This is an old picture of me playing with the model zoo that my father made me.
It is clear to me that I have hardly changed in the intervening decades. There's been a slight redistribution of hair follicles, the addition of glasses, a doubling of height, but that's about it. My interest in the unnatural aspects of natural history has also remained constant, weathering even the priapism of adolescence; I still go to zoos and stare at the inmates.
And I still have most of those toy animals. Despite her cramped living conditions a friend kept them in a shoe-box for fourteen years during one of my footloose periods. Unfortunately there are a couple of pieces missing; a gibbon and an anteater (G, if you're reading this – I realise Ireland has suffered economic collapse, but before you emigrate could you check down the back of the sofa? Best of luck on both counts. S).
To prove I haven't changed - apart from the redistribution, addition and doubling - here's a recent portrait;
I look very writerly - the result of a trompe-l'oeil conjured up by talented stylist/photographer Annelie Bruijn.