In preparation for our forthcoming video for the song “The Lonely Irishman” (launch date 17 November 2011), Leon’s girlfriend offered to prepare latex make-up to make Chris look old. To achieve this, she proposed to make a Plaster of Paris mould of his face, then fill it with latex. However, as she’d not done it in a while, Leon volunteered his face for a trial run. It went horribly wrong. Leon promised he would blog this as soon as he had all the pics. He now does, so in his own words:
“I really, genuinely didn’t think anything could go wrong with such an innocent plan. It started at Em’s flat, which looks out onto the main shopping street in Letchworth. She covered her sofa in plastic sheets, then I lay on them whilst she mixed up the plaster. She slapped it liberally over my face, leaving me two nose holes (without which I would most certainly now be dead).
Within seconds, I could feel the mask solidifying around my face. This was not initially unpleasant, although I found that I immediately couldn’t talk properly. Fortunately, Em can read me like a book, & could pretty much understand what I was saying, after the third time of saying it, at least. 10 minutes passed, & Em decided it was time for the mask to come off. I felt her grab either side of the plaster, & gently pull. I’m sure you’ve all guessed what happened next, but just in case, I’ll proffer the obvious – it didn’t come off. ”Didn’t come off” is actually a bit of an understatement – it didn’t budge a millimetre. ”Hmm, it’s never done this before”, chuckled Em, & I must admit, I laughed too. It took us a good 15 minutes to work out what was going on, but we eventually realised that Em had forgotten to Vaseline me, & that the mask was adhered to every single hair on my face. I hadn’t shaved for a good 3-4 days, & the cast had plenty to grip on to. Taking into consideration my morbid fear of water, we decided to soak my jaw in a hot bath. Half an hour later, we managed to remove plaster from my forehead, but that was it. I then (through muffled mouth & rising panic) suggested she call ‘someone’. She didn’t take this the way I intended it, & did what every girl would have done, & called her Dad. Now, Mike’s a wise old soul, but he was unsurprisingly useless here, having never actually dealt with a Plaster of Paris mould stuck to a man’s face before. I was a little firmer with Em, & through a serious of muffled grunts & mimed finger-jabbing, told her to ring 999. She did, & whilst we waited for the ambulance, I had to go through my first humiliation of the evening – having my girlfriend dress me. I only had a limited amount of clothing with me, & so for all of you looking at the pics below & wondering why I decided to wear that particularly natty green shirt – well, it was the only item of clothing I had that didn’t have to go over my head.
The ambulance arrived reasonably promptly, & as the crew entered the flat, they both burst into laughter at the sight of me. Indeed, they even asked if they could take photos on their phones. I willingly obliged, & was relieved by their mirth; despite admitting they’d “never seen anything like this before”, their humour confirmed what Em & I were both thinking – removing this should be pretty easy. I had to be led down two flights of stairs onto the busiest street in Letchworth, into the ambulance. Once inside, I got Em to take some pics, thinking it would provide a funny blog. Here’s me somehow managing to give her an evil glare through an inch of plaster -
We arrived at hospital – I believe they took me in the back way to spare my blushes, but this was short-lived, as – just like the ambulance crew – every member of staff found the sight of me hilarious. More photos. The head doctor (formerly a surgeon, which turned out to be a bloody good thing) took one look at me & said, “You really shouldn’t try this at home”. He then left me to continue soaking my face (in a dish you piss into, brilliantly) whilst he dealt with the genuinely ill. He kept popping in to see if it was coming off. It wasn’t. He sounded more & more worried, every time he came to see me.
It must have been around 10:30pm when he finally gave me his full attention. Having considered every option, he figured the only way to get it off was to use a stitch cutter (just like this one), & to cut (or in about half the cases, tear out) every hair on my face, one at a time. And so it began, primarily with my throat/neck area; a sharp piece of plaster was jabbing my Adam’s apple, & they wanted a clear airway. Here’s what that looked like after he’d cut (& then snapped) that section off -
Yes, it was as sore as it looks. And this was how the next six hours carried on for me; I hadn’t figured out that the cast would also be stuck to my eyebrows & eyelashes, & I found out the hard way. Having a lump of plaster hanging off my eyelashes & then having a scalpel that close to my eye to cut off/tear out said lashes will stay with me to the grave. I’ve not cried in pain since I was a little boy, but I’m not ashamed to admit that the mask filled with tears & dribble on more than one occasion that night. Here are some more pics of the removal procedure; I especially like the expression on the face of the male nurse in one of these -
I’m wet because they doused me in several litres of water to soften the hair (remember what I said earlier about the fear of water), & I’m holding me eye because it was full of grit & it hurt if I didn’t hold it.
All in all, it took 11 hours from the mask going on, to the last of it to be removed. I had my mouth covered for a good seven hours, & my eyes for a good nine hours. I had to piss in front of Em, fart in front of nurses & scream within earshot of everyone else in A&E. I’d like to publicly thank the doctor, who worked five hours later than he was supposed to, & despite it being her fault, I’d like to thank my girlfriend, who was incredibly supportive, & risked her job to ensure she didn’t abandon me (yes, her employers considered disciplining her for not going into work three hours after we got out of hospital).
This happened on 31 August/01 September 2011, & I’m writing this on 04 November 2011, where I can confirm that my eyebrows/eyelashes are 95% back to normal. The eyelashes grew back quite stubbly, which was painful every time I blinked. There are a few patches of beard between my chin & my throat that haven’t started growing back yet, too.
Finally, here are the pics I took when we got home from hospital. Zoom in if you’re feeling brave…”