This is a picture of me, open pores, wrinkles, sun spots and all. Sometimes I wish I were a different person. I don’t mean I want to be Scarlett Johansson, or Margaret Beckett or Florence Bloody Nightingale, or even Ryan Gosling. I do still want to be me, but different and better.
I wish I was reckless and devil-may-care and a risk taker instead of someone who frets that a stranger is about to trip over their laces. I wish I had a better work ethic and more drive and tenacity and that I wasn’t so bloody lazy.
I wish I had more passions and enthusiasms, so that whoever delivered my eulogy would speak in glowing terms of my commitment to the cause or the project or my art, and how I would never settle for second best, instead of seeing second best as something that happened to me once when the stars aligned and all the really good people were at home in bed with the norovirus.
I wish I had more self-discipline so that what talents I do have might be given a chance to shine, rather than consigned to playing second spear carrier to my love affair with procrastination.
I wish I took better care of myself and exercised more and ate healthily and well and had a cupboard full of exotic pastes in colourful tins, instead of Schwartz jars of dust that used to be spices. I wish I stuck at things, especially things I liked, instead of giving up because it is raining or I am tired or because for some unknown reason I cannot resist fanning the smouldering embers of self-destruction into a roaring flame and crapping out of Zumba as a result. EVEN THOUGH I LIKE IT.
I wish I could reinvent myself and change my name to Vicky Romanoff and move to LA where I would tell people that I had been a ringmaster in the circus and the warden of Edinburgh Castle. But I couldn’t because that would be reckless and would involve self-discipline and many other qualities that I don’t posses and also because I couldn’t quieten the small Scottish voice in my brain telling me I was a pretentious arsehole.
Part of me wishes I were more like Madonna, breaking balls and eating popcorn from my cleavage. But then, I once read an interview with Madonna where she was asked if she ever thought “How did this happen? Why me?” and she said, “No. I can’t let myself think like that.” Which is pretty revealing. It makes me feel a bit better to know that a lot of driven, succesful people are probably on the run from themselves. Which isn’t very nice of me, is it?
And that’s another thing. I wish I were nicer and more thoughtful, and took better care of my friendships. I wish I were the kind of person who volunteered for stuff and took in waifs and strays and organised street parties and didn’t think awful things about other people’s children.
I don’t like the fact that I think these things about myself. I know I’m not so bad, I know I’m not chopped liver. I also know it’s horribly self indulgent and self obsessed. Get over yourself as they say in the US of A. “Who do you think will be looking at you anyway?” as my mother and grandmother would cry. I don’t think it every day. Some days when the sun is shining and my hair is behaving and I’ve had a glass of wine at lunchtime, I feel like Jemima Bloody Khan.
But some days I want to be a different person. I know it’s pointless and wrong, but I do.