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(Thanks to @naomimc for the title)


Embracing The Fear

I love music. Granted, if you’ve ever listened to any with me you’d think otherwise based on the number of times I announce “This is shit!”, but I do. Like a cobweb on a winter’s morning, a good song is a thing of beauty strong enough to ensnare, but yet so delicate that, if the wind were to change direction, it vanishes.

If music were a lady, I would have sent her many drunken late night texts confessing my undying devotion. But the Better Half gets those instead.

I’ve played the guitar since I was 16 and I’m surprisingly bad for somebody who has played an instrument for almost 20 years. I’ve jammed and played in a handful of bands across the decades (Best band name? Gaylord Mink and his Lonesome Cowboy Bill Band featuring Raoul), but most of my output has been drunken stabs at ‘Day Tripper’ in order to impress girls at parties.

They were never impressed.

I’ll admit that there is some regret that I never did more musically when I was younger. So my new year’s resolution is a simple one. Write a song and perform it solo in public. I am allowing myself an acoustic guitar and harmonica. I’ve been listening to the album ‘Nebraska’ a lot (There is no concept of “too much Bruce Springsteen”) and that’s all he used.

Let’s get things straight. I am under no illusions here. I am no Bruce Springsteen. And I have no dreams of rock’n’roll stardom. For one thing, I need my sleep these days.

So why am I doing this? Maybe I want to test myself. Maybe it’s the onset of a mid-life crisis. Maybe I’m just a massive show off who, deep down, wants a room full of people to stare at him. Maybe, these days, I don’t like being a passive consumer when it comes to art I like. Or something less wanky.

And why am I telling you this? Because if you tell yourself you’re going to do something you can always find ways to get out of it. If you tell a few hundred people that you’re going to do something, you’re going to have to go through with it or they’ll call you a dick.

This is so far out of my comfort zone I’m in a whole new district of terror. I’ve never written a song before. And I can’t sing. That’s an issue I’m trying to address. The only time I’ve ever sung on my own in public (or, more accurately, shouted words to a tune) has been karaoke. And “karaoke” is Japanese for “drunk arsehole attempting ‘Sweet Caroline’”.

But you’ve got to try something that scares you once in a while, haven’t you?

Hair – A Warning From History

I’m getting older. More and more, I find myself loading up Google and not remembering why. Which is the geek equivalent of walking around the kitchen wondering why you went in there in the first place.

Another sign of the encroaching hand of the Grim Reaper is my receding hairline. In my youth, I had a quite frightening amount of hair. Do you want to see it?

I should point out that these were the days of Grunge, before hair straighteners became acceptable tools for the modern man. Not that I would have used them anyway. For I was Keeping It Real.

Then I re-discovered my Punk Roots.

In fact, you can see my roots in this photograph:

My hair is extremely curly and it took all kinds of hair product in order to stop me from looking like a Shirley Temple drag act. And then I began to notice that the distance between the spikes was growing greater and greater each day.

Thus I made the sober decision that I should embrace my baldness.

I say ‘sober’. The decision actually involved a sunny afternoon, several  cans of Guinness, some clippers and my friend Dan. I’ve never looked back.

There. That’s much better, isn’t it? Relatively speaking.

In the past, I feared the barber in the same way that people fear dentists. The social awkwardness, the stilted conversation, the clumsy tipping. Everything that goes against my naturally misanthropic nature.

Now, every two weeks, I reach for the clippers and do it myself. (Though I wouldn’t advise the same solution if you fear the dentist).

To be honest, every now and again I do wonder if it’s all a little dull. Then I look at the photographs above and remember that I shouldn’t ever have been trusted with hair.

The answer?


If you want to make your head a little more interesting, just pop on a hat. There’s something for every occasion.

One of the great things about having a young daughter who insists on dressing you is that you no longer have to concern yourself with such concepts as ‘dignity’.

So if you find yourself looking in the mirror and the word ‘slaphead’ is getting louder and louder in your mind, don’t fight it. Feel it.

(This was inspired by Stephen Baxter’s ‘Going Bald Was a Revelation’)