spent smok­ing; last week I vis­ited the skin doc­tor, the eye doc­tor and the hus­band doc­tor with in­struc­tions for him to bring home a scalpel from the hospi­tal to shave a hor­rid out­growth on my lit­tle heel. So I haven’t had any time to get to the fash­ion shows that pro­lif­er­ate at this time of the year.

To be hon­est, in­vi­ta­tions to th­ese events have been rather thin on the ground; there was a time I went to them all, some­times be­ing seated in the front row, and wres­tled with the con­cepts of frock lengths, the heights of shoes and the vex­ing mat­ter of fringes — or bangs as they call them in the US — which were or weren’t the fash­ion state­ment du jour. For years young women wore fringes that came down to their noses be­cause it was es­sen­tial to look as though you had just rolled out of bed.

There’s some­thing quite icon­o­clas­tic about fash­ion shows; you have to feel for to­day’s mod­els, in the first place for hav­ing to steel them­selves against a sker­rick of fa­cial ex­pres­sion be­fore they leap off the cat­walk to smoke their heads off in the near­est street or, among the bolder ones, back­stage. Be­ing very, very thin is an ab­so­lute if you wish to spend the young days of your life glid­ing sadly down a nar­row stage, looking like a cof­fle of ema­ci­ated slaves.

But in­stead of be­ing among the beau­ti­ful and rash I’ve been in wait­ing rooms in surg­eries, flick­ing through dog- eared fash­ion mag­a­zines feel­ing like a derelict be­ing rousted from park bench to park bench.

At least skin doc­tors don’t lec­ture you about hav­ing spent far too much time ly­ing around at swim­ming pools and on beaches; we didn’t know then what dan­gers lurked in a sun­tan.

My lat­est le­sion is on my nose or, you could say, on the nose; it is re­volt­ing to look at, at first like a fe­cund cater­pil­lar, red, green and black, and later like a nasty Ger­man cock­roach. My four- year old grand­son, who is squea­mish, has fol­lowed the nasal con­di­tion with a sort of hor­ri­fied in­ter­est. Last week he said he thought it was get­ting bet­ter. I’m quite pos­ses­sive about my zapped or­gan, so I shut one eye the bet­ter to see it with the other, and told the boy the doc­tor said it would fall off in a few days.

He al­most retched but said noth­ing un­til later, when he woke up yelling; his mother, think­ing he was hav­ing a night­mare, rushed into the bed­room, to be told by a sob­bing child that he didn’t want to see me again un­til my nose had grown back. Once more I’d put my foot in my mouth.

fraserj@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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