By the Age of 40, Everyone has the Face they Deserve.

The above title is taken from a quote by George Orwell, one which was more recently updated by Martin Amis, who said that "by the age of 40, everyone has the face they can afford." Amis' little saying may be the more apposite for our times, but there is something about the original Orwell, with its implications that all our experience, all our sins and virtues, may be written on our visages, that captured my imagination.
So, as I pass 40 this year, on December 5th, to be precise, I thought I would print here what my own face actually looks like. Up until now, readers of this blog will only have seen the picture I use of myself as a child. So, for the first time, here is what the nearly 40 year old David looks like.

Oh my, what a handsome chap I am! Seriously, though, if all our sins and virtues do happen to be written on our faces by this age, then I think, perhaps, I'm not doing too bad. Indeed, I am now quite happy with the way I look, but this was not always the case. Having piled on the pounds, due, mostly, to taking anti-psychotic medication, I became deeply unhappy with my appearance. OK, there are some who might say that appearances don't matter, are deceptive even, but if you are unhappy with yourself, I think this is a different matter, and I can attest, that since losing a great deal of the weight I carried, I have become a more confident and assured person.
And, as tomorrow is World Mental Health Day, I thought I would try to link this in some way to mental health. The best I can come up with is a little foray into the work of Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909). He was the Italian founder of the Italian School of "Positivist Criminology", which drew concepts from physiognomy, eugenics, psychiatry and Social Darwinism in its formation. In his theory of "anthropological criminology", Lombroso stated that criminality was inherited and could be identified by physical defects, which confirmed the criminal as savage or atavistic. Criminals, to him, represented a reversion to a primitive or subhuman type, characterized by physical features reminiscent of apes, lower primates and early man.
So, what has this to do with mental health? Well, as well as drawing on psychiatry in the formation of his theories, Lombroso once took charge of an "insane" asylum in Pesaro in 1871, later becoming a professor of psychiatry in 1896. So, it wouldn't be at all surprising to find that the mentally ill, as well as the criminal (and let's face it, the two are often confused, even today), perhaps fell under his deeply skewed gaze at some point or other.
Just so as you can judge whether Lombroso's theories were correct, here is a picture of an ape to compare with the one of me above.

I'm sure you'll agree that there is a certain simian similarity, descended anyway, as we all are, from ape-like creatures. But that's where (I hope!) it ends. So, I'm sure that Lombroso was pretty much up the creek with his theories, and got away with such (evil?) ideas by being protected by a cloak of intellectual and social propriety. But, as for getting the face I deserve, and considering my unwell past, I think I could probably be doing worse.


bazza said…
Sorry David, I get easily confused. Which picture is you?
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
(PS: Seriously though, I think it's actually a significant event that you decided to 'show your face'. A kind of mental coming out. Well done you!)
David said…
Dear bazza,
Oh, plese stop, my sides are splitting!
But yes, here I am, all "out" and about, for everyone to see. I must say, though, that having "googled" my own name the other day, I found that I was already quite well-known, for want of a better phrase, on the web, mostly due to the book of poetry I wrote. So, this may be significant in some ways, but if anyone were that bothered, they could easily find out about me and my diagnosis, as I laso appear on the Media Action Group for Mnetal Health's website.
Thanks for commenting, bazza.
With Very Best Wishes,
dcrelief said…
Dear David,
Did you confirm the age of the ape's face to be forty? Really, it is necessary to make sure the test sample is accurate; ahem.

Of course I was thinking you might be descended from the 'Grays of Ammalama'; the eye colouring is key!

I suppose your greatest criminal act might be swinging from a tree, and a large one at that!

David, you're gorgeous, and I'm sorry that I'm old enough to be your Mum!!

Sending peace and bananas,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Thanks for your comment.
Of course, I was secretly hoping that someone might say that I was "gorgeous". And then you came along and fulfilled my dreams!
As for being old enough to be my Mum, since when has that mattered? Oh, how I do like to engage in a little internet flirting!
Anyway dc, I will always be available to swing over to your blog.
With Very Best Wishes, and a slice of banana and tofee pie, your way,
klahanie said…
Dear David,
I knew I should of commented first. There I was, staring a my computer screen at four in the morning. However, I was too exhausted to leave a remark at the time.
Of course, if I had commented first, I would have come up with something also predicable like, 'why did you not submit a photo of you at the top?' Or if, "by the age of 40, everyone has the face they can afford." Might I suggest you sue your plastic surgeon.
Seriously, you are looking very well, you handsome chap. You should be very proud of just how radiant you are.
And a bit too much information, David. Too think you have let us know you 'googled' yourself...
Kind wishes and some mascara, your way, Gary
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for dropping by. Of course, I'll be putting in a complaint to my plastic surgeon some time soon.
And, yes, now not only does everyone know what I look like, they also know that I'm vain enough to "google" myself!
Thanks Gary.
With Very Best Wishes,
The Manic Chef said…
Well done, I think you have just entered a new phase in your life! Step by step my friend. Your looking quite good for such a young man of 40. I'm twenty years your buck up....and respect your elders!!!!!!!!!Later......
David said…
Dear Manic Chef,
Thanks. I shall certainly try to "buck up". And I always respect my elders! Just to show that I do, I will just say that you're not looking too bad yourself. You look remarkably youthful, in fact. For an old duffer, that is!
With Very Best Wishes, your way,
TRCIII said…
Actually, I'm fairly certain Orwell said this about age 50...and then died at 46, so he never achieved the face he deserved.
David said…
Actually, you're absolutely correct TRCIII. If I'd have bothered to do my research properly, I may have found that out! I'm still only 45, but I'm hoping that I make it to see the face I deserve.
Very Best Wishes,

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