Has anyone noticed that John McEnroe has started to look a bit like Norman Mailer?
It’s all part of my mid-life crisis, I suppose, but now I am approaching my mid - as opposed to early - forties, I have begun to study the way men’s faces age.
After half a lifetime of gazing intently at ladies and being blind to the looks of men, I have just hit 43 and suddenly become extremely interested in what happens to the older chap’s hairline, ears, nostril hair, that sort of thing.
I hope I’m not being unkind in comparing the erstwhile Superbrat to Mailer, the literary enfant terrible who was 35 years McEnroe’s senior when he died last year.
McEnroe, who doesn’t turn 50 until February and is still able to compete with considerable success on the senior tennis circuit, is clearly a long way from popping his clogs.
There is, moreover, no reason why the two should start to look alike. They are genetically dissimilar, as (if these things mean anything much) Mailer was Jewish, and McEnroe is of Irish extraction.
Yet I think it’s possible, looking at pictures of them both, to see that Johnny Mac has set off on the road to getting Mailer’s face, or something very like it.
The dark curly head banded locks of his “You Can Not Be Serious!” pomp have slowly succumbed to snowy white and grey curls atop a prominent forehead - a look similar to the wispy white barnet sported by Mailer in his later years.
Deprived of the cover afforded by those youthfully extravagant curls, McEnroe’s ears and nose look much bigger all of a sudden - again a bit like Mailer, who in his final years even had a whiff of the pixie about him.
Quite when our old faces take over and the younger ones disappear, it is hard to tell.
Before I acquired my ‘penalty spot’ of baldness on the back of my head (my wife talks, rather meanly, of a ‘penalty area’), I hadn’t noticed follicles giving up the ghost one by one.
Instead, these changes just creep up on you until, one otherwise cheerful sunny morning whose light quality brooks no argument, your body presents you with a new fait accompli of decrepitude; a new blemish or forfeiture of puissance as clear as the whitewash on a freshly marked 18-yard box.
The other day, looking up from sink to bathroom mirror, I saw that what remained of my fringe was, like the walls of a sandcastle at high tide, finally morphing into a Ray Reardon style widow’s peak as the hair on either side of it melted away.
Of course, hair loss is merely a symptom of age, but one of the most appalling things about the symptoms of ageing is that they themselves have unexpected side effects.
For example, the side effect of having lots of pink skin now poking through greying hair is that I am simply not the same colour as I used to be - particularly when I have a haircut and a fine fuzz of light grey covers my dome instead of the black I remember.
So even if I carry on raging against the dying of the light and exercising like fury, merely in order to get into my jeans for another year, I will still have to change all my clothes because they don’t match my new colour tones.
Like Roger Moore said in a recent newspaper interview, old age is shit, and I anticipate that few of the surprises that will greet me from here on in will be pleasant.
It’s not even out of the question that, if I can bear to endure another 41 years of slow decline, I might look into the mirror one otherwise cheerful sunny morning and find I suddenly have a bit of the pixie about me, too.