So…back in the summer K and I had the enormous pleasure (!) of taking our teenaged daughters to Weston-super-Mare to spend the day at T4 on the Beach. I won’t bore you with the horrific details of the event…I’ll only say that it was in fact the most expensive picnic on Weston beach that I’ve ever had the misfortune to have…
Anyway, K and I spent a (only just) tolerable 7 hours there, chatting, eating, drinking coffee and generally enjoying the fact that it wasn’t pouring with rain until, around 4pm, she turned to me and said; ‘Michelle…your face… It’s really red, but just on one side….’ Much laughter ensued. ‘Actually, you look like that bloke from Phantom of the Opera’. Excellent. It’s not even sunny. How the bloody hell have I managed to get sunburnt when it’s overcast and slightly windy? I mean FFS…I even have my waterproof and wellies on…
By the time we get back to Bristol, my face is BURNING. The teenagers find it hilarious, K finds it hilarious. I don’t. I’m very concerned. It’s Sunday evening. How the hell am I going to sort out my mess of a face before going into work on Monday morning? (Where there are more teenagers. As well as some very unsympathetic members of staff)
When I get home I fashion some sort of burns-victim mask out of several sheets of wet kitchen roll in the vain hope that I can nip any burning/redness in the bud and sit with it on my face for pretty much the rest of the evening. I even took a slightly damp version that I’d left in the fridge for an hour or two to bed, again in the futile hope that it may have some remedial effect. I don’t hold out much hope though and set my alarm a full hour earlier than necessary in order to carry out the restorative work on my face in the morning.
Six o’clock rolls around. I’m straight out of bed to view the damage. Oh.My.God. This really isn’t good. I resemble Freddie Kruger. It’s incredibly unattractive. And so hot you could almost fry an egg on it. I apply three layers of foundation, realise I look like something from TOWIE (without being remotely glamorous or good-looking) take it all off and then reapply just one layer. Really carefully. I’m not too displeased with the result (really, this Lancome stuff is amazing) but I’m taking no chances. I take pretty much ALL my make-up with me, along with some cleanser and moisturiser (I have a feeling I’ll be cleansing, moisturising and reapplying at several points throughout the day) and I leave for work.
Things are going ok until G pops in to see me. We’re chatting but I’m thinking she’s looking at me a little oddly… Now G is usually the kindest person, the most considerate of people’s feelings…but I can’t help feeling that she’s noticed something strange about my appearance. ‘My face is on fire!’ I blurt out. ‘It’s killing me and I’m covered in make-up that I’m terrified will actually just melt off my face! Arrrrggggghhhh!’ (I believe these were pretty much my actual words) ‘Do I look weird G? You have to tell me. I’m almost tempted to feign illness and come back when my face has returned to normal’ G assures me that I just look like I have more make-up on than normal and her considered advice is to say absolutely nothing to anybody. They’ll all assume you’re just wearing more make-up today and that’ll be that. No-one will give it much thought. I nod at her; ‘Yes. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. That’s straightforward, sound advice, I’ll do that.’
That sensible sort of thinking lasts approximately 10 minutes. Pretty much until Ph comes into my office, takes one look at me and says; ‘Oh my God! Got enough foundation on?’ Brilliant. I’m almost crying at this point. It all comes pouring out; ‘If you must know, I got hideously burnt trying to be a nice mum and taking my daughter to T4 on the Beach and now I look like shit and people are gonna notice all day. I wish I’d stayed at home. Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!’ I did manage to elicit a sort-of apology and a sort-of back track when he tried to say that really I didn’t look that bad, just that I had (quite a lot) more make-up on than normal, but to be honest, the damage was done. I spent all day trying to avoid people, continually reapplying my make-up (that really was actually melting off my face) and confessing to anyone that looked at me about what was really going on under the layers of foundation and powder.
I managed to get through the next couple of days without too much incident. I continually moisturised and kept the make-up topped up and no-one really passed comment. Until the Wednesday. My face had been feeling unusually ‘tight’ and I know the considerable amount of make-up was doing it no favours… However, needs must and I soldiered on. I noticed that Ph looked at me a little weirdly as I left my office for the staffroom at lunchtime, but he didn’t make a comment (probably scared I really would cry. Actual tears that he’d have to look at and everything). However, on arriving at my usual seat, G looked up and said (bearing in mind all the things I said about her before….kind, considerate and all that…); ‘What on earth is happening with your face??’ Noooooooo! I reach up and can actually feel that bits of it may be about to fall off. This is just awful! I hurriedly eat my lunch and disappear back to my office where I start the re-moisturising process for what feels like the 137th time that week. Clearly, the draw of my skin flailing off in shards was far too much for F who appeared at my office for a chat. We’re chatting, I’m re-moisturising, when she turns to me and says words along the lines of; ‘Michelle. I think your face is actually falling off’. And she’s right. I’m finding actual bits of skin in my hands. This is horrific! I’m trying really hard to act as normally as possible, chatting happily about whatever thing of vital importance we’re discussing but my face is literally falling off in my hands…and onto my desk and my clothes…just bloody everywhere really. F continues to chip in really helpful comments like 'I don't know why you just didn't call in sick...' and 'This is actually really funny!' I’m trying to style it out and be cool as F gets up to leave. She’s just walking through the door as she turns to me and says (with a very straight face it has to be said…well done F!); ‘Michelle, I think you’ve got a bit of your face on your top.’
So…the rest of my face did indeed fall off. I peeled most of it off in my office. The rest came off during my shower that evening. But what I was actually left with was really smooth skin (a little tender, it has to be said – but smooth and silky nonetheless). It was like having (I imagine…I don’t really get the opportunity to partake in cosmetic surgery) a chemical peel. Only it took days to peel the unwanted skin from my face and I had to do it in the glaring publicity of a busy secondary school. However, it was sort of worth all the humiliation. It was in true MRMD style everso-slightly-traumatic and a little bit ‘can’t-polish-a-turd’ like but the end result was happy enough. I had smooth skin. There doesn’t seem to have been any lasting damage (other than the fact that I am now absolutely terrified to show my face to the sun for fear of a repeat performance). And now the horror and the icky feeling of foundation melting off my face has gone and several months have passed, I’m able to see the funny (possibly even hilarious) side to the whole event.
After all, who wouldn’t when you’re left with these words ringing in your ears?
‘Michelle, I think you’ve got a bit of your face on your top’