A FACE FOR RADIO

“An author should always make an effort to look good,” a novelist once told me. Her name was Sally and she was a tutor on a writing course. I’ve forgotten her surname as well as everything else she said, but I do remember her advice to put on your best face, even just for a radio interview.

With this in mind, I slipped into the habit of putting on lipstick even if I was only popping down to the cash machine. My three boys hooted with laughter because it was the kind of thing their grandmother did. Not their mother.

Of course, it’s impossible to look your best all the time. On the school run, mascara inevitably takes second place to lost gym kit, and, in my other life as a GP, I was often bedraggled from visiting patient after patient in the rain.

To be fair, I reckon few people expect their doctor to step out of the pages of a fashion mag. Tidy and clean are usually enough. The occasional patient, however, has a keen eye. “Bed 3 wants to see you,” said the nurse on the ward.

‘Bed 3’ – who happened to be from Tunbridge Wells – didn’t just tell me about her cystitis symptoms. She also pointed out that the hem of my dress was uneven.

I prescribed some treatment, and, when I next checked in on her, she said she was better. Then she asked when I was going to fix that dress.

I didn’t exactly follow author Sally’s advice for my first ever radio interview. It was at the end of a busy week and it was down the line so, come 6pm, I was lying in bed on the phone to the presenter. I took the precaution of using an extra pillow, though. It’s best not to sound completely dead even if you look it.

The following interview was in the radio studio. Sally what’s-her-name would have been so proud to see me arrive with full makeup and shiny hair. The listeners might not be able to see me, but the team at the station would.

As it turned out, the presenter and I never met. I was taken to sit on my own in a separate little studio.

What about the producer? Well, his guide dog thought I looked OK.

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Do you know who you’re marrying?

spray tan cropHere comes the bride in a meringue of a dress, adjusting the tiara and veil across her newly-coiffed head.  She’s weighed down with hairspray and fake lashes, and stuffed to the gunnels with chicken fillets to shore up her assets.

By the time she trips down the aisle as daintily as is possible in white satin shoes that cut off the circulation to the toes, the bride may have spent hundreds of pounds on hair and makeup.

The dress code spreads to the bridesmaids.  They too must spend the day in shiny creations that only stay up thanks to a furlong or so of boob tape.  But it’s hair and make-up that really push the boat out. When it comes to wedding get-ups, the motto is clearly ‘Less is Less’.

Why?

It’s one thing to make the most of your looks.  It’s quite another to blatantly fake it.  I’m currently resisting pressure from friends to have hair extensions that will totally transform my appearance for my wedding.

Plus it’s summer (in Britain we know this because Wimbledon is on TV).  This makes a tan essential.  I absolutely have to turn the rich shade of mahogany that can only be achieved by repeated sprayings in something like creosote.  Another pal adds that I have just enough time to book myself a boob job before the big day.  Do I want the name of a brilliant surgeon she knows?

The hell I do.

873880_wedding_days_3I would quite like my intended to recognise me on the big day, not think he has walked into the wrong registry office.  A wedding day is special, so I’ll forego my favourite Gap jeans and the flip-flops that turn me into Kurt Cobain’s twin sister.  All the same, I plan to look and behave like myself, not a fashion victim who’s deployed every single idea out of Brides Incorporated.

Wouldn’t it be a nice idea to save the money or give it to a worthy cause, and spend the best day of your life looking vaguely like the person your other half wanted to marry?