perhaps a paper bag?

Look, I'm sorry, but when you buy a product called 'spot concealer', you have certain expectations. Or perhaps my understanding of the words 'spot' and 'concealer' are different from those of the manufacturer. Here we are again, in the tricky and dangerous swamps of vocabulary. Let us flounder together for a while in the mulch of meaning.

Spot: In the old days, shouting 'out, damned spot' never did Lady Macbeth any good (I presume her problem was acne - I'm a bit shaky on the play myself). She had to have a doctor and a nurse in attendance, so I guess her skin trouble was pretty serious and in those days they didn't have Clearasil, although they may have had Witch-hazel. I've tried to out spots by damning them, too, but nothing happened. Perhaps what I'm doing wrong is trying to out them when they are already as out as it's possible to be, as in 3 or 4 centimetres out and shouting to the world, 'HEY, I'M A SPOT AND, BOY, AM I A GOOD SPECIMEN!' I should be shouting 'get back in, get back in, damned spot'. I will try this at some point and let you know. I may end up with craters rather than spots, but at least I could fill those in with some tile grouting or peanut butter or something and use lots of foundation on top.

I think that this particular manufacturer has not aimed the product I have bought at real life spots which are 3 or 4 centimetres out, but at titchy little baby spots. If what I had was a titchy little baby one, though, I wouldn't even be buying the product - I'd be spending my money on a frothy cappucino and a maundant maund and feeling smug about people with real acne. (No, a Google translation tool won't help. See previous posts.)

The other thing that worries me is that 'spot' is such an innocent little word, hinting at a teeny-weeny problem that just a dib-dab of cream will sort out. What about DIRTY GREAT WANNABE-BOIL concealer, or THROBBING VOLCANO OF A PURPLE ZIT concealer? Eh? Eh? Didn't see any of that on the shelves. So what am I supposed to do? Join a model agency that supplies women to medical journals?

Concealer: There's no other way to say this. It doesn't conceal. The concealer itself is more revealing than leaving the spot unconcealed. The concealer speaks more loudly than the spot. The spot just says, 'This is a bit embarrassing, especially at 46, to have what looks like teenage acne, but, hey, no one's perfect.' The concealer says, 'HEY, EVERYONE, LOOK AT THIS OLD BIRD TRYING TO HIDE HER SPOT AS THOUGH IT'S GOING TO HELP HER LOOK GOOD. HAH!' Why is concealer like this? There are several reasons. 1) It only comes in one colour. How does that work in a multi-cultural society? Write to your MP. 2) For spots the size of mine, you don't need to dab it on, you need to apply it in careful layers: the Pompeii effect. (That classical reference is for someone special; you know who you are.) 3) Concealer lasts three minutes and forty-two seconds precisely, and I don't know about you, but most of my social events last a little longer than this. What's the point of me being at a party if, every three minutes and forty-three seconds, I have to dash into the ladies with my hand over my chin (someone young and beautiful is bound to think 'ah, off to pluck chin hair') and re-apply the Pompeii effect? It's no lava matter.

One option would be to strap the whole tube across my chin with double-sided sticky tape (didn't they show us this on Blue Peter once?) with the words 'spot concealer' clearly visible. This would be just as effective as the actual cream.

The other thing I could do is what I did actually do tonight, which I wasn't going to confess, but I've warmed up now into a nice state of inhibition. (Budding writers: watch for this one.) I had slapped a big blob of toothpaste onto the spot which is what I do when I'm indoors. It's a natural antiseptic and sometimes it actually calms the spot down. The thing to do though is to wash the toothpaste off before you go out to a church meeting. This avoids the situation in which, just before you go into the meeting, your husband has to examine you under a street lamp while you rub the toothpaste off with spit and the back of your sleeve, making, of course, the spot a lot, lot angrier than it was before.

That meant everyone spotted the damned spot.

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