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Made Up

This woman walks past, her age perhaps mediated in her own head by symmetrically applied make-up: two strong horizontal stripes in a plain wrong shade of pink, hint at an imagination of cheekbones, long ago. She is all strong soap smell and hair dye and there’s at least an hour of early morning work at the coal face of capturing fading youth right there, that I can see.

I feel angry with cheap make-up companies, allowed to peddle these colours that would only, and at a stretch, enhance a baboon’s bottom, let alone a lady’s face. She deserves better than that, this lady, all scrubbed and smart but cosmetically unenhanced. I am aware I am struggling to even stand up straight out of all my own wrinkles; clothes and skin. Who am I to even notice? At least she has a spring in her step as she shoots past me shuffling on the pavement, her go-faster stripes glowing beaconlike on her cheeks.