Maeve Higgins: my ideal photograph

My ideal . . . photograph


I was in my room the other day, working on my outsider art. I was almost finished my new multimedia piece, tentatively entitled Kitten made out of Cotton-buds when I suddenly worried that my work might be too upsetting for the general public. Frankly, I doubt even the art world are ready for the type of collages I’m brewing. So I decided instead to imagine the ideal photograph.

Like preserved lemons and wealthy relatives, the old ones are the best ones. Images of picnicking couples beaming out from a 1950s beach, or serious school children squinting into the sun on a long-ago school tour never fail to raise a melancholy smile from this sucker. Put a sepia tint on anything and I get a lump in my throat so big people confuse me for a man. I am no man – my Adam’s apple is made from nostalgia and imaginings. Unlike a proper Adam’s apple, which is made from chewing tobacco and stuck feelings.

I like the clarity of a passport photo - all face, no poses. A few years ago I was a shy waitress in Paris, living beyond my means in a fancy apartment. I had a darling bob and in my spare time, I helped people out in super cute ways. Anyway – I discovered that my boyfriend at the time had a curious peccadillo. (Not as curious as my ex-husband’s though. Michael used to floss with his own hair while listening exclusively to Belinda Carlisle.) This particular beau collected discarded passport photographs. Talk about adorable! We were very happy together until, by accident, I skimmed a stone in front of his moped and he went flying into the Seine, never to be seen again.

I’ll tell you who blows my mind. Beyoncé, of course! A business woman and a mother who can sing and dance simultaneously? She’s unreal. Also difficult to comprehend are people who say they don’t look like themselves in photos. Then how come they know that it’s them in the photo?

Baby photos are the world’s greatest – I show baby photos like Marie Cassidy solves murders, constantly and in public. I don’t go to chi-chi cocktail parties with stockbrokers but if I did, I’d figure out a way of including some baby photos with the canapés. “Oh look, a tiny burger. Here’s my niece being tiny like this burger.” Often, I’m well aware that the viewer wishes I would stop, but I keep going. I understand psychopaths more now – they too can see that they are causing pain, but their need to do as they please is simply too great. So I apologise. “I am so sorry, but I just need you to have a quick look at this and tell me my nephew is not the cutest baby you’ve ever seen, okay? Sorry.”

Hear me now, the ideal photograph is of a miniature, upgraded version of me wearing a novelty hat and looking worried, and I’ll keep showing it to you until you agree.

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