Two things have happened to me recently that have not happen for ages.  Firstly, I have been invited to run a session about learning styles and, secondly, I have been asked for a biography with a recent photograph (of me, not of something else). 

You might think these two things are connected but in fact they are from two people who do not know of each other’s existence.  It’s purely coincidental that these two requests have arrived within days of each other.

Now you might be thinking; how nice that Peter, in his dotage, is still remembered.  Initially I thought that too, but I quickly realised that both requests present me with problems (which, by the way, I am determined to overcome).

The first problem is that I’m rusty, very rusty.  Of course I can remember the four learning styles and the learning cycle, but to wax lyrical about them for an hour?   I have no idea how I used to do that!  And I’ve long since thrown away all my notes.  And I no longer have any copies of the learning styles questionnaire (I don’t even own it anymore) or the amazing PowerPoints I used to inflict on people.  I can vaguely recall some of the jokes I used to tell, but that’s about it.  I doubt that the people who have invited me to speak at their conference are expecting a stand-up comedian.  So, I’ve some serious swotting to do over the next two weeks to bring me up to speed.

The second problem concerns the request for a biography and photo.  I’ve looked at the bios I used to use and, of course, they are hopelessly out of date.  I’m no longer a chartered psychologist, just a retired psychologist.  I’m no longer a trustee of the three charities mentioned.  I am still a fellow of the RSA but that’s only because, years ago, I paid to be a lifelong fellow and I’m still alive.  I no longer have any of the impressive clients I used to list so boastfully.  In any case, all the contacts I had in those organisations have long since retired or died, and none of their replacements will have the faintest idea who I am (or should that be, was?).   

So, I must set to work and create a new biography.  But what can I say?   That I go for daily walks, paint watercolours and write mischievous short stories?  Or that I’m the convenor of three u3a groups and provide the participants with hot drinks and biscuits?  Or that I’ve been married to my wife for 60 years come April?  Again, apart from the longevity of my marriage, I doubt that any of this is sufficiently impressive. 

Then there is the matter of providing a photograph.  Big problem this.  I refuse to cheat by sending an old photo showing me with a good head of hair and even, if I go back far enough, a beard.  Just imagine what a shock it would be if someone met me assuming the photo was a true likeliness.  How could I explain the appalling discrepancy?   I’d have apologise and claim there’d been a mix-up and the photo was of someone else. 

I know what you’re thinking: this is an easy problem to solve, just send a recent photograph and have done with it.  Sorry, but that’s a problem too.  You see, I hate all the recent photos of me.  I look so old (I know, I know, the camera does not lie). When I smile (which I like to do) I have an old amalgam filling in one tooth that shows up black as if there is no tooth there at all.  But the worse still, my left eyelid droops alarmingly.  It looks as if I’ve had a stroke (perhaps I have!).  If, when a photograph is taken, I concentrate on opening my eyes wide, I look thyrotoxic or, worse still, absolutely petrified.   Perhaps I could wear a black patch?  Maybe even have a parrot on my shoulder?  Plastic surgery would no doubt come to the rescue, but the people asking for a photo of me might grow impatient as I languished for years on an NHS waiting list and, should I live long enough for the operation to be performed, waited for bruising to subside.  

No, I think the solution might be to compromise and find, not a recent photo, but a relatively recent photo.  One, say, taken ten years ago when my left eyelid still had the strength to momentarily lift itself.

Perhaps the answer is just to tell everyone I’m a contented has-been who wants to be left to potter and no longer accepts invitations to speak at conferences.  Or that I’m a recluse who never ventures out.  Or that I’m dead.  The ultimate solution.          

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