“Et camera non mentior.”

I’ve had flu and all kindsa bad stuff this year – this is a performance piece – very much still in flux – being heavily edited but I’ve stuck it up anyway as a celebration of surviving the winter…so far…

I was a minor aspiring writer – well know locally,
Until ‘Richard and Judy deemed my book,
A ‘must read on your holiday’,
Spreading my fame exponentially.
People started to interrupt my incognito summer evening promenades;
White linen suit, floppy bow tie, Raybans and panama,
“Oi! I’ve seen you on telly. How’s about a selfie?” 
My agent told me,  
“Oprah’s people rang. They want you on her sofa,
Play your cards right and you’re going global.”
Meriting a modest soupcon of immortality,
I commissioned a life size portrait, 
Telling the artist,
“Bring out my square jaw fearless iconoclast side – but keep it subtle.”
The painter snapped me a hundred times in reflective mood.
Pensive, as I pondered great truths,
Matters beyond the scope of the common herd
That I, alone, could reify and regurgitate to famished souls
Basking in the approbation of,
“The man’s a genius…a giant of words…”
As I rise above the carping of my callow critics – literary midgets, 
That, while considering the flapping of flies drowning
In tepid pints of ‘real ale’ in ambient hostelries
Call me, “The Wizard of the Drivel.”
Describing my work as, “Effin petite bourgeois shit.” 
They just don’t get the breadth of it.
I posed, sardonic, insouciant,
An enigmatic ‘come and get me’ wink.
Lascivious smile playing about my lips
Wearing a “Kiss me quick” hat tonguing a 99 on the front at Brid.
He photo-shopped me cresting Pen-y-Ghent looking humbly majestic. (I liked that one).
Seated at a desk backed by a bookcase of classics –
Wearing gold rimmed lorgnettes, reading Ovid in Latin – so he said.
Standing with a triumphant foot on a moth eaten stuffed lion –
The ‘great white hunter’ khaki shorts and solar topee suited me.
Some action shots at Hay on Wye.
The artist’s last word?
“Trust me. I will reveal the unfathomable ‘you’.”
He put me on a spot lit stage,
Wearing academic cap and gown,
About to receive a doctorate, honorary, 
Gracious, modest, quietly superior.
I bought the exact robe online  
And compared myself to his ‘ideal’  
He made me a little taller,
A little broader,
A little straighter,
But, give him his due, 
He captured the essence of Moi.
I gazed at the portrait as I typed the denouement
Of my definitive exposé of the vanity,
Sexual depravity (in slavish detail) and corruption 
At the heart of contemporary society.
Something nagged. Something not right, 
Maybe the spotlight was not sufficiently bright.
A smudge around my head dulled the halo effect.
Paint flakes gathered around my feet.
As I scraped away the academic velvet cap.
My lush thick hair thinned to grey.
A scar on my forehead from a late night drunken contretemps.
My glass right eye blazed stark and obvious.
My shining teeth?  Plastic – dentures replacing
The speed wrecked natural set lost in teenage years.
My baggy saggy turkey neck flapped as I scraped.
The silk robe and three-piece suit peeled away to show
A flabby chest with cratered skin from a toddler teapot scald.
A butterfly lattice ladder after a triple bypass.
A heavy apron of belly hiding my sterility.  
That hard to scratch eczema patch.
Assorted scars from wounds once septic.
Varicose veins, bunions and a hammer toe.
Bared of paint, stood the ‘me’ nobody saw.
Naked, raw, pained, aching, ageing, confronting mortality,
The prospect of eternity through a fog of terror
While wearing the brittle facade of ‘devil may care’. 
Future adoring fans will admire my portrait on the dust jacket.
I will seem, to them, the epitome of erudite dignity.
I will scribe my benedictions on the frontispiece as they line up
In bookshops with my works hot and heavy in their hands.
They will waste their breath in idleries,
“What drives you on? Where do you find your inspiration?”
And walk away delighted to have met me,
“What a charming man,” they’ll say.
They will not observe that stately robed procession
Pushing my ‘naked portrait’ in a garden barrow.
To be pyred on a heap of autumn leaves.

© coolhermit 2023
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