The 11-year-old breaks it to me gently. I am in many ways a good person, she says, but I have trouble with both glamour and dignity.
|Me having trouble with glamour and dignity|
She tells me that, since it's Sunday, she's prepared to sacrifice half an hour to school me in both and thereby make me feel better about myself.
My friend's two daughters are surrendering a chunk of their Sunday for a similar purpose. We are both manhandled into seats, the reading lamps are aimed at our faces and an assortment of weaponry is brandished.
My friend's transformation appears to be unfolding serenely across the other side of the room...
...but, before long, my 11-year-old's zeal starts to falter. 'Your spots are using up all my concealer,' she laments, surveying the dwindling stick of pink unguent.
She flinches as she daubs on blusher and encounters an obstacle: 'You've got bristles growing out of your mole!' she informs me indignantly.
Then she reaches for something brown and gloopy - 'I'm just using a bit of this to hide the bald bits in your eyebrows' - before finishing me off with a rainbow palette of eyeshadow. This last stage in boosting my self-image presents problems that my beautician has not encountered before. 'Gosh, your eyelids are wrinkly - your eyes are hidden under great folds,' she says. 'No offence - I'm just a bit shocked.'
The half hour approaches an hour and I still haven't scraped the mud off my Sunday boots. 'She looks like Baby Jane!' squeals the 9-year-old gaping at my mask of pink grease and lopsided ringlets.
The 11-year-old starts listing the facial flaws of various celebrities and I feel bound to explain that beauty can be inner as well as outer. She puts down the hair tongs and surveys her handiwork. 'I think,' she concludes with an air of defeat, 'that yours must all be inner.'
|Baby Jane (left); Me (right)|