Some years ago, I remember seeing an artist's representation of all those too-fast-to-live rock stars, and how they’d look if they’d made it into their 50s and 60s. I was particularly taken by Jimi Hendrix who, had he lived to take part the Miles Davis collaboration that still captures the imagination of people who like noodly jazz-funk-rock fusion with occasional loud bits, would now look like Lester Freamon from The Wire. Apparently.
Of course, these reconstructions can have a practical benefit, especially when it comes to working out what missing children might look like. If Madeleine McCann is still alive she will now be six years old, and her parents have released an image depicting what she might look like. Of course, what they’re really doing is acknowledging that, what with the credit crunch and Jade Goody and swine flu and Susan Boyle and everything, even the mid-market tabloids had completely forgotten about her, so they needed a useful gimmick to get her back on our radar, if not to the days when her fate was so central to our very existence.
In the absence of anything approaching solid evidence, I guess they’ll be commissioning similar images every couple of years, and the media will feel duty bound to publish them. They know what sells.
So, in 12 years’ time, will we be able to enjoy reconstructions of what Madeleine McCann might look like, pissed and bleary, snapped from the gutter, as she stumbles out of a nightclub with her knickers on display?