ColumnistsPaddy Murray

Take my words for it – old age makes you selfie aware


God I hate getting old. But old I am getting.

And one thing that appears to afflict everyone who gets to a certain stage is that the memories flood into the head whether invited or not.

Sure, things have improved in some ways. But they’ve gone a little bit wrong in others.

This week, though, I wasn’t telling

Charlotte that we had a better choice of programme on television when we had one channel instead of 501; I wasn’t lecturing her about how much better The Beatles were than One Direction; and I didn’t tell her that actually going outside and playing was more rewarding than sitting watching damned Minecraft videos all day long.

I started thinking about words.

Words like ‘windows’. I remember when the only windows we had were the ones in houses and cars and buses.

Tablets were carefully locked away in the bathroom cabinet and only taken when you were sick.

Birds were the only creatures which tweeted.

And letters and parcels were what you posted.

If you were gay you were either happy or a very popular television presenter.

Madonna was a holy statue in the kitchen.

And Miley was a hapless farmhand not a (generally speaking) more-or-less naked pop singer.

But there’s one thing that hasn’t really changed at all. And that’s the selfie.


You are kidding.

Because it was back in 1839, honestly, even before the Famine, that Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, produced what was then called a daguerreotype, and is now called a photograph, of himself.

What happened was this. He set up his camera thingy. But because it took so long, he had all the time in the world to take off the lens cap, walk around, sit down and pose before the daguerreotype was taken. It was, in short, a selfie.

Can’t imagine people taking daguerrotypes or buying daguerreotype sticks…

And no, he never took my photograph. Be fair.

I’m not quite that old.