Out and about in New York: The invisible man

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Indy Lifestyle Online
SOMEHOW, almost in spite of myself, I seem to have reached that point in life when work is more interesting than pleasure. There's more of it, for a start.

Work, I must say, is thrilling - we're redesigning and rethinking a magazine from scratch, which is a daunting task, but not one I could possibly call boring, even at my most jaded.

In fact I'm not even jaded, firstly because my surroundings and the people around me are exciting and unfamiliar, and more importantly, because I feel like I haven't had this much power since I was seven and I had the run of the infant school Wendy house.

Only I know rather more of the world than I did back then - enough to know that I should make the most of this, while I can.

Elsewhere, there's a lot of things I wish I'd made the most of, while I could. Like youth, and looks - stuff, frankly, which I only knew I'd had when I'd lost them. Not that I was ever the young Marlon Brando, you understand, or that I look like the old one now, but something has changed - and I know it, simply because I feel invisible, in a way I've never felt before.

One Christmas years ago, I worked in Harrod's Food Hall - on the bacon counter, in fact, with a lovely girl called Sharon - a real stunner, she was. And I was very relieved to be on Bacon, rather than Fish. On Fish, as Sharon succinctly put it, "People just stopped callin'". Well, I don't know what's gone wrong with me - my face seems much the same as it ever did, bar a little wrinkle here and a bag there - but people have just stopped looking, and I didn't know how much I needed them to look, until they stopped.

Actually, my face is a bit of an up-and-down thing these days, I have to admit - sometimes it looks good, as far as I can tell, but sometimes it seems to me to be a collection of features, badly curated and of, well, rather patchy condition.

And my hair? Well I don't really have any, unless you count the strange, freaky tufts that increasingly sprout all over the body as it enters middle age - on the back, nose, ears - in fact anywhere you really wouldn't want hair.

And my body? Don't ask. Something's given, somewhere, and frankly I just don't fancy myself, if you know what I mean - so I can hardly expect anyone else to, can I?

I know I'm only 34 and probably being absurd, but in gay years that's more like 150.

So here I am. It's taken me a long time to get to this point, when I can honestly say that there's nowhere else I'd rather be, and no other job I'd rather be doing, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that in the meantime, whilst I wasn't looking, something else went away. But I am surprised - I imagine everyone is, when it happens. And maybe the key is not to panic, not to start wearing wigs, combing one's hair frantically over a bald patch or trying to wear hotpants, but to approach the step- by-step business of losing it with a quiet stoic dignity. Perhaps I should try to embrace it.

I'm working on all of that, you'll be pleased to know. And I am also meeting a fashionable, personal trainer three times a week in Central Park for an hour of yoga, boxing and truly cutting-edge fitness techniques, just by Strawberry Fields.

The irony is, of course, that 10 years back, I could never have afforded it - and yet then, I didn't need it - conclusive proof, you might say, that the good Lord doesn't send these trials until he knows you're ready for them.

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