WHY ARE YOU SUCH A MASSIVE POSEUR BYRON?
Just caught a glimpse of myself in the train window in my noisy Saville Row shirt and my loopy earing (thanks Katharine) and it struck me that my appearance does beg the question: WHY ARE YOU SUCH A MASSIVE POSEUR BYRON? Nobody likes a narcissist. Being overly attentive to one’s own aesthetic seems contrary to my socialist leanings. Also, taking selfies is for trout pouting tweens and self obsessed wankers, everyone knows that.
So, let me explain.
For starters, I grew up poor. I wore odd hand me down clothes and would frequently get heckled and sometimes even beaten for looking like a new romantic chimney sweep. It was the early eighties and hip-hop had gate crashed underclass youth culture like a cool older brother at school disco.
Our crew was called the Funky Fresh Five. There were eight of us but alliteration won out. We’d carry our boombox and lino the mile or so to Asda where we’d pop and lock for spare change. I did a pretty mean caterpillar. My mates looked double sharp in their Adidas three stripe wind breakers and Kangol hats.
I’d trail behind in my “Breakdance pants”. A pair of oversized trousers Mark Bennett’s mum had made me out of one of those old navy blue sleeping bags with the orange lining that would give you a static shock if you went within three feet of them. They were actually excellent for breakdancing in and I loved them, but the other kids took the piss mercilessly. I did look a sight to be fair. It didn’t help that I was a malnourished imp looking thing with a fastidiously executed bowl cut courtesy of my mum. Sometimes I’d inherit my sister’s clothes. She’d taken her style from a young Cindy Lauper which looked great on her but the estate wasn’t really renowned for being a nursery of progressive thinking so I’d leave the house in some brassy blouse and both my peers and there mullet sporting fathers would struggle to restrain themselves from vociferously losing their shit.
I’m a contrarian, so part of me relished being different, but no one likes being bullied so I guess that’s stuck with me a bit. I’ve got a bit of a ‘here I am, come at me’ chip on my shoulder about the way I look that manifests in taking selfies on trains and posting them on Instagram. Maybe I should be sorry or embarrassed about that, but I’m just not.
At school they tried to tell us that we were all equal in our uniforms. Bollocks. I wore hand me downs from my best mate. He was a year older and a foot taller than me. I looked like a toddler impersonating his dad. At least it got me out of my sister’s clothes, but it was far from a sartorial triumph. Fortunately teenagers are slow to pick up these things and were characteristically supportive when they finally did.
“Get yer mam to tek you back tut jumble sale and see if the’ll do a refund”
As a young adult I was homeless. When was the last time you thought, ‘that homeless guy is really attractive, perhaps I’ll pay him a compliment and ask him out’? …exactly. In my late teens and early twenties I was an emaciated addict with the yellow-green hue of looming death on me. Nobody was telling me I looked good. Then I upped my game and achieved my lifelong goal of being institutionalized in a series of psychiatric hospitals. Again, not an aesthetic we tend to associate with desirability. If my Tinder profile were a picture of me dribbling antipsychotics down my Noddy pyjamas I doubt I’d be the rampant Don Juan type lothario you’ve all come to love and envy. The lithium shuffle is, after all, the least sexy of all the dances.
So for the formative parts of my life I was someone that other people looked at and made negative judgments about. Judgments they often weren’t shy about loudly expressing. It wasn’t just that I was seen as physically ugly, it was that I was socially repellent. An eyesore, a problem, an unsightly blemish on the social landscape.
I’m now pushing forty four. I eat okay and do a bit of exercise. My teeth may be wonky but at least they’re my own, as is my hair. I have some nice clothes. In fact scratch that, it’s false modesty, I dress like a fucking boss. I’m not delusional about my appearance. I know I’m a middle aged, boss eyed lunatic with spock ears and a gob like a vandalized graveyard, but fuck it. Those years living on a diet of opiates and shoplifted super noodles have given me bangin cheekbones and I reckon salt and pepper is gonna be a strong look for me.
I shouldn’t even be alive, I’ve been stabbed, shot, tortured, poisoned, medicated, starved, overdosed innumerable times and I may not be a handsome man but I don’t look bad on it all things considered. In fact I’m in the best shape of my life (which, granted, isn’t saying much) and I’m only getting fitter. I can run for half an hour without collapsing. For the first time in my life I have the odd bump on me which could generously be described as muscle. Fucking hell! Who’d have thunk it? Part of me will always see myself as a scrawny, mental, smack-head, but I’m glowing up baby. I feel it. Turns out I’m a real late bloomer. I’m hoping to peak in my fifties (Fitties more like, amirite?). I’m alive, I shouldn’t be, but here I am. Here I am in my poncey shirt and my midlife crisis jewellery strutting across your Instagram like a don. So yes, I’m a poseur and if that gets on your tits then feel free to just ignore me. I’m not hurting anyone, so don’t be angry at me for it. Be pleased for me. Be like: “look at you mate, still alive, not looking too shabby on all that drama.” THEN, if you must, you can call me a poseur, and I’d take it, because you’d be 100% correct.