Sweet Kay tells me, loyally, that the photograph I am showing her doesn't look the least little bit like me.
While I am relieved
to hear that nobody would recognise me from this really rather dreadful image, I am at the same time concerned because I am about to ask Kay to sign a very official document testifying that the photograph is, indeed, a True Likeness of Yours Truly.
I have a few excuses at the ready. The instructions for renewal of my driving licence, including provision of proof of identity, made it clear that in taking the required
photograph I was not allowed to smile at the camera, nor could I wear my specs. As regular readers will recall I am not one of the lucky ones blessed with a smiley face, even in repose. No, I look a Right Royal Misery without a smile pinned on what my dear
Mum used to call my fizzog. (As in: "My fizzog's my fortune, Sir," she said - one of the incomprehensible songs from my childhood which leap into my head when least expected.) My glasses, moreover, have been part of my face / fizzog since I was nine
years old. I don't look like me without them.
If I need further excuses, then I wasn't feeling all that well when I called into Timpson's to ask for my photo
to be taken. I like Timpson's, on account of the fact that in the shop window is a working model of a shoemaker. I mean, what's not to like? Maybe I should have waited till I was feeling less like Death Warmed Up but I wasn't sure when I would next be in town
and I was keen to complete the official form and post it Back To Sender before it disappeared under the pile of papers on the kitchen breakfast bar, never to be seen again until it was too late.
Indeed, there is a time limit attached to the form. If I fail to return it before my birthday then I shall no longer have a driving licence and will be deemed Unable to Drive. I told you it was serious.
I am still the proud possessor of one of those old, pink, paper driving licences. It is extremely tattered but what can you expect of a document which is more than forty years old
and suffers the indignity of being stuffed in whatever handbag I am using at any given time, in the company of my Senior Rail Card, my Bus Pass, my Specsavers prescription and my Costa Coffee Loyalty Card. Every time I need to produce one or other of these
accompanying cards, the driving licence is pulled out, then pushed back into my bag as being Surplus to Requirements. Every time it grows a little more battered, a little more tatty. Now it is about to be replaced by a newer, shinier, more pictorial
Kay isn't the first person I asked to Do The Honours on verifying my likeness. I first asked our friend Arthur (yes, indeed, the very same Arthur
who inspired our Grand National win) if he would sign and date the back of my photo. He did as requested and was kind enough not to pass comment on my grim visage. It was only a few days later, when Arthur had returned to his Worcestershire home, that I realised
I should have asked him to fill in a section of the form providing his own credentials and affirming that he was (i) over 18; (ii) not related to me; and (iii) not living at the same address.
Kay suggests I could get another set of photos taken but at £7.95 a time, I don't think I can afford to keep asking Mr Timpson to take photo after photo until I find one I am vaguely happy with. I show Kay my passport
photograph, taken six whole years ago, which is equally, well, awful. Besides, I say, nobody really looks at your driving licence, do they? I mean, unless you infringe the requirements of the Highway Code. I shall just have to be very, very careful not to
attract the attention of the Traffic Police.
Mr B groans. Does this mean, he wants to know, that I will take even more time moving out from roundabouts, crawling
behind tractors for miles on end until the drivers are kind enough to pull over and let me pass?
If that's what it takes, I tell him, then so be it. When
my shiny, new driving licence arrives I will secrete it in my bag, (along with the Senior Rail Card, my bus pass, Specsavers prescription and Costa Coffee Loyalty Card - none of which, I am delighted to confirm, carries my photograph) and there it will stay.
If anybody happens to catch sight of it accidentally, I shall disclaim all knowledge of the person portrayed thereon.
Who doesn't look the least little bit like me.