Skin deep: How skin came to be so important to humans

Skin deep: How skin came to be so important to humans
Skin has become a global preoccupation. We describe things as ‘skin deep’, and while we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, we do. Andy Martin explains how this came to be


is real name, if I remember correctly, was Connelly. But in fact everybody called him “Lizard Man”. There are two important things you need to know about Lizard Man: one, that his skin was scaly, hence the moniker; two, that he had a heart of gold and was kind to animals, children and old ladies. Sadly, the one thing that everyone picked on was the scales. Lizard Man, by our standards, was one ugly human being, and never failed to arouse a degree of revulsion from passersby.

So one fine day he is waiting for a bus. As usual he has his hat pulled down, his collar pulled up, and a scarf wrapped round the lower portion of his face. Just enough nose showing to breathe. And he has dark glasses on too. Even so, there is no one else at the bus stop waiting with him since anyone else has done a runner, revolted by the sight of him.

The bus arrives and he hops on. Lizard Man notices that it doesn’t seem to be going his usual route. He is even more surprised when it takes off, like a plane, and then, going up a few gears, flies through outer space and lands on a planet in a galaxy far, far away. Lizard Man is welcomed like a hero by the beautiful beings who populate this other world because he is recognised as having the most radiant soul in the universe. They do not notice the scales. They see only the inside not the outside.