Not rich, not poor

Passing by the dining room table, my rather snooty university friend stopped in her tracks, and said:’What a beautiful graduation photo of you. I wish mine were half as good.’

I was somewhat amazed to say the least. Cynical me wondered a) if she thought the photographer had worked miracles getting me to look halfway decent and b) that she had always thought I wasn’t worth looking at.

Which brings me to the choice of photo for this post. I was brought up to eschew vanity. So long as I had a nice cardigan, shiny leather shoes and a clean pressed hanky, all would be well in the world.

When my teenage schoolpals were busily trying out their free eyeshadow courtesy of Jackie or Fab 208, I was stuck with slapping Vaseline on my eyelids as my father considered eyeshadow to be something used only by prostitutes.

Eventually at university, I took my life in my hands and got blonde highlights (as in the photo). My mother and I conspired for years to tell my father it was the joint effect of lemon juice and the sun. Prostitutes dyed their hair as well as wearing eyeshadow, you see.

I got rid of the cardies, the shiny leather shoes and the hankies. I even wore eyeshadow, and dyed my hair. But I never learned how to do one of those amazing toothpaste smiles. Which is why you rarely see me smiling on photos. Or see me at all on photos.

When I did try a couple of smiles at home, my mother unhelpfully told me it was artificial and like the sickly smile produced by my ghastly headmistress. Sort of curbs the enthusiasm for learning to smile.

So my first very simple, and very genuine regret is, that I didn’t learn to do more with my appearance. Somehow 50+ seems a bit late. Because, as we all know, appearances matter. Just wish I’d known that 30-odd years ago.

My second regret, is on the time rich, money poor theme, or vice versa. I went to university back in the days of Grants! and Paid Fees! I really really feel for young people going to university and having to get part-time jobs to make ends meet. Apart from anything else it totally discriminates against students from poorer backgrounds.

In my last year, my grant was assessed at 50:50, ie I got half from the local authority of whatever sum it was, and my dad was to make up the rest of it. Naturally, I told him I would manage on the local authority money only. I knew how poor he was (that was why he had to contribute, right?), and anyway, I went home every Friday night, to work for the family business on Saturday, for which I did get paid. So I was getting enough wasn’t I?

Regret number two – that I didn’t say, ‘I’ll take the rest of the contribution towards my year’s maintenance thank you daddy, and you can stick the family job. I’ll try for a little independence in my life without running home every weekend for you to check I am ok.’ If I’d done that, I might even have managed time rich, money rich, – and life rich ? – for a short while.

Duotone note. I was fascinated to see that it picked up almost perfectly the colour of my academic hood, which is ‘apple blossom silk edged with fur.’ (Do hope the fur was fake). I must say, I think choice of hood should be a serious consideration when choosing one’s degree and one’s university. I liked this one.

Photo courtesy of whoever it was took my graduation photos a zillion years ago. Removal of halo from my original photo of the photo (below) courtesy of pix & kardz.

But as it’s the only halo I will probably ever have, I had to leave it up for posterity.


38 comments on “Not rich, not poor”

  1. K, now that is an unexpected click – and it is a great one, too. K, as in OK, I like it!
    but based on another comment, I take it you are ‘K’ or Kate? 🙂 Not sure which you prefer to be called, so i will let you fill in that gap for me. in the meantime, K is simply as indicated above 🙂
    in any event, this is much better than any of my grad photos. i only got as far as a BA, so there was no fur involved, only some silk edging on a black gown. and i didn’t get to have a halo above me. what is that anyhow? a reflection of the flash when you took a pic of a pic? 😀
    a smile is always someone’s best asset, and i am a firm believer that it’s never too late to evolve one. i suspect that Pippa witnesses many of them – because it’s those kind of moments, when we smile for a reason and not just for a pose, that we smile our best. and from your sense of humour, i can imagine you have many reasons to smile.
    and based on this photo, it is definitely within you, so there you go. this was not intended as a rah-rah comment. but just putting it out there, as i get off my soap box. 🙂
    have a great wednesday – i am calling it a day here on tuesday 🙂
    good night!
    PS: Duotone: well done! And good that there was so much sunshine about so that your hair got the perfect tone to match your blog 😀


    • Thanks C/K 😀 I have no strong views about what I am called, which reminds me someone else has asked that and I MUST reply! Bit surprised to see you still up, nearly midnight where you are methinks.

      I told you it would be different 😉 thought it would be good to add a different angle to the mini-series, but it still fits with the regret aspect and the time v money. For some reason, although that was just the BA, my university had fur trimmed hoods for first degree 🙂 No idea what the second degree one was as I never went to the ceremony. You may make me DDG (Duck Duck Go rather than Google).

      The halo? Spot on. Couldn’t get rid of it however I tried, and this was just a quick snap for a blog post. The ‘real’ photographer took the initial photo.

      Can’t remember the colour of the hair tone, but it was one of those that veered towards golden blond rather than silver ash tones – so yes, I was clearly thinking about Duotone even then 😀

      Raining and stormy here this morning, so if it continues I may get some nice wet pics. Love rainy pics. It will probably clear up by the time I get moving though.


  2. OMG!, I can’t believe how strict your youth was, I always thought mine was (eventually being allowed to have my own mind around 14ish), but yours was way ahead.
    The pic? I like it, you look happy and relaxed 🙂


    • With hindsight come pros and cons, and that includes re-assessment of my allegedly idyllic childhood. Can’t libel the dead, so no harm saying what I think – and to be honest, some of it I thought at the time too. Just not quite so rebelliously. 14??? 😀 My father was famous for saying that I would still be his ‘Little Girl’ even at 30!! FFS. By which time I had got one degree, been round the world, got married, and bought my first house, and landed a good job in London. Oh, and qualified as a journalist as well. Forgot that one. Thanks dad for that crap.

      Sounds like you did get more leeway than I did, which is interesting given we came from the same place – there may not have been much difference in our parents’ ages as mine were mid 30s when I was born. Good thing I never had kids – poor things would have been allowed to run riot 😀 not on public transport of course though (if you remember a previous blog post).

      I enjoyed university – the graduation pic? Good photographer to get that expression out of me. Seriously.


  3. […] Some time ago, on one of my other many blogs, I posted a pic of me – link here. […]


  4. I clicked real fast. Ms. Gib you and I have/had a type of father that every little girl deserves. 🙂 Straight laced and very strict. I am always amazed that I came out relatively sane. (I think). This is an excellent pic of you. You are quite attractive and look really happy in this photo. I’ll click on the other link tonight. I really need to nap for a little while. 🙂


    • We have the parents we have (or rather had). Not much you can do about them either way, enjoy the good bits and try and get over the bad. I’m not sure I did come out sane.

      Professional photographer, so he did well. I have another one wearing the mortar board, but haven’t got it with me at the moment. In 50 something years, the one on this post is probably one of the better ones of me. Like many people, I’m much happier behind a lens.


  5. Thanks for the reply, Ms Gib. I want to throw this in while it is still on my pea brain. (I.) My Adobe Photoshop costs me around $100. (2.) I would not spend thousands on the professional version unless I made a living as a pro photographer. (3.) I am not a fan of too much altering unless one aims at an attempt to make the pic a “work of art.” (4.) I don’t have the time to spend diddling to edit a photo unless I had the know how to learn how to use the sharpening tool. The other tool is the eraser which I could really use to get rid of power lines lines and ugly distracting objects in a photo. (5.) I know how to turn a photo into a monochrome or sepia. I like the duotone here. And finally, I don’t have much time after piddling in my own blog plus those of my favorite bloggers.

    And like you there are few photos of mysefl. I’ve never been comfortable with posing but there have actually 🙂 been rare times when I looked decent in a photograph. I have not idea what made the difference during those times.



    • I’m losing track of my comments that I need to reply to! Sorry this is late. I’ve not seen any version of Photoshop that is remotely under a few hundred pounds sterling let alone a hundred bucks, which would be what, say £65? Dirt cheap.

      My fiddles are very complex. I boost saturation and contrast. I do know how to sharpen but I’ve not been happy with the results so stopped doing that. I can do the colour changes too, but rarely do it. Less is more with B&W.

      I got hooked on DuoTone after visiting a friend’s blog. The surprise element makes it fun. It’s even more fun to try and manipulate the colour choice and fail miserably 😀

      Thanks Y, appreciate your time taken to comment.


      • I would not have bought PS if it had been much more than 100 bucks or a bit more. It might have been cheap because this one had been out for awhile and several more versions came out after the one I bought. It is simply Adobe Photoshop Elements. Now I have no desire to fiddle with pics I don’t have the time and it involves too much fiddling for my likes. 🙂


  6. Wow! That pic of you is beautiful… I love it. Why did you have to get old? 😛
    Things were rather tight for you then, in a way and what strictness… there’s a story in you yet, Kate… that would make a promising book cover. 😉


    • It’s ok as pix go, but thanks. Better getting old than not 😛

      Yeah, there are a few stories … And of course, anyone who knew my family at the time would think I was making it up. Similar to some of yours but in a different way.

      Boring book cover. Rock chick in Sydney in leather trousers is better. Nude photo in shower in Sydney possibly better still 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I had a friend from university, died before he even got to 40 😦 I’d seen him afterwards at a mutual friend’s house, and he looked fine, in our late twenties at that point. Ten years later ? Gone.

    I don’t know about the personal dramas. Do people really want to read about it? My father threatening to pull the bath towel away from me, so in the end I just dropped it and stood there. I was beginning to wonder who was the adolescent.

    Considering I was mid twenties, I looked very young. Nice pic though. 🙂


  8. So what’s plain about that?
    As for smiling…I think those were different days…i can remember my headmistress telling the upper sixth – about to go out into the world – that smiling widely was vulgar, and that was before the days of American teeth which i have to admit I find distinctly offputting when they are bared in greeting.


    • Well, it’s all in the perspective I guess. There are a few decent photos of me kicking around, my grad one is amongst the handful. I have a snooty one with the mortarboard which is much more me 🙂

      I don’t understand the US toothpaste snarl. I find Snowy’s teeth preferable.


  9. Leo can’t take a pic of me because his hands are too paralysed to operate the bits and bobs on the camera….I don’t have a ‘phone that takes pics…so the only ones I have are the usual prison line up ones for passport and cedula…


  10. What a gorgeous, happy photo. I do have a graduation portrait somewhere, professionally taken – not on the day, but a while later.

    Much of what you say in that piece resonates for me, on many levels. My father hated my messing with my hair and my mother constantly told me I was “Big Ears” – complete with the ears and teeth. I mention in my second school reunion post about being ugly and my mother dressing me funny: boarding school was the way I dealt with some of that stuff. Like you, I’m only sorry it’s taken me to get to my 50’s to lose some of my inhibitions/gain confidence in myself and to dress as I please! (Although some of that has been precipitated by the climate in which we now live….) And, I might add, it’s garnered me more compliments than I’ve ever had!


    • Oh Fiona, sorry I missed this. I can’t remember if this was taken on the day or not. Funny how unsupportive our parents can be with their negative messages. Does wonders for self-esteem eh? There’s a certain confidence that comes with age but it would have been nice to have had a little of it 30 or 40 years ago. That’s life though. We have to take what we have at the time.


  11. Beautiful grad shot and I Kris fixed it perfectly and that smile is just gorgeous. I believe if you have beautiful teeth, smile. When you get old you lose them. Gorgeous hair as well. 😀


  12. I got caught up in your bird post again tonight — and read through all the comments again to find the ones I hadn’t seen yet — and you linked to this one.
    And I have to say that the first thing I noticed when I looked at that picture was your gorgeous smile! Seriously!


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