With the lifting of Covid restrictions in England, I have found it surprisingly difficult to ditch the mask. I have rather enjoyed the cloak of anonymity––only greater anonymity, surely? (Ed.)––that it has afforded me. It has provided warmth like a muffler in the winter; and it has made me feel impregnable––be it rightly or wrongly––from a disease-ridden world. My fabric mask has become the comfort blanket, beneath which I can hide myself away from all the worst of the world’s woes, immediate, international or imaginary.
Giving it up is going to require a period of cold turkey.
Admittedly, the duration of my own mask-wearing has not be so extended or so arduous as that of the more illustrious, although similarly-monikered, Man in the Iron Mask. The unidentified prisoner, celebrated in literature by both Dumas and Voltaire, was held in a variety of French jails for 34 years, until his death in 1703, his face concealed beneath a mask––variously described as being made of black velvet or iron––and was only ever officially referred to by the name Marchioly. Rumours continue to abound regarding his true identity, most of which speculate some close relationship to French king, Louis XIV.
The subject of my own identity provides a far less productive debate, and my own mask-wearing has precious little to do with any likelihood of making a claim upon the French throne, but I do find it a matter of passing interest that an object, which I scorned two years ago, has now become as commonplace an item of clothing in my wardrobe as either my socks or my trousers.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Tourneur-Arbre wonders if there may be any Bourbon blood in him?