Picture Imperfect - By Nicola Yeager

Friday 13th

Wouldn’t it be handy if men could be genetically engineered to have their personality types grafted onto their foreheads in some way or other? A small disk, maybe. Nothing too obtrusive or freaky. I was thinking of maybe something like traffic light colours. It would go something like this:

Red – Self-obsessed, unhinged, narcissistic, psychopathic and serially unfaithful. A bastard. Good for one night stands if fit looking.

Amber – Passable, OK body, OK job, OK looking and borderline boring. Never overdrawn. Likes football and other tedious man stuff.

Green – Witty, caring, handsome, intelligent, great ass, ingenious lover, loves life but loves you more. Takes you to Paris on Valentine’s Day.

I’m sure there are lots of other things you could stick in each colour category if you could be bothered (I certainly can’t), but I think that’ll do for the moment to give you the basic idea.

Yes, I realise that some of them would grow a long fringe to avoid their coloured disk being seen, but if you were that interested, you could always gently sweep away their hair without it seeming like some sort of eccentric sensual/sexual come-on. Of course, someone with a red disk would think it was exactly that and would start groping your bottom.

The only problem with this idea is that men would probably want us girls to have something similar, so that’s where it all falls down. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want my potential as a prospective mate to be available for the bloke in the off license to peruse. Let alone the window cleaner. Or my parents.

Now take Mark. Mark is my boyfriend/partner thing. We’ve been living together for two years and it seems to be going OK. Mark, though, would definitely have the amber disk on his forehead. He’s a nice enough guy, he’s not morbidly obese, he talks vaguely about having a family one day (but not yet, obviously), and he looks alright.

He does, however, have few features that bug me, and he certainly isn’t perfect. He’s a little bit of a control freak, I suppose. Or maybe it’s anally retentive. I’m not sure which. I’m not a psychiatrist. He doesn’t like mess. He doesn’t like wasting money. He doesn’t like spending money. He likes things to be exactly as he wants them to be, which can get a little annoying sometimes. I’m trying to think of an example, but they’re all so petty that it’s quite difficult.

Ah yes. The shopping. He makes a list about once a week. Usually it’s me that goes and gets it. If there’s something he wants and it has to be a definite make, flavour, price deal or whatever, then he… let me give you an example. Here’s a bit of a made-up Mark list I’ve prepared specially for you:

Bread (not some weird posh bread)

Milk, semi-skimmed (Chloe – not the organic stuff, please!)

Spaghetti (supermarket’s own make, Chloe, please)

Shampoo (My one not yours. You still have a little bit left)

Mince (low fat – remember we had to take the last lot back??)

Tinned Tomatoes (if v.cheap)

Get the picture? It’s the small things, isn’t it?

I start thinking about things like this when I’m painting. I don’t mean the decorating the flat sort of painting, I mean painting painting. Even though I haven’t been making a great deal of money from it recently and I have to temp as a secretary two days a week, I’m actually a real, proper artist.

At least that’s how I think of myself. Not that it means very much sometimes, but I went to Art College for four years and studied Fine Art. I’ve actually got a degree in it, for what it’s worth.

Now what this usually means in the real world is that you’re going to be an art teacher. It’s like some terrible pre-destined prison sentence of the soul. Most people who study Fine Art (as opposed to graphic design, where there are comparatively loads of jobs when you qualify) end up either teaching or doing something that’s nothing at all to do with art, like working in a fish gutting factory, being a chiropodist, worming dogs or flogging insurance. Or, worse than all of those put together (if you can imagine such a job), temping.

The problem is that most people don’t spend their spare money on original art. It’s the luxury item’s luxury item, if such a thing can be said to exist. And I’ll bet most people can’t name ten famous UK contemporary artists. And famous is really what