So very like someone I know.
I don’t really know them
Other than I am aware
Where do you begin
When considering not quite
In the winter I took a photo of a pitta-bread maker in Jaffa
Who looked just like my brother,
from the side.
Same skin tone, tache, pattern of balding,
Lips, eyes, smile.
I didn’t attribute any good or bad to the guy,
He was just busy kneading.
My brother did not seem that impressed by the photo.
A couple of years ago I was on a bus in Barcelona,
There was a man,
a few years younger than me,
with two small children.
Looking at him was like looking in the mirror.
I was unnerved.
Nudging my kids to look across,
I took a photo.
This guy however
Who sits along from me in the meeting,
protruding upper teeth;
even his mannerisms are replicas
of the one I won’t mention.
I tried not to let this influence my attitude towards him,
aspired to remain on topic.
It wasn’t easy;
I couldn’t smell him,
Were I close enough, I know he would release the same
As with all meetings,
It drew to a close and I was able to leave.
I am only recounting this experience
As the aftertaste
Of the near-encounter
Is still with me.
Considering the moments,
One an image of someone I love,
Another of myself
And this most recent
Not quite my nemesis,
But, someone I wasn’t expecting.
Is it surprising we don’t see more replicas of one another?
Our ability to recognise faces is an evolutionary asset.
It has helped us get on.
Imagine if we looked alike, the consequences would be comic.
Mostly I remember faces, but forget names.
For some it is the opposite,
Some lucky folk can magically match name and face almost instantaneously.
I remember working with a doctor many years ago,
She was able,
within a week, to memorise the names of all the staff on my ward.
Something I hadn’t managed in approaching a decade.
I am sure this worked to her advantage,
Facilitating entry into the team.
My slow, plodding, malapropisms led to a much slower absorption.
It is said that our names are the most beautiful thing we can hear.
I’m not too sure about that; I’ve spent a lifetime disliking Rodney.
I find Copernicus prettier.
Fortunately, the guy who caused me so much upset has a name quite different from the other one; I can’t begin to imagine what the pitta-bread man and the Barcelona chap are called.
Ego is that aspect of our personalities that ensures we have enough confidence to face the challenges of life. Shrink it and we struggle, enlarge it too much and everyone has a hard time.
I don’t think we are designed to look around and see ourselves.
I think of the movie Being John Malkovich – I have written about that before, in relation to probably a bigger bastard than I have been skirting around so far – the former Health Secretary;
It is conceivable that the existence of another mirror-image of ourselves, (beyond an identical twin) potentially halves our ego, three and we are down to thirds and so on. Increasingly diminishing until, like the character played by Michael Douglas in Ant Man who disappears at the end into a quantum ripple.
And now, the secret.
Every time I see this chap – fortunately not something that happens often, I will be returned to this moment, and by association other moments of similarity where real and imagine blur.
I am now, sitting in a café in Sheffield.
Imagine someone, my exact facsimile, carbon copy, comes in, orders a flat white, lemon-drizzle and sits down at my table.
Then, we are joined by a third, a fourth; any more would be silly.
What would we discuss?
Would we have the decency to wait for the other to finish talking before jumping-in with theories? Would there be a mid-air collision of id, ego and super-ego;
What would Freud say?