Island Life by David Slack

Think of the children

Unless you are planning to get yourself smacked in the face with a piece of four by two this Thursday, I predict that I will be waking up on Friday morning feeling less comfortable than you. Elective surgery; upon the nose.

I have broken it twice, but being broken is only half the story. Huge, it is. In all but the fiercest storm, a small family could huddle safely in its shelter.

You may or may not be aware that certain parts of your body keep growing until the day you die. I can still recall the dismal day I learned that the nose is one of those body parts.

From time to time I would come across an article about rhinoplasty and wonder if it might be for me. I would say to friends : I've been thinking about getting my nose done. And without exception they would say in the polite way people do: no, no, it's fine, you don't need to do that, and I would say No, really. I want them to make it bigger. That would pierce their diplomatic guard; they couldn't help themselves. Embarrassed laughter.

But I would never act on it. It would be vain to get it corrected. Vain and shallow. I chose to wear my big, broken, twisted, hooked and still-growing nose with grace and forbearance.

Never say never. One day about six weeks ago, I happened to hear Michael Laws interviewing the very doctor who examines me once a year for moles, melanomas and other dangerous entities. The topic was cosmetic surgery, the lines were open and the callers could not get enough of him. He's very good at it. He took us through minor blemishes, major disfigurements and everything you have ever wanted to ask about the business of nipping and tucking.

Inevitably, there was a caller who wanted to discuss her nose. She hated it. She had hated it all her life, and she would dearly love to see it changed. The car radio now had my full attention. Dr Grey explained the practicalities of rhinoplasty, and then turned to the emotional dimension. He had seen such procedures bring much joy to people. He probably didn't use the words "Change your life" but you certainly filled yourself with the conviction that, dammit, vanity or not, this warranted further exploration.

Before you could say ear nose and throat specialist, I had an appointment. I was still a tyre-kicker at this point. For one thing, I was of the view that a general anaesthetic was something to be had only when it was completely unavoidable. In that respect, I may have been unduly cautious. Our neighbour, who's an anaesthetist, says that would have been sound thinking twenty years ago. Back then, people underestimated the risk; today, he says, it's far safer and they exaggerate the danger. Anyway, off I went to Mr Rhinoplasty Surgeon.

He had me sold at the first sentence. "I love it when people like you walk in," he said. It seems there are young women who will undergo procedures for which their need is, at most, slight. Inevitably, the results of the surgery may not be readily discernible, leading to disgruntlement. The customer is always right, especially at these rates.

In the nicest possible way, he told me there would be no danger of the difference being imperceptible in my case. He took photos, he described the procedure, and to my great delight, he informed me that there'd be no need for a general anaesthetic. It's done under intravenous sedation. One may even wear one's iPod, if one wishes.

I was sold. I returned a week later to see the indicative photos with some excitement. There on the screen of his laptop was a picture of me with a simple, regular nose. Vanity be fucked, I was having that.

Earlier this year we were on holiday with friends. The four year old said to his mother, pointing at me - Mummy, you know what he looks like? He looks like a goblin! She smiled weakly in my direction, a little flustered, I gave her a reassuring grin. And truly, I was amused, not stung. But should a man have a nose that frightens small children?

No, it would not do. Not when I could have a nose like that one there in the perdy pitcher.

So that's that. Thursday morning, I go under the knife. Christie, if you think these pictures are gory, wait until you see what I've got coming.

All I have to do now is make a playlist. I fancy the likes of Jane's Addiction, Alejandro Escovedo, Champion Jack Dupree, The Damnwells, and Charlie Robison would work well, but this is fresh territory for me, so feel free to make suggestions. What's good to listen to while you're under sedation and having a chisel taken to the middle of your face?