Selfies by Trevor Plumbly
Looking in the mirror’s one thing, but when it comes to describing yourself it can get a bit tricky. Emily provoked this train of thought the other day after her second glass of Shiraz by blurting out, ‘We need to upgrade our bios; Christ I’m still 40 in mine.’ After a re-read, I had to agree. Those scanning that little puff-piece would think that I’m bloody spotless! It comes across like a eulogy in one of those new-age churches, delivered by a celebrant who had never met me. Who the hell wants to be stuck with that sort of image? I want to be seen as interesting, well- intentioned but slightly soiled, if you get my drift. Politicians and advertisers get away with B S all the time so it can’t be that tough to knock a few lines out to jazz up the image a bit. Problem is how to sell the message without lying through my teeth?
As others see us
According to my research, honesty doesn’t seem to be the accepted policy. Take best-selling authors: reading their dust jacket bios they don’t appear to have any emotional faults, they photograph as relaxed, but pensive, in short, boring. Painting over blemishes is a time honoured practice for anyone putting themselves out for acceptance. Years ago, a separate section of newspapers was devoted to the ‘lonely hearts’ column; it was a sort of classified dating service and stretching the truth was an innocent part of the process. Cynically though, it did strike me that if the appellants were true to label why the hell would they bother advertising? Take a typical ’30ish bachelor Charles, from Hampstead, seeks like-minded female companion; interests include theatre, country rambles and good books.’ Christ! On that alone he should have been killed in the rush, but no, with slight variations the lad popped up time after time along with his female counterpart a slightly faded English rose announcing that ‘Cynthia, from Windsor, a mature lady of independent means, enjoys classical music, embroidery and 19th Century female novelists, seeks a cultured gentleman for companionship.’ Verbal ‘selfies’ at their very best.
Back then, distance dating was a cottage industry with a sorting office. A ‘matchmaker’ would tart their bios up, pair them off, collect the agency fee, and leave them to get on with it. It’s all online these days and a heck of a lot less genteel: all sorts of ratbags are lurking out there hungry to make contact, anonymity and distance are the safety nets for cyberdating and its probably just as well, Charles could well be a cross dresser from Sydney who likes strangling puppies in his spare time and Cynthia a money grabbing old crone from Florida. Cyber bios are shop windows for pretenders and, since most parties are out to kid each other, there’s not much literary talent required to start the clock ticking: plagiarise a few chunks of Ian Fleming or Barbara Cartland and its pretty much a done deal. Like the man said, ‘There’s one born every minute’. Conversely writing a bio for a blog needs a veneer of introspection and a common touch if you want the punters to buy in.
‘It’s only words’
I’ve had a couple of stabs at a re-hash and it’s not going great. It’s all very well being honest with myself but I’m not sure I want to share it with a pack of bloghounds. I’ve thought of a few lines of once over lightly stuff like, ‘Trevor enjoys lively company, in-depth discussion, partying, most music, and wine in moderation.’ Then pad that out with ‘likes children and animals’. But I’m well beyond trying to pull the opposite sex, or flannel prospective employers, so I reckon that anyone swallowing that sort of crap deserves to get lied to by someone else. I’ve decided up front is the way to go and the one I’m working on will be warts and all, portraying the inner me, try this for size:
‘Trevor’s worked hard over the years to become a curmudgeonly old geezer. Likes Grappa, Single Malt and Rough Reds, Steak and Kidney Pudding, Stilton Cheese and Tinned Kippers, Books by Stephen King, John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer. Listens to Country and Western, the Morriston Orpheus Choir and YoYo Ma.’
You might think no-one could see any virtue behind that lot, but years ago somebody did and she married me! So I’m telling you guys, when you write about yourself, honesty pays!