In which I as­sess my newly sin­gle self

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - LIZ JONE'S DIARY -

WHEN YOU ARE newly sin­gle, you find your­self tak­ing stock. Do I have a beard? Am I in­sane? Do I re­ally want to get naked in front of a strange man for the first time, again? Do I re­ally want to be putting both legs over my shoul­ders like a pret­zel in or­der to have a Hol­ly­wood wax?

The an­swer to the first ques­tion is a re­sound­ing yes. I think my body is putting less ef­fort into grow­ing my eye­brows and putting its back into mak­ing the rest of my face hir­sute. I find my­self won­der­ing, as I paint on M2 Beauté brow serum each night, whether there is a time in a woman’s life when she isn’t bat­tling the el­e­ments. It would have been nice (and rest­ful!) to have just had a week, per­haps, when I was not suf­fer­ing from acne, lack of body hair and breasts, greasy roots cou­pled with split ends, grey­ing tooth enamel, open pores, weak­en­ing eye­sight and hear­ing, cel­lulite, sun dam­age, grey roots, des­ic­cated skin, too much leg hair and then too much breast, Cap­tain Pug­wash tram­lines at the side of my nose, bro­ken cap­il­lar­ies, strange speck­les on the backs of my hands, thin­ning lips, wrin­kles and a con­certi­naed fore­head. I could go on but per­haps my mem­ory is fail­ing me as well. I could men­tion, too, the mis­ery of the menopause, but for me it never hap­pened. Just as I never went through pu­berty – not re­ally, just one scant pe­riod when I was 18 – so I never no­ticed when my hor­mones left the build­ing. Not one hot flush.

I’ve been re­built, pretty much. Breast re­duc­tion, hand re­ju­ve­na­tion, face-lift, ble­pharo­plasty, laser eye surgery, tooth ve­neers, brow tat­toos, filler and Bo­tox, and now, to­day, two state-of-the art hear­ing aids. I’m think­ing about hav­ing a new treat­ment that re­grows your gums. God only knows how much black dye has been slathered on my scalp (my roots now have to be re­touched weekly) or Clar­ins fake tan ap­plied to my limbs with a mitt. Some peo­ple are trans­sex­ual, I seem to be tran­sra­cial: I’ve be­come darker over the years. The lo­cals here be­lieve I’m a Michael Jack­son trib­ute act.

And in the same way I’ve been won­der­ing why on earth I’ve worked so hard for more than 30 years, with not one day off sick, so too have I been won­der­ing what all this har­vest­ing and honing has been for. It’s as though I’ve been study­ing for an exam, but with no cer­tifi­cate at the end; not even a mar­riage li­cence. Men have never found me at­trac­tive, de­spite all of the above; David is (or was, more like) only keen as he’s wor­ried he won’t get any­one else be­fore he dies. My per­son­al­ity is off­putting, too: a com­bi­na­tion of Mon­ica Geller (hyper-clean) and Eeyore when he’s hav­ing a re­ally bad day.

I am now at the hear­ing clinic. I’m handed my hear­ing aids. It’s a de­feat, in a way. Be­ing deaf and ner­vous be­cause I’m deaf is who I am. I will no longer be the per­son who walks away when some­one is speak­ing to me. I will no longer turn to my din­ner com­pan­ion and ask, ‘What did he say?’ I am taught how to put them in. They will turn them­selves up grad­u­ally over the course of the next four weeks as I be­come used to hear­ing but al­ready I can hear pa­per rustling, work­men out­side. The au­di­ol­o­gist stands be­hind me and speaks: I can hear her with­out lip read­ing! We down­load the app to my phone so calls go straight to my ears. There is even a party set­ting, so I can hear in a crowded room. And a mu­sic set­ting: it has been years since I lis­tened to mu­sic. The only down­side is that I now hear my voice as oth­ers hear it. Much as I hate my re­flec­tion, I can­not stand the sound of my own voice. I re­mem­ber what the artist Tracey Emin told me. ‘Liz, I had to get over not lik­ing the sound of my own name. You have to learn to do that, too.’

I’ve al­ways been a tad pes­simistic (I can now hear the hol­low laugh­ter). When I had col­la­gen very painfully pumped in my lips in the mid 90s, the nurse told me sternly not to kiss a man for 24 hours. ‘Fat chance!’ I told her. Now no one will ever have to talk dirty loudly to me again. Ques­tion is, will any man want to whis­per it?


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