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. 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.