So it's November already. November, nestled between Ocsober and Febfast; a month of fast horses, bitter wind and driving rain. And a month when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of top lip topiary. Yup, its Movember time again.
For those of you who don't know, Movember is a month-long, global charity initiative intended to raise awareness and money for men's health issues, especially prostate cancer and male depression. Men spend the month growing moustaches and getting sponsorship for it for the above good causes. Apparently it's the largest non-government funder of prostate cancer research. Millions of men around the world are expected to take part this month and, if we can get a little parochial here, it all began, eight years ago, in Melbourne.
William Leith in The Guardian noted that more than 70,000 men in the UK are growing moustaches, adding: "Men are making themselves look silly - of course, in some cases they look fine, or even cool, but this is rare - in order to help other men who have fallen ill. But it's not just men who are ill - it's men who are ill in that embarrassing area that makes men so vulnerable. It's that illness that men, who famously won't go to the doctor, won't go to the doctor about. And then, when they do, it might be too late."
So it's in a very good cause and could be fun but will you be joining in? I'm not sure if I will be. Moustaches are, after all pretty vile. And they don't turn you instantaneously into Errol Flynn or Dennis Hopper. Or Magnum, PI.
I noticed an advert on TV the other night. For car insurance for the over-50s. And all the senior gentlemen, to a man, sported a 'tache. Moustaches were cool in the Seventies - think DK Lillee, Max Walker, the Chappells, but now? I'm not convinced. This time last year, perhaps in an attempt to emulate the stars of yesteryear, Mitchell Johnson and some of the other Australian cricket team were sporting Movember moustaches. It's a shame their cricket didn't live up to their facial hair. Moustaches seem to be a signifier of a past era, an easy handle(bar) for dumb advertising execs or sub-par cricketers.
A week or two ago a distant cousin came round with some pictures he'd found of my great and great-great grandparents at a family gathering. All these men sported moustaches. Thick, bushy moustaches. I look at photos like that and imagine myself there and - the language barrier notwithstanding - I would find it hard to talk to them without laughing. Especially to the one who seemed my spitting image but with a comedy, stick-on 'tache. Looking at the photos I found it hard to feel any kinship with these dead men, to connect with them in any way - their moustaches got in the way. They set up a hairy barrier that makes a man seem not just from another age, but older, sterner and harsher.
They tickle too, I'm told.
In the dollar shop the other day I picked up a novelty set of stick-on moustaches - you could choose from the Casanova (black, pencilly), the Scoundrel (grey, with waxed tips), the Rogue (ginger, shortish) or the Partyboy (slender and dark). So I might be giving them a go, but grow a moustache myself? I know it's in a better than good cause, but I can't see it. I'm certainly happy to be a sponsor of the brave, though.
Will you be growing a moustache this Movember? And what style will you choose - the Zapata, the handlebar, or the biker? Or do you find them all a complete turn-off?