I've done it again, and I promised myself that I wouldn't.
For such small things, their absence really makes a difference. What may not have been a beautiful reflection - but at least a familiar one - is changed utterly. Without those beautifully curved, or at least bushily abundant, landmarks, the pasty blob of skin becomes rudderless. Piggy lights, ample hooter and the too-wide cavern beneath are stranded on a (if you're lucky) cactus-free but boring terrain. You decide you never, ever want to drive through the endless plains of mid-America, because you would recognise the scenery only too well.
The application of a hint of mascara, good foundation and a cheerful lipstick helps somewhat, but somehow without the landmark eyelashes, the face is not a pretty sight - particularly in the first hours of morning light.
Being too lazy to make an appointment in good time, and then the demands of the season eats into the hours that are left. And then, if you are quite unlucky but intensely creative, you spot a box in the chemist - Home Eyelash Dyeing - and your feverish hands pluck it from its perch and drop it into the silly small basket which is already over-laden with more than enough toiletries to cope with any female relations whom you suddenly have decided will be offended forever if they turn up and there is no gift for them.
Of course all these things languish in the back of the wardrobe for days. The sensitive females don't show, no urgent wrapping is necessary.
On the third day of Christmas, the discarded paper from received gifts that have added to the accumulation of debris on the bedroom floor cry out for dumping, and in the course of the operation the treacherous little box emerges and calls to you. Such a quiet few days ahead. Ample time to beautify yourself for the New Year round of events (there are none, but you never know what will turn up). You look at the directions - which, of course, are written in such a small font that you cannot remove your spectacles and read at the same time. You memorise Steps 1, 2 and 3 and head for the bathroom. Applying first the lotion, then the gel onto the miniscule comb that you drop several times into the wash-basin, then comb to lashes may sound like a simple routine. It's not. Especially when hampered by several re-reads of the instruction leaflet that slides dangerously over the porcelain lid of the w.c. every time you put it down. (Yes, I have already closed the lid on the w.c. but you're never sure, are you, that you did that, so the fear is all encompassing).
What a lovely neat job. It will be a great success this time....I'm sure of it. Black lashes begin to make themselves visible. It says 'brownish-black' on the box. But still.... More and more black lashes continue to people your forehead. The end result is more like Coco the Clown than Coco Chanel. You scrub with soap and hot water, resisting the use of the nail brush in case you remove all hair follicles accompanied by underlying skin.
Twenty minutes later you resign yourself to the fact that you won't be going anywhere over New Year. You will be hiding behind a heavy veil, only emerging from the (fairly) safe confines of the bedroom until the colour fades.
That's when you promise yourself, Never Again!