“Did you ever play the looky-likey game?” T. asked me this as we were sitting at the airport. I didn’t know what it was, but I should have guessed from the name. “Take yer man over there, he looks a bit like Declan Donnelly.” “Well I don’t know whether I agree with you or not, as I don’t know who you’re talking about” “The one from Ant and Dec.” “Oh right, and which of them do you think he looks like? “Well if I have to tell you then clearly he doesn’t look that much like him!” The game of ‘looky-likely’ was duly abandoned. We all play it from time to time, whether we mean to or not. S. told me she was stopped in a café by a man who held her arm excitedly and wouldn’t release her as he scoured his memory to recall who she reminded him of. It turned out to be Judi Dench. She looks nothing like Judi Dench and yet, she said, her spitting image spotter appeared as delighted as if he’d actually met the Dame.
Such stories beget more of the same. S. then showed me photos of her friend who really does look like Jackie Chan – so much so that he could be a body (and face) double. Looking across the room at S.’s partner M. it suddenly came to me that I was looking at Andrew Ridgley’s doppelganger! “Who is he?” M. asked, pulling out his phone to check out some images. “He was the other half of ‘Wham!’” I tell him. M. found a current picture and I thought I could see by the quizzical look on his face that he agreed with me. “He’s worth £25 million, it says here. Do you think I could get a cut of that for looking like him?” he joked. I really didn’t think so, “I’m sure there’s a market for lookalikes, but Andrew Ridgley might be a bit past it. If you looked like Meghan Markle, well, that would be a different kettle of fish altogether!”
Every so often an old photograph will be posted on our family whatsapp group. Recently one appeared of C. taken twenty odd years ago. The usual array of comments was pasted below, one saying: ‘Hey C., you look just like Kevin Costner’. I took another look. Actually, he did, maybe even better looking. Not that I would ever tell him, his head would swell to the size of Luxembourg.
The best story of this ilk I ever heard was one where the lookalike spotting was turned on its head. About 15 years ago T. was waiting to board a flight at Brussels airport. Wearing a full-length leather coat, tumbling auburn curls and striking blue eyes, she was her usual good-looking self. Lost in her magazine, she was interrupted by an American accent. “Excuse me Miss, you look very familiar. Have we met before?” My friend claims to have looked up into the face of Lionel Richie. “No, I don’t think so,” she told him politely and she settled back to browsing the fashion pages. I love that story, and I am prepared to believe her, so beguiled am I by the turn of the wheel.
Towards the end of a recent visit with two friends, R. said to me, “You know, I’ve not seen it before but you are becoming very like your mother.” To which M. added his soft contradiction: “Well, I think you look just like yourself.” Yes, we can carry a strong family resemblance; like trees on the edge of a still lake, it’s almost inevitable that we’ll find reflections of ourselves in each other, but we are fundamentally our own selves with our own look. And so, in keeping with M.’s verdict, I’m going to drop the looky-likely game, for a while anyway, and start to allow myself to see people looking just like themselves!