Facial Recognition

Have you ever looked into the mirror and thought ‘Do you know, I’m a pretty good looking guy really’?  No?  Me neither.  My features have, thanks to a life that has featured, amongst other things, a high speed teenage confluence of motorcycle and tree, several mis-placed boots in a feral rugby scrum and a randomly pelted half-brick with my name on it, a certain asymmetry about them that I like to think is pleasing but is actually, truth be told, slightly alarming if you’re not ready for it.  I’m a way away from Joseph Merrick, but I’m even further away from George Clooney.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I stand just above Blobfish.

Never mind, I’ve grown used to it and mirrors now hold no fear for me: like everybody else, what I see in the mirror is by and large what I want to see.  Photographs are not so easily coerced.  I realise how far my mirrored view of ‘self’ is slanted towards acceptable when I catch sight of myself in somebody else’s photograph.  There is no moment quite like the moment when you are puzzling at why somebody should send you a photograph of roadkill, only to realise that it is, in fact, a photo of your face as seen through a camera lens.  It never fails to shock.  A portrait photograph always looks like it was taken a split second after I received a blow to the head.  Suddenly I realise where Picasso got his inspiration from. 

It’s a miracle to me that facial recognition on my phone ever manages to pick me out from what it sees for the long periods of time it spends couched inside my pocket: ‘Used tissue, sweet wrapper, small pallid area of spongy white thigh flesh as viewed through loose stitching, a broken string of plastic beads belonging to granddaughter, face… ah yes, that’s the one, I’d recognise it anywhere: bit cock-eyed, nothing quite where you’d expect it to be.  It looks as though somebody has been messing about with my pixels.’  Nothing seems to throw it.  That it never fails to spot me, whatever my circumstance merely strengthens my opinion that there is something altogether unique about my physiognomy.  Certain aspects of my features are obviously assembled with such abstract abandon that they can never be mistaken.

I thought about it when I visited the barbers today and spent an uneasy twenty minutes swaddled in something that looked like an eau de nil shroud, staring at the alien face that glared back at me through the unfamiliar mirror.  I have been going to the same place since my current barber – a similar vintage to myself – watched on whilst his father cut my hair and I have always felt as though the mirror he uses must have been rescued from a circus skip.  We had a leisurely chat as he hacked away at my hair with a lack of restraint I have only previously observed when the chips come out at a Chinese Buffet, although I confess that I wasn’t convinced that he was giving me his full attention (particularly during a very long telephone conversation he carried out in shouted Italian with persons unseen – although definitely not unheard – on the other end) until eventually he threw down the shears satisfied, it would seem, that he had reached the conclusion of his toils, waved a small plastic mirror desultorily at the back of my bonce, pocketed my cash and waved me through the door.  ‘Your wife will not recognise you,’ he shouted.  Well, I’m not certain about her, but my phone certainly doesn’t…


35 thoughts on “Facial Recognition

  1. It’s a face, nothing more, nothing less, it’s a face. Some will love it, some not so much and to see it in a mirror is also a blessing. I think it looks fine, but I wouldn’t trade it for the one I’m blessed with 🥴 as it’s what I’m used to.

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      1. You are loved, so seen as the face goes with that person they love, they could possibly love that face you have gotten used to. Talking of loved ones, I love what you once wrote about your loved ones three small demands of you:
        That you do what she wants.
        That you do it when she wants it.
        That you do it how she wants it.

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      2. Ney lad, yer’ll never get away wi’ nowt, but tha’s still no way ta’ spe’k about yer wife like tha’ nay matter ‘ow many bloody eyes 👁👁👁👁👁 she ‘as. LOL

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  2. At the barbers, I sit, they put the capey thing on, I take off my glasses so they can easily get to the bits of earlobe they want to nick, and am instantly spared being able to see myself in the mirror.

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  3. I cracked a joke in the presence of my daughter and her friend once and the friend just rolled her eyes and told my daughter in exaggerated tones, “Dads! They’re all the same. That’s why God gives them faces, so we know which one is ours.”

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