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