I am going to do something I promised myself I wouldn’t do: show you a photo of the Plastic Mancunian.
I had decided not to do allow my ugly mug on this blog in case it scared the children. However, in this case I feel it is necessary to highlight the subject matter of the post.
It all started two or three years ago when Mrs PM decided to augment her self-taught amateur photography skills by joining a local evening class. Off she would go every Wednesday, armed with her digital SLR camera and a bucket of enthusiasm. She would return with a huge smile on her face and stories about the people on the course, the topics being covered and some of the new techniques she had learned. I would dutifully walk around with her as she wondered around taking photos of absolutely anything. And she was good – very good.
And then came that fateful day.
She returned home looking perplexed.
“What’s the matter?” I said.
“I have to take photos in the studio at the college.” she replied. “It has to be of a person with the theme Style With Attitude. I’m stuck.”
Being the devoted partner that I am we discussed how she could achieve this. Being into rock music in a big way, I suggested that as a theme. I picked up last month’s copy of “Classic Rock” magazine and said
“Take a look through this. Rock musicians have style and enough attitude to terrify an army of robots. You’ve got all sorts in there.”
In fact there was a picture of Gene Simmons from Kiss in his glory days of the seventies, full of make-up and showing the entire world how long his tongue was.
“What about him?” I said.
“Brilliant!” she replied.
And then it happened.
“Will you do it?” she squeaked.
“Absolutely not.” I replied. “There is absolutely no way that I am putting on makeup. There is absolutely no way that I am sitting in a studio looking like an arse. There is absolutely no way that I am allowing you to take photos of me covered in black and white paint to show your friends.”
I was resolute. I was determined. My mind was made up. I would not do it.
Ten minutes later we were discussing how to apply the makeup to my face.
I don’t know what it is about females but they have this way of persuading men to do whatever they want. I don’t even recall saying “Okay – I’ll allow you to make a complete arse of me.”
As the fateful day approached, I discovered three things.
First, there was a former work colleague of mine, Martin, on her course. My attempt to keep this little project a secret would therefore be blown out of the water.
Second, I naively thought that if she had the studio for three hours we could apply the make up there, take the photos and then I could remove the makeup and go. Wrong again. She needed the full three hours to set up the lighting, familiarize herself with the equipment and take hundreds of photos, most of which would be discarded. I would have to have the makeup applied at home and get to the studio in full view of everybody.
Third, the studio session was booked for Wednesday night, which meant that the college would be full of students, and worse, my former work colleague would be there.
On the day, I left work early and arrived home in trepidation. Mrs PM sat there for almost an hour painting my face. I could hear the cats sniggering – treacherous felines that they are.
After she had finished, she was so proud that I couldn’t express my true feelings. I stared at myself in the mirror and almost passed out with embarrassment. When I put on the black wig, I almost frightened myself to death.
Thankfully, Mrs PM wouldn’t let me put on my glasses in case it smudged the makeup so on the journey to the college so I was oblivious to the stares I was getting. Mrs PM kept sniggering all the way there (a full fifteen minute journey) because people were openly laughing at me.
When we arrived at the college, Mrs PM led me through the crowded foyer and up three flights of stairs. We arrived at the studio and found the door locked. Mrs PM said
“Wait there – I need to get the key. I won’t be long.”
She left me standing there in a crowded corridor for ten minutes, with seemingly hundreds of people walking past and trying not to laugh. Some people actually spoke to me.
“Where’s the fancy dress party?”
“Are you the Joker?”
“Are you ill?”
“Very good. Is it Hallowe’en?”
After an eternity, she returned and said “Martin’s here. He wants to see you in your makeup.”
“Martin can f**k off” I snarled.
I discovered that we were actually sharing the studio with another female student whose idea of style with attitude was to photograph her friend in a variety of delightful poses. All that separated the two girls from Mrs PM and the monster was a black curtain. The other student peered around the curtain and said “Hiya” to Mrs PM before saying “Bloody Hell!” the instant she saw me. I must have scared her half to death.
For the next three hours. Mrs PM barked instructions at me, making me snarl, pose, headbang, grimace, leap up and down. The other two girls in the studio were laughing not so much at my face but at the way Mrs PM was saying “Snarl at me, baby. SNARL!! YOU’RE ANGRY – SHOW IT!!!”
At the end I grabbed Mrs PM’s bag of makeup remover and ran to the disabled toilets to remove the gunk from my face. There was no way I was going to let Martin see me like this.
Guys, have ever tried to remove makeup? It is impossible. I spent about half an hour scrubbing my face with goo. The black and white makeup blurred into a putrid grey colour that made me look like death warmed up. Mrs PM knocked on the door – “Are you OK in there?”
“Yes,” I grimaced, scrubbing my face with the toilet brush in desperation.
Finally I managed to get it all off – or so I thought.
I returned to Mrs PMs class and shook hands with Martin (who I hadn’t seen for a while). By this time, Mrs PM had shown the entire class the photos and they had been well received. Martin laughed, but only when I closed my eyes – I had left black makeup on my eyelids. Also my face was red raw where my attempts to get rid of the makeup had actually removed flesh.
Of course, now everybody has seen the photos. In fact, one of the photos was blown up to three feet square and hung up in the canteen. How embarrassing. The good news is that you cannot really tell that it is me in the photos. My hair is short and blond and I wear glasses. People have remarked “Is that really you?”
That’s another reason why I have decided to post the photos. Here are a couple of them (including the one that was blown up):
For those of you who have never seen Gene Simmons in his full glory, here he is:
Can you spot the difference?
Mrs PM has now given up the course but still takes lots of photographs – of other things thankfully.
I’m pleased with that – I have only just recovered. I’m sure there’s still makeup somewhere on my face.