part of the ongoing “a blog post a day” project, Grouchy Grammarians beware, I have not time to proofread. I await your corrections.
Last night, I contemplated my baldness under the harsh lights of the dressing room. A few lonely follicles, the survivors of a genetic apocalypse, mark out where my hairline once stood. And it did stand, I had a quiff that could have offered shade to families on a beach.
It is rare I am bothered by my hair loss, it was unlikely that I would dodge the shiny pate bullet that was displayed on the mantelpiece photos of pipe smoking monochrome male relatives. My looks have not been my career, a weave is not required. I am finding it difficult enough having a manufactured tooth over the nervy, stump remains of a collapsed molar, a wig, weave or cricketer’s hair plugs would force me to disassociate myself from my own scalp. The problem is more my wife’s than mine, she will have to occasionally walk around with a bald man, and I don’t think she foresaw that twenty years ago when she saw me with a hairdryer and lacquer. It is a pity that hats don’t suit me.
Why is hair so important. How often do we see a bald man in a lead mainstream film role despite the fact that many clearly are in reality? Sean Connery was out and bald when not on the film set, yet still he had to rug up whether he was a Russian sub commander or Doctor in Africa, that time they even gave him a wig with a ponytail.
Just as breast implants are part of the natural unnatural way of things now, the weave and plug is warmly embraced by stand up comedians, authors, actors and raconteurs. i find it hard to trust a stand up, especially if they are one of those “edgy” ones, if they are also disguising their skull skin with nylon strands or orphan hair or whatever it may be. I think i would have read more Anthony Burgess books if he hadn’t had that ghastly combover.
Why do we shy away from the aging process? I have aged badly. I am wrinkled and grey but I am healthy. This is what I am, a human being progressing through years and physically changing, we should get used to such things.
Perhaps the horror of aging may be lessened if we saw more old people in films who were just old, agile of mind, but not daubed and dyed, not 67 years old men doing action flicks and pretending they have drunk from a fountain of youth only available in the Beverly Wilshire hotel. If we are lucky, we will all become old one day, we should not see that as an alien thing. Maybe that is why it is so easy to patronise the old, to infantilize them, to start talking down to them and smiling sweetly as if they are no longer part of an adult world. They have gone beyond that, pop a rug on them and offer them cocoa and a biscuit.
There was an elderly couple on yesterday’s train. They had the informality and ease with each other that suggested decades of love. She was talking about Peter Higgs as he read his Dirk Bogarde book. Then she brought up Banksy. “Ahhhh”, I thought, “they are talking of graffiti artists, how charming” and then I thought, “of course they bloody are and why do I think that is idiosyncratic. Why should being in your 80s relegate you to costume dramas and tutting about the ways of youth and protest. I think of the marches I’ve been on and seen the broadest of age ranges, the conversations I’ve had with people brought up as Marxists on pre-war estates, the engagement with changing culture that can shame some of the younger generations of now glam-less rockers, or mohican-lite punks or second summer of lovers who lost their love in a messy divorce case.
There is a generation or two that is strewn with polymaths, brought up to engage with politics, history, science, art and sculpture, is it the generations since that can be in danger of being more insular and unimaginative in their focus? I hope not, for there is no reason to be. We have much to learn and can be guided by people who’ll throw that rug right back at you and say, “let me tell you about the Aldermarston marches.”
Whenever I see headlines about celebrities “growing old disgracefully”, I shiver a little. “57 year old TV celeb shows he/she’s still got it with a brand new tattoo”. Nothing screams more of “arghhh I am not old I am not old, I will not be old, let me play young forever” than a sudden tattoo or nipple piercing. If they want to “grow old disgracefully”, then let’s see a little bit of insurrection next time a politician in comfy on their Daytime chat show sofa or phone in show. Let’s the disgrace of a furious, hungry mind not beaten into shape by consumer demands and the toxic properties of their tooth whitener. There is no escape from aging, but there are ways of eluding banality, but that takes more of what is within than a preened and sucked exterior.
I am touring with my Darwin/Feynman show – Manchester, Cranleigh, Braintree, Colchester soon, plus shows with Josie Long and Grace Petrie see HERE
Cosmic Genome has had a regular update, now with added Jim Al-Khalili, Josie Long, Mark Miodownik and 68 more HERE