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Sunday 11th May 2003

Because IÂ’ve been spending a lot of time in dressing rooms recently I have had plenty of opportunity to consider my physical appearance. Dressing rooms are full of mirrors, partly because actors need to check they are looking exactly right before a performance and partly because actors are extremely vain and love to look at themselves. A dressing room is nothing more than a budgie cage, though generally the food you get isnÂ’t as good in the theatre.
Especially at Swindon Arts Centre.
As I was writing my book (Hey, IÂ’m over half way through and I still have 19 days to finish it) in the roomy (but slightly smelly) dressing room at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton, I would glance over the top of my lap-top at the hungover face in the mirror. Increasingly this year I have noticed lines and wrinkles and baggy eyes that I havenÂ’t been aware of before.
IÂ’m not that bothered. I kind of like them, but they are a telling advertisement for the approach of old age and my inevitable death, so I canÂ’t be too fond of them.
Today I also realised how grey my hair is becoming. There is a whole clump of white hair above my right temple. Again, itÂ’s supposedly distinguished and unfairly in men, signs of maturity are considered quite attractive, but it gives you pause for thought, because I donÂ’t feel any older than I did ten years ago.
The other day I chanced across my first passport. ThereÂ’s a photo of me in there when I was 17 or 18. I was actually surprised at how thin and attractive I was. I always thought I was nothing special and remember thinking I was fat as a teenager (but then I didnÂ’t realise how far it would go). But I tell you, I was gorgeous. IÂ’d have done me. And in fact I did. About three times a day. Because no-one else seemed to want to.

The last eighteen years have hardly been cruel, in fact I am probably fitter now than I have almost ever been (at least I was before I went to Australia and behaved like an alcoholic pig at an all you can eat buffet), but it is still quite shocking, or at least sobering, to see the contrast.
I spent the whole of my twenties worrying that I was getting old. Now IÂ’m in my thirties I realise that was a stupid waste of time, as I was in fact really, really young and should have just enjoyed it.
IÂ’m not going to make the same mistake with my late thirties. I am still young. But the wrinkles and the greying hair are the warning signs on the road down the steep mountain pass that leads so quickly to oblivion.
Let us all make love in the streets while there is flesh on our bones, for it will all be over much too soon.
In eight years time I will be old and then I will buy some slippers and take up golf. But for now IÂ’m going to pretend IÂ’m the lad in the passport, without the inferiority complex and IÂ’ll just smash every mirror that I come into contact with.

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