Years ago, I remember seeing a story in the Taranaki Daily Mail.
It sent a chill down my spine. The story was of a woebegone soul, living in a Housing Corp flat, who had been told she had to get rid of nine of her 11 cats.
She was heartbroken and the photo showed her clutching some of the cats to her enormous bosom. It wasn't so much the story that struck me. It was the photo.
She had badly dyed frizzy hair, wild grey eyebrows and a florid complexion, her face creased and wrinkled from hard living.
Her jowls melted into her neck then folded into her immense bosom that cascaded into her stomach, resulting in an avalanche of flesh that disappeared down her thighs.
She wore no makeup and her lips were barely visible.
When I looked at her, I recognised a sister from another mister. I was about three pay cheques away from looking exactly like that. A poor diet and casked wine, no disposable income to spend on a hairdresser and a beautician, no skincare or makeup and that would be me.Forget the three pay cheques.
A week and a half into lockdown and the descent into fugly has begun.
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The nails were the first to go. Years of being a nail-biter has left my poor nails brittle and weak, they need to be dipped into a powder that hardens them and gives them extra strength. A few days ago, the last of them peeled off and now the consequences of my filthy childhood habit are exposed to the world. Stubby, ragged nails that no amount of home manicuring can disguise.
The best form of comedy is one that exposes truths and the memes doing the rounds on social media, showing what women will really look like after weeks in lockdown, do exactly that. Strip away our artificially elegant nails, expose our grey follicles, deny us the plumping and the smoothing and the relaxing of cosmetic medicine and we'll see the true exteriors.
In the 48 hours before lockdown began, everyone was talking about panic-buying.
Around Ponsonby it was panic-dyeing as women of a certain age flocked to their salons, desperate to get their hair coloured before the salons shut their doors for as long as Stage 4 lasts.
I was in a dilemma. I'd just had my roots done but they wouldn't last the distance. So, in my sprint around the supermarket, I picked up a packet of home dye and within a few weeks I'll be resorting to dyeing my hair myself, for the first time in my life.
People have phoned me this week, wondering if their lawnmower man can still pop round as they're worried about their kikuyu growing wild. The answer is no - and forget about the kikuyu. What's going to happen to my own verdant growth? On my legs. I suppose I can use a razor - just like the hair dye, there's a first time for everything.
Ten days into lockdown, with all non-essential businesses closed, we're getting back to basics. The shiny, artificial carapace I've put around myself to present to the world is cracking and splintering. The external appearance that only my nearest and dearest get to see is being exposed and, I have to say, it's quite liberating.
These unusual times are stripping away all that is unnecessary and extraneous. I may well emerge from lockdown looking like my Taranaki doppelganger but if it means as a country we dodge the Covid bullet, what the hell does it matter?