Judging by Appearances

Do you ever wonder what some of your fellow bloggers look like? Some solve this problem, by using thumbnail photos alongside their comments. Many go further, by using their photo as the header picture on the blog. Some remove all mystery, by adding numerous photos of themselves, often in exotic places, or doing something ‘crazy’. Some followers, and many ‘commenters’ are content to let WordPress generate a random symbol for them. I have seen some of these, and sometimes, I have found it difficult to work out if the person is male, or female. A clever choice of pseudonym, or blog name, can add to this, and stop me coming to any erroneous conclusions about background, location, or even intellect.

Does this aspect of blogging ever put you off? Do you choose not to follow someone, or approve a comment, based on photos and appearance, I wonder? I have never done so, but I have thought about it, I admit. I have often presumed that some of the stranger photos are deliberately included, to imply ‘wackiness’, or to give an indication that theirs is a ‘fun’ blog. Some thumbnails are just straight portraits, into the camera lens, and portraying an image that the blogger is happy to share with the world on the Internet. Many use old photos; school portraits, or college yearbook images, from the past.ย  Perhaps they like to still feel that this is how they see themselves. Others use identifying shots; a pen for a writer, camera for a photographer, cakes for a baking blog, and so on.

The presentation of my own blog lacks imagination perhaps. In the past, the header picture, of a tranquil country scene, has been mistaken for a picture of Beetley. It is not. It is a generic image, that comes with the theme. My Gravatar image is of my dog, Ollie. The simple explanation for this, is that it was one of the few photos that existed on my computer, that was readily available to use. I had always intended to replace it later, with a self-portrait, then decided not to. I felt that some people might make assumptions, from seeing my photo; it might well have increased readership, or reduced it. Either way, I concluded that I wanted the blog to stand on its ideas and writing, and not because of any pictorial presumptions.

Some people have seen my photo. Those who live nearby, or were visiting the area, with the possibility that we might meet. I thought it best to let them know what I looked like, just in case. As it turned out, I only ever met one fellow blogger, as she was living less than 30 miles away, and we met for coffee. It was an easy meeting, without awkwardness, or protracted silences. A testament to just how much we had learned about each other, through the process of blogging. She said that I looked ‘just as she had expected’. I didn’t know how to take this, so considered it a compliment, for the sake of that meeting. Can anyone really look exactly as you expected, when you have ‘met’ through writing? That thought has stayed with me, and interested me greatly, ever since.

Looking back over my posts, I realise that I have given various clues to my appearance, sometimes on purpose, and also when describing something I was doing. For those of you who have never noticed this, or have any interest at all in how I look, I will give some written clues, that you might visualise them, or not, whatever you choose. I am not tall, less than five feet eight. Too short to join the Police when I was eighteen, in 1970. What is left of my hair is a silver/white colour, and cut extremely short. I abhor ‘comb-over’ or ‘comb forward’ styles, and always feel embarrassed for those men that seek to retain the appearance of a full head of hair, by rearranging what they have grown at the sides. And as for wigs, enough said. My build is not slim, though far from obese. I have chubby bits, but not everywhere. I can still look presentable in a suit, and I do not have the beer-belly so often seen on other men of my age. I have hands and feet that are rather too small for a man, only taking a size seven shoe, and normally losing out in the handshake stakes. My face is showing the ravages of time, as well as the effects of decades of smoking, and it is beginning to crease, like a well-used cushion. Lines are forming either side of my nose, and at the edges of my mouth. My neck is in the process of developing along the lines of that of a tortoise, or iguana, but isn’t there quite yet. The bags under my eyes, present since youth, have grown into respectable pouches, easily capable of concealing a large marble or two.

For those of you who are skilled at photo-manipulation, or good at using the numerous programmes available for this sort of thing, I have a suggestion. Get a head-shot of the actor, Steven Berkoff. Remove the warty thing from his face, and add a discernible mole on the right of the upper lip, like Madonna’s. Then get a similar size photo of Anthony Hopkins, and merge the two together. This should give a rough approximation of my appearance. I once signed a theatre programme for a fan of Steven Berkoff, who was convinced that I was the famous actor, so it won’t be far off. For personality, add a dash of a Bob Hoskins accent and demeanour, with the occasional grumpiness typified by the TV character of Victor Meldrew.

There I am.

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18 thoughts on “Judging by Appearances

  1. Pete, it’s detail like this that created my imagined-but-not-too-far-off version of you. You did indeed leave a few breadcrumbs through your posts – brownie points for proving that I read them ๐Ÿ˜‰ it’s like reading a book, you start off with just words but the more you read the more puzzle pieces get put together. How the person handles things, whether they have to tiptoe to reach the kitchen sink (I imagine you do with your height lol) by the end of the book you build up an image (and then they bring out the film and ruin everything by ignoring the original) but anyway… Loved this post. ๐Ÿ™‚ oh and I am who I am in my photo btw ha ha xx

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    1. Glad you liked this one, I hoped you would, for obvious reasons!
      I like your new photo, very secretarial, or perhaps schoolmistress?
      And I know it is you, but then, you knew that I knew that, didn’t you?
      As ever, Pete. XX

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  2. I have wondered what you might look like Pete, and based on your description you sound quite close to what I have imagined! Sometimes words can describe a person better than a photo: Berkoff+some alterations makes perfect sense! Ollieโ€™s picture is the perfect avatar for Beetleypete though โ€“ I would miss it if you would change it some day.

    I have posted pictures of myself but usually people are surprised by my height, which doesnโ€™t show in photos (if I am by myself in the picture, or seated when the photo is taken, I look โ€œnormalโ€): In reality, I am 186cm (6โ€™ 1โ€). Because of that have been not Berkoffed ๐Ÿ™‚ but Maria Sharapovaed a couple of times (my hair was blonder at the time). I donโ€™t really think I look like Maria Sharapova, but sometimes all it takes is the height and blonde hair (and an over-excited tennis fan). I have also been told I remind people of the French singer Francoise Hardy :-). Now, Sharapova and Hardy donโ€™t look alike at all so I guess the truth of my appearance is somewhere in the middle. People who know me would probably say I am tall and smiley (lots of teeth) with a pointy nose! But, I donโ€™t think I look very much like myself in most photos where I am not laughing or talking, including the ones on my blog. The most accurate representation of me just might be my cartoon self!

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    1. Many people look very different when they are animated, happy, or sad. I thought you looked tall, in relation to doorways, handrails etc. My second wife was almost six feet tall, so we were an unuasual couple!
      No danger of changing my photo of Ollie, it has become my blogging identity.
      I am interested that you imagined that I loooked like how I have described, I could have had a pony tail, and a huge beard! I makes me happy that my writing gets across how I appear, as it suggests that I must be connecting well.
      Regards as always, Pete.

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  3. Just one point – how do you know that the image is actually that of the blogger? It’s a bit like on a dating site – you can post anything and pretend it is you. I’m terribly cynical about these things – no-one knows your’e a werewolf on the internet.;-)
    Jude xx

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    1. You are exactly right Jude, anyone can put up a picture of whoever they like. (Is that really you behind that camera?) I share your cynicism, about this, as well as many other things in life…
      As always, Pete. x

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  4. Pete: Lovely blog and a very accurate description indeed; I was with you when a Berkoff fan told you just how much he enjoyed ‘your work’! By the way, was Ollie named after Oliver Reed? Brian

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  5. Nice to read how you look?!?! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m one of those people who don’t like putting pictures of myself as I’m extremely shy, though not in writing, most of the time ๐Ÿ™‚
    I don’t have a lot of intellect but I try to add my two pen-north when I can.
    I don’t watch television or listen to the radio and I don’t buy newspapers. I follow the news on different sites where I can skip what I don’t want to see.
    I am female, which surprises a lot of people as they see the name Jay and assume I’m a male. I prefer the name Jay to my full name of Jacqueline as I really don’t suit my full name.
    I’ve got a prosthetic leg, it’s the right one and it’s a below the knee amputation, caused by a surgeons mistake which I am in the middle of suing! The leg is sparkly purple with a little white rabbit on as there was no way I was going to wear the ones that are American Tan coloured (ask your wife), and besides, I wanted my leg to look unique, and it is to me. Lots of amputees go for different colours and have different patterns on their prostheses as it shows their personality ๐Ÿ™‚
    And the reason I have a blackbird for my avatar is because they are my very favourite bird ๐Ÿ™‚ I love all birds and wildlife and its my wish to move further up the east coast of Scotland or towards the Highlands.

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    1. I did remember about your leg, but didn’t realise you had a ‘good’ colour, so well done for that. I used to visit the East coast of Scotland a lot, many years ago, as a father-in-law lived in Broughty Ferry. We almost bought a house overlooking the Tay, and also liked Arbroath and Montrose. I know about American tan, as well as Suntan, Mushroom, Nutmeg, and many other colours of tights or stockings. I used to buy them, for an ex-wife, as I did all the shopping!
      Well done for not watching TV. I have tried not to, but always remained addicted to certain things, especially news programmes. Good luck with the legal stuff, and thanks for always being there for me (and Ollie). Pete. x

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  6. Steven Berkoff is one of my favourite actors/public personalities, so for you to claim a physical resemblance warms my cockles. Very interesting blog; makes me think about my own visual identity. As you know, I’m not usually in the habit of brandishing my look with personal photographs in my posts–but I do use a thumbnail of my real picture. I am actually using it in my about section too, something I’ve never done before. I’m not keen on flooding the blogosphere with countless images of myself. But I do like to see real pictures of my favourite bloggers. I have always known precisely what you looked like because you have indeed dropped many hints over the years. But I do like looking at Ollie too; I have come to associate him with beetleypete. Hugs, me x

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    1. But A, your picture is so nice! x
      Glad you like Berkoff, though I had an inkling that you might. I looked at a photo of him again today, and there is a resemblance. He is a lot older than me of course, (but doesn’t always look it) and though I never claimed the likeness myself, I was ‘Berkoffed’ in the street in London on at least three occasions, so it must have some substance.
      I won’t be changing the Ollie picture, as it is too well associated with me now.
      As always, Pete. X

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      1. I am a big fan of Oliver Cromwell A. Not so much the religious stuff of course, more the totalitarian aspects of being ‘Lord Protector’. I am actually a member of the Cromwell Association, (there is even one in Drogheda!)
        and I want to be ‘Lord Protector’. Promise I’ll be nice…X

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