Monday, 18 July 2011

Slaphead Sanctuary

Why has the male wig wearer been a figure of fun since the silent movie age? It doesn’t make sense when given anything more than superficial scrutiny.

In the modern age, if a man or woman finds anything objectionable or unattractive about their physical appearance, they can do something about it.

Bit overweight? Get down the gym, go on a diet or have liposuction. Don’t like those wrinkles? Apply expensive creams or have a bit of botulism inserted into your face. Got a bit more body hair than you need and don’t like resembling Oddbod from Carry On Screaming? Apply some Immac or subject yourself to an assault from a bloke with a spatula and a pot of wax.

Anything you want to do, you can have done, man or woman. If you want to put so much fake tan on that you look like a human satsuma, nobody will bat an eyelid. Gastric bands, hairless hands, new thyroid glands, all acceptable. Teeth like a row of condemned houses? Two grand and you can look like Bingo from the Banana Splits.

The only thing that you can do to alter your appearance that will subject you to unwanted attention, is to be a bald man who starts wearing a hairpiece.

To apply a napper-rat to your shiny bonce is to invite ridicule from all and sundry and that just seems a tad unfair to me. Why shouldn’t a man who feels a bit self-conscious about falling victim to Male Pattern Baldness take steps to put things back as they were?

I think that the problem lies with a manly reluctance to be seen to be taking personal vanity seriously. This is a throwback to my dad’s days, when male grooming simply consisted of throwing neat Hai Karate onto a red raw face, after it had been shaved by a Bic Razor (£2.00 for a bag of 50) that was on its 100th use. Anything more elaborate was deemed repugnant and would suggest that the shaver lacked moral fibre.

Times have moved on and moisturising is now considered socially acceptable to all, but the wearing of the syrup is vanity’s last taboo. I suppose that there’s a Catch 22 at work. We only notice the bad ones. It’s possible that there are men wandering about with hair like The Fonz who are yet to be rumbled by their admiring public.

But what chance has the average wig-wearer when someone with bottomless pockets spends a fortune, yet achieves results that remind of me the last time I got bollocked by a dinner lady?

Something needs to be done about wig standards in the United Kingdom, so that men can go about their hairy headed business without fear of victimisation, or shouts of "Wiggy! Wiggy! Wiggy!" followed by that most unfair of enquiries, "Did you have to fight the dog for that this morning, mate?"

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tighter Than an Italian Waiter's Trousers

I love stingy people, (that’s people who are tight with their money, not people who would try and sting you).

At first glance, they appear to be a bit of a societal blight but there are many positives to be identified when associating with tightwads. There is great fun to be had when in their company, but they must be treated with care as they are always trying to think a couple of steps ahead of everyone else. The ‘night out’ is their hunting ground.

The thing that I have always taken most enjoyment from is that they don’t think anyone has noticed. Such are the heights of their conceit, they see themselves as modern day Moriartys, outwitting their bovine mates with their superior intellect.

No you aren’t, you miser.

Everyone knows exactly what you’re up to, but tolerates it because it’s entertaining. For any, ‘every penny’s a prisoner’ characters reading this now, know this. As soon as you’ve gone to the toilet to avoid a round or pretended to tie shoelaces on velcroed trainers, the rest of your mates will be having a great laugh at your expense, accompanied by knowing glances and ‘he’s up to his old tricks again’ rolling of the eyes.

To be the consummate Tommy Tightarse must take iron discipline.

When you or I go out for the evening, we think about a couple of things. Do I have enough money? Have I got time to take the tram into town or should I get a taxi? Despite my best intentions, will the headache generated by tonight’s activities derail my entire weekend?

Your tight mate can’t afford to think like that, lest he spend more than a tenner. Every moment of the forthcoming evening is played out in infinite detail, with the aim of parting with as little money as possible, before returning home to count their unspent loot. Each probability and permutation is weighed up and assessed before being placed in his miser’s flowchart.

Several strategies are listed below. Use them either to scrutinise your friends and filter out the skinflints or to embark on a lifetime career of having a ‘reach impediment.’

The tightwad will take all steps necessary to share transport, usually a taxi. The tightwad will never get in the front seat because the driver will assume that that is the person who will render payment. On reaching the destination, the tightwad will either pat themselves all over, as if extinguishing an imaginary fire in a fruitless search for change or will simply exit the taxi with a nebulous offer to, ‘get the first round in.’

The tightwad will never go to the bar for the first few rounds. This is planned. The initial hour or two in a pub is quite structured. People drink at a similar pace, everyone’s requirements are uniform and inebriation is yet to provide the cloud of confusion require by the tightwad. When his moment eventually arrives, the tightwad, unlike his friends, will start to perform some sort of drink triage. Instead of asking the standard question, ‘What’s everyone having’?’ the tightwad will point to individual glasses and if they are more than half full, say things like, ‘You’re okay aren’t you?’ or ‘Do you just want half?’

If a premium beer or a double is requested, the tightwad will simply amend the order to suit the pocket. The lack of discernment creeping in with drunkenness provides the perfect cloak of invisibility for sub standard ales or heavily diluted singles.

Don’t even try to defeat the tightwad at the end of the night. This is his Becher’s Brook, something he’s planned for all evening. If he’s good at what he does, he will be the furthest from his round obligations at the point at which someone says, ‘Shall we double up for last orders?’

When it’s time to leave, the tightwad will quickly identify and latch on to his most boozed up companion, the one least likely to have any memory of fiscal promises the next morning. He’ll convince this friend that it isn’t going out of his way to drop off the tightwad in Wythenshawe on his way back to Swinton. At the crucial cab departure moment, as the tightwad alights, some money will be passed, usually 3-5% of the actual fare generated.

There are myriad techniques employed by the professional tightwad. The above are just a few examples. If you’ve been affected by tightwaddery, don’t be angry. They’re only likely to cost you a tenner or so throughout the evening and you should be happy to forfeit that fee, so that you can observe their shenanigans and have a chuckle with your freespending friends, whenever the tightwad’s developed a thousand yard stare whilst trying to work out how he can get to eleven bells without breaking into that fiver.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Rude Boys (or rude people in general)

There are obvious signs that age is beginning to take its toll on me. I’ve got a good bit of grey in my sideburns. Depending on my mood when I look in the mirror, I swing between thinking, ‘George Clooney’ and ‘Wilfred Brambell.’

I still play football from time to time. As little as ten years ago, I could happily play for a couple of hours with no physical price to pay. Now, after one hour of five-a-side, I spend the next couple of days feeling like I’ve been battered with pool cues.

Whenever I make a sudden movement, ie from sitting to standing, it has to be accompanied by a running commentary of, ‘oohs’ ‘aaahhs’ and ‘Jesus Christs’. Funnily enough, despite having actively disdained Catholicism for the best part of twenty five years, I feel obliged to silently use my dad’s apology of ‘god forgive me for swearing’ whenever I take his eldest lad’s name in vain.
I could go on all day about physical decline and its demoralising effects, but I’d prefer to focus on one of the more subtle changes that I’ve noticed with the passing decades.

I’ve found myself getting angry at the sort of casual rudeness that would have been off my radar a while back. Ten years ago, if I’d have held a door open for you and you breezed through without acknowledgement, I’d have just shrugged and thought, ‘tosser.’ Not any more. The place where I work is full of people who consider themselves sufficiently high powered to have achieved a rank in society that means they can dispense with common courtesy. Only this morning I held a door open for a bloke coming through on the phone and he actually gave me a dirty look! Not just a lack of gratitude but a ‘get out of my way’ glance. I took the only action available in the circumstances and shouted, “You’re welcome!!!” loud enough to embarrass him but quiet enough to ensure I didn’t get sectioned.

Never mind cures for cancer and the unravelling of the human genome; all scientific research must be focussed on producing a machine that allows its user to travel back in time for just a few seconds so that they can withdraw their gestures of kindness. At the flick of a switch you can be transported to the moment you decided to hold the door open/let a car out/offer your place in the supermarket queue to someone with a couple of items. You can then fix them with a steely gaze and say,

“You look rude. Not in the nudge nudge, Carry On film sense either. Just plain old rude, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to let the door shut in your face”