So, here’s how it all started. In the beginning I stumbled through the whole process of setting up this site with only minor mishaps and diversions, such as scrapping the first three blogs completely instead of publishing them and then binning the whole shebang the very next day, but, bit by bit, by some miracle or another it all started to come together and I realised that the easiest way for me to publish each week’s discourse was simply to push the ‘publish’ button and let it get on with whatever it is that it got on with. I added bits and pieces to my site as I went along (as soon as I understood what they were for) and, slowly, slowly, slowly it all started to fall into some sort of shape. At which point I was informed that I should have an icon – not someone to worship, you understand, just a little picture by which, apparently, I was to be recognised on search engines and the like. Now, this being an extremely amateur little enterprise, I did not have one (actually did not know what one was) and I wasn’t entirely certain that I wanted to be recognised on Google anyhow. However, after a little reading, I decided I should have one. I decided I would draw one. I decided I would draw me. The result wasn’t great, but it was ok as long as you kept it small: it did the job. Everybody could now recognise me on their search-engine of choice. Everyone, that is, except me… You see, day after day I open this site. Day after day I see my little icon and day after day I wonder ‘Why did I draw a picture of Kenny Rogers?’ It’s quite disturbing to look into the eyes of a picture you have drawn of yourself only to see Kenny Rogers staring back at you. More so when you realise that he is twenty years your senior. I mean, looking twenty years older than you are is one thing, but looking like an octogenarian Country and western singer is quite another (and there’s probably a song in there somewhere)…
So, what to do? I toyed with the idea of finding a photo of myself from twenty years ago and drawing that instead, but I worried that I might just wind up looking like a twenty years younger Kenny Rogers. I toyed with replacing my drawing of me with a photograph of Kenny himself, but I guessed that if they should ‘whiff it out’, his ‘people’ might not approve and, his financial muscle being somewhat more toned than my own, there could be only one winner in the subsequent case of Rogers, K. (multi-millionaire) versus McQueen, C. (impecunious ginger geek). Oddly, if it is any mitigation, by some process unknown even to me, I do know all the words to Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love To Town) but I don’t see that counting for much when the lawsuits start to fly.
Of course, I do have to question what I was thinking about when I drew myself in the first place. For those of you who like to read between the lines, I can only wish you the very best of luck – I have enough trouble just tottering along them – none-the-less, the pen was in my hand, the page was blank and I could have drawn anything. I decided on a picture of me because, quite frankly, I couldn’t think of anything that better identified me than my own face. I could, though, have drawn myself in any way I desired (if only I was capable). If I wound up looking just a little like a more distinguished Brad Pitt, a more rounded Johnny Depp, or even a slightly more zoetic Clark Gable, well, where’s the harm in that? To discover that I subconsciously see myself as an ageing Country and Western tunesmith begs serious questions about self image. People always tell me that I look much younger than the ninety-six years of age that I tell them I am. I have kept all of my hair, most of my teeth and a substantial – although ever more easily countable – number of marbles. Can Kenny Rogers claim that? (I have just looked him up on Google and, yes, he can.)
My original plan was to use a little stick man with a question mark as a walking stick for my icon, but I found the issues surrounding stick man copyright to be prohibitively complicated and my fall-back plan of taking a selfie of myself (of course) with a crudely drawn question mark attached to my head with a rubber band proved to be well beyond my failing wit and manual dexterity. Self-caricature seemed reasonable. I can draw a little. I would, of course, strive to ensure that my likeness was not over-flattering: that I did not emerge from the process looking twenty years younger or twenty pounds thinner, when all I should really have been aiming for was twenty percent less like the erstwhile Mr Rogers.
And it’s not even that my little icon doesn’t look like me. If asked to guess who it is, I would be my second choice (a metaphor for life if ever there was one). Maybe it says something deep and meaningful about being me (extremely doubtful, I agree). Maybe it says something about the very origins of humankind; tells a tale of common ancestry and shared DNA… More likely it just says something about what a bloody awful artist I am.
So, am I going to change it? Probably not. I think it looks quite like me (although I also think that it does look like Kenny Rogers and I don’t think that I look anything like him, so how does that work?). More importantly, it doesn’t bear any resemblance that I can see to a cruel despot, a mass murderer or an in-between-careers boy band member, so I have to be happy with that. I actually quite like it and, let’s face it, if one or two fans of the great man should stumble upon my blog expecting to read some pearls of wisdom that may have dripped, honey-like, from the hallowed lips of the man who sang ‘Coward of the County’, well, having got here they might just decide to stay and settle for this drivel instead, so, it’s not all bad is it?