A casual glance in the mirror on Tuesday revealed an isolated pock, signifying nothing, By Friday, however, that isolated pock had became a full-blown mentigo, signifying a pustular eruption on an unprecedented scale. Pock followed pock, until by Saturday afternoon, they were fighting for space on my face like dunes on the moon.
I tried everything: laundry-grade steam, salves of mustard and fiery twemlows, hot towels infused with arnica and sosporetum, and the epidermal layer from the cheeks of woodland stoats.
But all to no avail! The mentigo had taken a firm hold, and would not be suffered to abate one jot, much less to take up its bed and walk.
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried — howled! Call it vanity, but a pock-marked face in semblance of a toad is not endearing, under any system of aesthetics. (Kant may demur, but look at the face on him.)
For days I lay prostrate on my bed, dreading visitors, shunning any contact with my fellows. Kafka’s Gregor sprang to mind, and did not bring any comfort — remember how he ended up?
But — as I said afterwards to Pilbeam of the Times — the face that launched a thousand pocks can also bounce back from the knocks and grab them smartly by the rocks to re-assert its pallor.
And that’s exactly what I did: superb trowel work (not seen since Tintoretto), and a backward glance at Michelangelo’s David — that’s all it took to create what you see before you today.
Oh, you may say it lacks expression, that it’s frozen, frigid, featureless, forbidding, frightening even.
To which I say ‘A fig for your f-words. My physog is mine own, and I wear it proudly, if heavily. How many of you can say that, truthfully?’
We’re leaving now, McAlpine. Bring the truck around.