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When breathing easy is taken for granted

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"But are you over 65?" the pharmacist quizzed me, ogling my eerily boyish features with suspicion.

She was considering my request for one of the masks the government is issuing free of charge to seniors to help us to endure Canberra's particle-infested air.

Jessye Norman's breathing was truly breathtaking. Picture: Shutterstock

I assured her that, yes, I was well over 65, but told her how I could understand how she was deceived by my face, it being such an unlined testament to my lifetime of clean living, to my lifelong Christian abstinence from the sorts of unmentionable habits that can make a man haggard.

Sceptically, she stared and stared at me in search of something suggestive of a qualifying age. She must have found something (perhaps a gnarled ear lobe, perhaps a wisened eyelid, perhaps a tell-tale trace of grey in my flaxen locks) for, grudgingly, she reached into a box and handed me a mask.

"Do you have any other colours?" I wondered, disappointed by the white mask's drabness.

"Anything in lilac? In Raiders' green?"

But no, for the time being white is all there is. Perhaps, if this mask wearing becomes commonplace, a necessity of every Canberra summer, entrepreneurs will begin to cater for individuality, for those of us who like everything we wear to make a statement about who and what we are. Perhaps there will be whole-of-face novelty masks, with in-built particle resisting features, enabling us to go out into the........

© Canberra Times