When I was fifteen-years-old, I had a face covered in huge volcanic spots – I had big black heads which were so big they made the skin stand out. Some spots were on top of black heads. Add to this the first inklings of bum-fluff and a generally greasy pallor and you get a picture of a real mess.
We didn’t have any running hot water at home. When I eventually started shaving it was take a kettle of hot water upstairs, that had been heated on the gas cooker in the kitchen.
My school mate, Ian Roberts, said “why don’t you squeeze them out?” He must have broached the subject in a kindly way because I don’t remember taking offence. Anyway, my face was something I was well aware of so I probably looked kindly on anyone who took an interest. Ian left school at 15 and joined the army. I never heard from him again after that.
I had a tentative pick that night in front of the mirror – nothing serious. Dad had one of those round shaving mirrors that sat on the window ledge above the sink. Most people would call it a “wash-hand basin”. Where I come from a basin was something you used for haircuts (only kidding!). Anyway, this mirror flipped over to “super-magnifying” one side and you could examine your spots in minute detail.
So a few nights later I really went to town squeezing out these spots. Blood and puss galore. I must have finally become really cogniscant of them.
Actually, I don’t think that I was really cogniscant of very much before the age of fourteen. I remember one maths lesson with Dr Roe, the deputy head teacher. He was in a particularly fowl mood one day for some reason or other and he screamed at me as he lost his patience as I didn’t understand something which, to him, was quite elementary or simple. So I kind of tried very very hard to concentrate on what it was he was saying and tried very very hard to understand. And I did! I sort of pulled out all the stops and moved up a gear or two. It was kind of like coming-to, like waking up. I found that I could understand this stuff, if I just tried. I just kept bothering him for more and more maths problems after this. (this also annoyed him 🙄 ) I eventually got a CSE grade-one in Maths.
Anyway, the day following the evening of marathon spot-squeezing I was standing outside a class room, waiting for the teacher to turn up, with all the other kids and I overheard this girl say to her friend “Doesn’t John Chinn’s face look better?” This was Sylvia. She was always a bit tatty, like me, but improving, like me. Well I liked her, and she was nice looking.
The evening of the monster spot-squeezing session my dad said “you should use a bit of tissue when you are doing it, so’s you don’t leave nail marks in your skin”. Well my mum and dad used to keep the “tissue paper” in their room and we children used to get this medicated grease-proof paper stuff to use in the bath room. You couldn’t grip anything with this. I used to have to ask for a bit of tissue paper to squeeze my spots after this. How poor were we?!
Anyway, after Sylvia’s comments about my face looking better, I was for ever preening myself