Tag Archives: men

Grit and flair

At last count, the population of Venezuela was 32,157,182. I’ve taken this from a site that claims to have ‘live’ statistics, as bespectacled men roam South American hospitals impatiently tapping pens against clipboards to the sound of perineal tearing.

That’s a lot of people. Think of the huge range of talents there must be. Massive potential for growth and betterment. Imagine what a country that size could achieve if it made the most of its latent expertise.

Today, Nicolas Maduro has declared he’s the only one out of the lot of them with the stature and smarts to lead his country beyond its next election. As a result, he’s banned opposition parties from standing. All of them. Anyone who’s not him.

He’s a man in power. And if you think we’re giving that up any time soon you’ve a rude one coming.

Continue reading Grit and flair

Counting cadavers

It can’t be easy being Nigel Farage. I could end it there I suppose, to a round of applause and sage nodding from whoever read that sentence, but I honestly find myself feeling sorry for the jowly twat from time to time.

Not when he was photographed in the wreckage of that plane, of course. It’s possible I’ve never laughed more than when I saw that photo of him seemingly in tears, surrounded by wings, fins, fuselage and whatever diabolical banner he’d been dragging along behind the aircraft. But when a man is forced to defend the reduction of money spent on sea patrols stopping migrants popping over from Libya, while faced with hundreds of bobbing corpses gently nudging the walls of Valetta, you do wonder what he thinks as he peers at his rubbery face in the mirror before bed at night. “Oh no, I’m really evil” must be up there I’d have thought.

Nevertheless poor Nigel must stick to his guns amid the carnage in the Mediterranean, while the rest of us are able to stare in horror at the condition we’ve allowed the human race to get to that leads to people so desperate to get to Europe they’ll gladly accept the risk of terrifying wet death. One of the survivors said he was heading for Austria. Even the reporter sounded confused.

And yet as I watched the rolling news on the day of the biggest recent tragedy, horror turned to anger at one of the lines I read across the bottom of the screen: “800 feared dead, including 250 women”.

Well, fuck. I hadn’t planned to care about these 800 people when I thought they were all men, but now you’ve told me well over a quarter had a vagina I’m straight on the line to my MP demanding action; ideally action involving the immediate execution of 250 men – doesn’t matter who they are, a few Welsh choirs maybe – to redress the balance.

I’m no feminist, and many feminists would probably view me as unreconstructed scum. I joke about women down the pub with mates, though no more than anyone else and certainly no more than that shrieking gaggle of drunken harpies over there is joking about us. I often call women ‘birds’, not to their face, and occasionally call one ‘love’, to her face. Yet I’ve never been slapped by a woman, they don’t seem to view me as anything other than a normal man and as far as I know I treat women with the same respect I do men outside of a spot of light-hearted buggering about.

All of that would send various feminists into a tailspin I have no doubt. I don’t care. And the reason I don’t care is that there are so many far, far worse things people do to women that we – men and women – should be working together to put an end to. Rape is used as a weapon of war, incredibly. Men in certain parts of the world view women as property, or think that a woman out on her own at night, or out with a male friend she’s not related to, is somehow fair game or asking for it (‘it’ in that case stretching all the way up to brutal murder). Women are killed by their own families for ‘dishonouring’ them. Levels of pay equality between men and women are atrocious. Women are routinely persecuted by various religions that command countless millions, billions even, of followers around the world. All of this is outrageous beyond measure.

Nevertheless, the notion that women are inherently more important than men to the extent that they consistently warrant a unique mention in death tolls is infuriating. Can you promise me that the men on that boat were in some way less vital than the women? I doubt their families would agree, if the poor sods are ever identified. Can there be any logical justification for ‘including 250 women’?

To some extent I understand it when children get a separate mention. I don’t share the same obsession with kids that some do; not in the Watkins sense, but in that ‘won’t someone think of the children’ way that some people have. It seems to be a huge thing for some people, parents and weirdos mostly, but we can let that pass.

And when a ship’s going down, and the men are expected to stand aside for the ‘women and children first’, I get that too. Men are expected to exhibit some degree of gallantry or chivalry and die first, probably because it was their kind who built a shoddy vessel or left the bow doors open having got pissed in the Boar’s Head an hour before leaving the jetty.

But when it comes to telling me how many people have perished in the latest atrocity, tragedy or natural disaster I really don’t find myself hoping beyond hope that every victim has a cock. It’s bewildering that there’s someone in a news room asking the question, “But how many women died?” And how many Mongolians? How many blondes? How many people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome? They’ll be hoping for a small figure for that last one. It’s amazing that the people counting cadavers evidently separate them into two categories based on the chromosomes they possess.

People are people and they die all the time. It’s sad when it happens. Still, corpses are lifeless hulks of meat that we burn to make space for a replacement, and nothing more. Regardless of how men are all bastards and we’re the ones who’ve created the dreadful world we all fearfully step into each morning, praying none of the many terrors we’ll face are awful enough to end us, it’s not more sad when a woman dies than when a man does.

And though it will entertain me long into the afternoon wondering what my first question would have been had Nigel Farage died in that plane crash, I’m damn sure it wouldn’t have been: “But how is his wife?”

The full ZZ Top

Shaving is a genuine pain in the neck.

I can get away with doing it every other day, but as I am the proud owner of a beard I have to maintain the beard on my jaw as well as deal with the stubble that surrounds it.

I’ve had a beard as long as I’ve been able to; having worked at McDonalds for four years during my college years, I had to be clean-shaven, as if some designer stubble was going to fall into a burger and affect the flavour or something. As soon as I left that job, I had the Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Craig David, the Ed Norton in American History X – variants on goatees that steadily morphed in to scruffy beards.

But in 2015 I don’t think designer stubble is even a thing any more – we now have designer beards. Everyone who didn’t have beards last year now has a thick, black beard. Watch an episode of Emmerdale, and you’ll note that hairy chins are no longer confined to tramps and lumberjacks – they refuse entry to The Woolpack if you aren’t packing the full ZZ Top. It’s a trend that’s taken over from sleeve tattoos and blokes getting both of their ears pierced (what the fuck was that all about?)

You know what started all of this off? Movember. Ever since some charity worker mis-spelt the eleventh month of the year and tried to convince us that “moustache” and “November” makes Movember, it’s become an annual event for bald-faced bell-ends. One that I can’t actually get involved with, because if I didn’t shave or trim my top lip over the course of 30 days, I’d look like Yosemite Sam.

And that’s the beauty of a beard – they give your face character, but also have character themselves. Some sections grow faster or thicker than others, some look lighter or have ginger patches. You can customise them, much more than you can with pubic hair.

And yet we’ve got men in their twenties dying their beards. There’s men putting gel and softener on their faces. What the fuck are they playing at? They want women to play with their beard like a fucking Yorkshire Terrier or something.

This is the reality of living with a beard. Have you ever used an electric trimmer and found you spend the rest of the morning picking bits of stubble out of your eyes? I have, and it’s twice as bad when you have contact lenses in. I find myself closing my eyes when trimming in an upwards direction, for fear of wasting a weekend plucking hair from my pupils. Being blind and hairy is the worst combination since fat and ugly.

Shaving in the bath, a technique commonly practised by ladies, is a fucking nightmare if you wear glasses. Spectacles and hot water just don’t complement each other – because of this I’ve had to give up reading in the shower. Your lenses get steamed up instantly, leaving you with worse vision than not wearing any at all. So unless you wear contacts in the bath (which is oddly frowned upon by opticians), shaving may as well take place with a potato peeler.

And yet, I still do it. Blindly dragging a Gillette across my neck just because I’ve always believed that steam and hot water “opens the pores”. It opens something, and something pours, but I’ve always felt that a neck full of razor bumps still feels smarter than scruffy stubble when working in an office, even when colleagues point out the blood on my collar like we’re in a scene from Shaun of the Dead.

I blame my dad. Growing up I sat through many a family dinner with my father bleeding profusely whilst we ate, patched up with tiny pieces of toilet paper. To be fair, my dad would buy the cheapest blades in the store – he would have shed less blood unscrewing and using a pencil sharpener blade. Now that I’m a father myself, I can only imagine the horror my daughter sees every time she dries her hands on a white towel.

My neck may look like the nozzle of a watering can, but at least it’s smooth. Until tomorrow that is.