This is a strange photograph for several reasons.
That suit has stitched-up side pockets and was bought cheaply at a gloomy mall shop in Merthyr Tydfil, a town at the centre of what was once the Welsh coal-mining industry, now laid waste. When I mentioned this to brother Nick he replied: Is that something you should be admitting?
It is my only suit and is worn about three times a year for formal events, usually funerals. It never fitted, yet you’d hardly know from this shot. The only reason may be I’m walking up a steepish rise and possibly the slack bits have tightened.
The shoes are twenty-five years old and in the last stages of decay. Yet I polished them and they look good when zoomed.
I can’t ever remember my hair looking like this. It appears to be styled but that wouldn’t be me. Tousled is my preference.
Strangest of all is the expression. Years ago I learned not to smile at the camera. Not through cussedness or a desire to depress spectators. Rather that my smiles always emerged as furtive, the sort you’d expect on the face of sex pervert failing to provide satisfactory answers to the police. This smile is so whole-hearted as to arouse suspicions, that I was on drugs, intent on covering up a pang of stomach-ache or that the photographer (my other brother, Sir Hugh) was offering proof that I’d misspelled embarrass in a bylined article.
The shirt is pretty good, however. Extremely expensive.
Blest Redeemer. 132,851 words. The most I’ve ever written in one stretch. Now on the road to redemption, about 17,000 words away. Redemption is rare in real life but novelists can do what they like. That’s why it’s fun.