Evidence that even when way past puberty, one's face is not guaranteed to be pimple-free

Had a great time tonight performing at 'Cafe Create', an arts cafe in Leamington Spa.  I did this monologue about acne.  I made it a monologue and not a poem because I couldn't find any rhymes for acne.  Apart from Hackney.   But apart from throwing in a random reference to North East London, I couldn't see how to fit that in.  Give a poet a break, peoples.

About spots

Look, I'm sorry, but when I buy a product called ‘spot concealer’ the name gives me certain expectations.  But it seems my understanding of the words 'spot' and 'concealer' are different from those of the manufacturers. Here we are again, where I often find myself, mired in the tricky and dangerous swamps of vocabulary. Let us flounder together in the mulch of meaning and examine these words.

Spot: I watched a play once in which a woman yelled, ‘Out, damned spot’.  I’m not sure why – her skin looked fine to me – but she had a doctor and a nurse in attendance, so I guess her acne must have been pretty serious.  They didn’t have Clearasil in those days, although they may have had Witch-hazel.

I've tried to out spots by damning them, too, but nothing happens. 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 AN UBER-SPOTLOOK AT ME!’

Maybe, instead, I should be shouting 'get back in, get back in, damned spot'. This way, 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 leftover hummus and then put lots of foundation on top.

I think that manufacturers of spot concealer do not aim their products at real life spots which are 3 or 4 centimetres out, but at titchy little baby spots. If what I got were titchy little baby spots, though, I wouldn't even be buying the product - I'd be spending my money on a frothy cappucino and sitting in Costa and feeling smug about people in the queue who have real acne.

The other thing that puzzles 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. Forget the name ‘spot-concealer’.  Why don’t they just get real and sell WHOPPING GREAT WANNABE-BOIL concealer, or THROBBING VOLCANO OF A PURPLE ZIT concealer? But they don’t.  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.  It is not spot concealer.  It is spot revealer.  The concealer speaks more loudly than the spot itself. The spot just says, 'This is a bit embarrassing, especially at 49, to have what looks like teenage acne, but, hey, no one's perfect.' The concealer says, 'HEY, EVERYONE,

Why is concealer like this? I suggest several reasons. 1) It only comes in one colour. How does that work in a multi-cultural society?  2) For spots the size of mine, you don't dab it on, you apply it in careful layers, like Pompeii. 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, so that 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.

It would be just as effective to go for the Blue Peter method, and to cover the spot by strapping the whole tube across my chin with double-sided sticky tape (Sellotape is also available).  That would mean the words ‘spot concealer’ would be clearly visible on the tube, and the solution just as effective as the cream itself.   

All I know is, I need an answer.  I don’t want a repeat of what happened recently.  [Cue violins.]  It was a Saturday.  I had a day in, and that evening, we were going out for a meal with friends.  I had slapped a gargantuan blob of toothpaste onto a raging spot which is what I do when I'm indoors.  I read this tip in Jackie magazine in 1973.  It's a natural antiseptic and sometimes it calms the spot down.

You’re welcome to the tip.  But remember: it is only an INDOOR solution.  Before you go out for the evening, wash it off.  It is not a good look, teamed with a sparkly top, black trousers, and high heels.  Then you won’t have to do what I did, which was to stand under a street lamp outside Pizza Express being examined by my husband while I rubbed the toothpaste off with spit and a face wipe from my bag which had been there for three years and was as dry as stage fright. 

This made the spot angrier and bigger and much, much redder, and, that night, everyone spotted that damned spot. 

'I must remember to wash off this toothpaste before I go out ... I must remember to wash this toothpaste
off before I go out ... I must remember to wash this toothpaste off before I go out ... I must remember to ..................


  1. What a funny post! At 40, I have been afflicted with some of the most ambitious, hideous pimples ever- far worse than anything I suffered as a teenager and always when I'm at my premenstrual best. This week I resorted to Sudocreme, leftovers from when my babies were babies. Must try toothpaste next month.

  2. I've tried the toothpaste thing. Never works for me. I hardly ever had pimples as a teenager & now, bang on a week before "the painters are in" and voila, pimple city. Urgh.

  3. Funny, funny post. I have no remedies to suggest, unfortunately.
    I never had much of a problem with the zits; I was lucky indeed.
    Hark, she speaks. "Out,damned spot, out I say." My best.

  4. Zincofax...kills anything:)

  5. I use mine to scare the year 6's at school during PHSE lessons: look and learn children!!!!

  6. But isn't acne an indicator of youthful looking skin? 'Cos if that's true I've been a teenager for the last 25 years. As my behaviour will no doubt also testify.

  7. Anonymous29/5/11 00:46

    One of the few good things about turning 60...the spots are covered up by the sagging skin!
    Nana...I have to post this as anonymous because blogger is refusing to recognize my sign in today.

  8. Great monologue - I should think it went down well!
    There once was a teacher from Hackney
    Who had the most terrible acne
    Her pupils left her potions
    Which she slathered on in oceans
    So now there’s no acne in Hackney


  9. Your new career: standup comic.
    Have you seen the news that cell phones can cause bumps on faces? Nickel allergy.
    Maybe the 1980s big plastic shoebox cell phones were better...?

  10. Take drugs! Heavy duty antibiotics did it for me.

  11. Anonymous29/5/11 16:10

    Spots? Sign of youth. The time to worry is when you no longer get them.

    Not Anon, really (though he wrote some good poems in his time) but Isabelle.

  12. Very funny, Miss Fran. What irks me about getting older is that there should be at least one thing we have over teenagers, but no.
    I found menopause to be useful at reducing the problem, though. Either that or living in the So. of Fr. not sure which.

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  14. Anonymous30/5/11 09:10

    My heart bleeds for all you spotty people .Cheer yourselves up with the thought that you won't get all ancient and wrinkly before your time like wot us dry skinned unacneyed ( unacned? ) folk have .
    Signed : The Anonymous SmitoniusAndSonata .
    (Blogger is creating a class divide , for some reason . Those who may comment .... and the rest of us .)

  15. I would think, after "The Wedding" we could make a case for a veil as a fashion statement.

  16. Bloody funny post as always Fran!! If you have got spots, squeeze them. It is an urban myth that squeezing them makes them spread.

    I have done it for years and the spot is done within 24 hours, as long as you bung a bit of antiseptic cream on the area afterwards.

    It renders concealers useless! Huzzar


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