Fabulous Freckles, Lousy Liver Spots

I love Freckles!

That’s what I’d tell my parents every time we went to visit my extended family in the Kent countryside.

Freckles was a pony who lived in a field behind my great aunt’s house. As his name would suggest, he was grey with a smattering of brown patches.

I felt a kinship with that pony because I was in possession of an abundant crop of freckles myself.

Freckles made me feel comfortable with my facial pigmentation.

Like him, they were something to cherish.

I only wish he’d had a companion called Liver Spots to make me feel more well disposed towards these now that I have them in increasing numbers.

I’ve always had freckles. And I’ve mostly been OK about them. After all, some of my childhood fictional heroes had freckles: Ginger (William Brown’s best pal), Anne (of Green Gables) and Pippi Longstocking, for starters.

But, in the late seventies when it seemed that the sun was always shining (thereby adding to my collection) the freckled nose I held in highest esteem belonged to Jodie Foster.

My dad had signed us up to the Disney Club in London. Membership meant birthday cards from Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck every year and admission to Disney films at the cinema on St Martin’s Lane, in the company of suited Disney characters.

So it was that a man in nylon fur ushered me in to see the film, ‘Candleshoe’ starring a befreckled Jodie Foster in the lead role of tomboy urchin, Casey.

I immediately fell under her spell. Not only did she have freckles and a snub nose but she could whistle with her fingers in her mouth.

The only other female I knew who could do this was my Aunt Joan. And she was a dog handler who used her whistle to control and command more than just her dogs.

She had a horse who would pee into a bucket on one whistle, and a husband who would come running with a shovel on another.

She had freckles too.

I decided that freckles lent one insouciance. They were anti establishment and so was I!

Later on, at my convent school, the nuns agreed. They joined up the dots across my nose and spelled out ‘cheeky’ and ‘insolent.’

I don’t think I was cheeky or insolent. I was misunderstood.

But I worked out that my freckles meant I’d never be considered sophisticated. They’d always make me look youthful, yes, but also naive and likely to set off the fire alarm  when no-one was looking.

My freckles have been a double-edged sword.

Some people find their freckles fade over time. Mine haven’t.

In fact, over time they’ve invited their cousins to join the party.

Only once you’re in Executive Youth, it’s not freckles on the guest list, it’s age spots. Or liver spots as they are also known.

I was thirty six when my first appeared.

One minute the skin on the back of my right hand was blemish free, the next there was an unwanted flat, brown spot lined up by my thumb.

It made my hand look like it belonged to a nineteenth century harvest worker.

I wondered if any directors were considering remaking ‘The Mayor Casterbridge’; I’d be a shoo-in for casting as a hay scyther.

I read up about my new condition on the internet.

It turns out I have over-active pigment cells!

Almost nothing else about me is over-active (except, perhaps, my imagination).

Whereas a love of the sun slows the rest of me down (think barely conscious under parasol, gently poaching in own sweat), it’s overstimulated my melanin production and the result is… evidence that I am getting older.

Freckles are inherited. Age spots aren’t.

I have passed on this acquired wisdom to my sons whose skin I have protected fiercely since they were born.

Both are fair skinned and both have freckles (no nose is complete without them).

They didn’t buy the tale I told about a dancing fairy who left her footprints on their faces when they were asleep. Kids these days know all about sun damage and the importance of Factor Fifty.

I’m glad.

I want them to be cast as handsome princes.

It’s too late for me. I think I qualify for the crone.

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