It is very important I keep up appearances. Yesterday, waiting for the train door to open, I stood beside a young woman, black like me, only perhaps a few years older. I looked up at the same time she did. We locked eyes. I tried to pretend I was angry, or slightly irritated, so I could seem mysterious. When we entered the train, and sat, we were a few feet apart. I pulled out Widow Basquiat from my bag. I tilted the book cover so she could see it if she looked my way. I didn’t want her to think I am without suave, or unintelligent: Widow Basquiat is the rave-book of the summer. And when, suddenly struck by the exultation in Patrick Watson’s voice, I wanted to pull out my phone to confirm what song from Love Songs For Robots was playing, it occurred to me that if I did, she would see that I didn’t have an iPhone (although I do, but the screen is now broken), and think I am not fashionable, or worse, impoverished.
For the sake of others, I am always watching myself from outside, and making slight modifications.