Monday 29 May 2023


Apparently there's an increasing trend to remove body hair as hairlessness becomes more desirable - in men as well as women. I've never had the urge myself, but then I don't have much body hair anyway. If I was one of those men with rampant body hair I might very well be keen to lose some of it.

Shiyan Zering, a beauty analyst, says young men in particular are opting to remove their body hair. She reveals that 49% of 16 to 24 year old men remove underarm hair and 62% pubic hair.

That's an extraordinary shift from my younger days when teenage boys never had any desire to get rid of their body hair. Why so many of them now see the need isn't clear. Is it to please their girlfriends (or boyfriends)? Is it because they find body hair unattractive?

A few years back I did get laser treatment on my facial stubble, which was profuse. I found it embarrassing because I'd have five o'clock shadow by lunchtime, as if I'd forgotten to shave. I didn't get rid of my stubble completely but it's now much lighter than it was.

I recall one of my blogmates from many years ago saying she liked her husband to be without body hair as she found hairless skin more attractive. She said "If I could make my husband wax or shave from the crotch on up, I would. But he doesn't want to."

I must say I'm so used to seeing images of immaculately-depilated women with super-smooth arms and legs that if women suddenly decided to stay hairy it would be quite a shock. I know many women are so used to purging their body hair that they simply can't bring themselves to leave it intact. But it must be a tedious and costly business removing it all.

Thursday 25 May 2023

My whole life

At the age of 76, I've now known every stage of human existence, from childhood to old age, so I have a total life experience. I know what it's like to be a child, to be middle aged, and to be nearing the end of my life. No longer do I have a vast and unknown sweep of life ahead of me, but I've got the whole picture.

I know what it's like to be a child, fitting in with my parents' beliefs and prohibitions, largely innocent of adulthood and its horrors and liabilities, free to enjoy my childhood games and obsessions without having to think about bills or mortgages or roof repairs.

I've met the challenges of middle age, when you're constantly exhausted by the demands of full-time work, household maintenance, looking after elderly parents, and maybe raising several children. You're rushing from one task to another with little time to explore your own needs and desires.

And now I'm in the throes of old age, adjusting to all the minor dysfunctions of my ancient body, hoping I'll have enough money for however long I'm alive, hoping I won't develop dementia and become a useless vegetable (but also knowing the joys of retirement and not being in thrall to some vicious boss).

In particular, it's great being able to look back at my entire life, knowing exactly what happened to me and what I did with whatever opportunities arose. I know my life has been a success and not some string of disasters and miscalculations. When I was living on my own in the 1970s, I was rather pessimistic about the future, and had no idea things would work out so well.

The once unknown future has revealed itself.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Cynicism be gone

One of the challenges of old age is not to be overwhelmed by cynicism, not to be jaundiced by all my knowledge of life's tricks and dodges but to still be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and optimistic about what the future might bring.

There are too many oldies who sink into unrelenting scepticism, scoffing at everything in sight and refusing to believe anyone could be honest or decent or well-meaning.

Yes, I'm aware of all the corrupt politicians, profiteering businesses, bullying bosses and foot-dragging bureaucrats, but I don't allow them to poison my general view of life or my attitudes to other people.

I've had a few periods of acute cynicism over the years, which didn't do me any good but only spoiled my enjoyment of life and turned me into a miserable sod.

Cynicism is apparently bad for your health too. A research study in 2014 found that people with high levels of cynical distrust were three times more likely to develop dementia than people with low levels of cynicism.

It strikes me that cynicism is closely related to misanthropy - disliking human beings and avoiding human society. But I'm not misanthropic. I don't (in general) hate human beings, I just find the behaviour of some of them baffling and peculiar. I certainly wouldn't actively shun human company, that seems a rather eccentric thing to do.

One thing that feeds cynicism is that unpleasant experiences stick in the memory more vividly than pleasant ones. I'll remember someone who shouted abuse at the bus driver but I won't remember the person who gave up their seat to an unsteady oldie. From there it's easy to generalise quite wrongly about how nasty people are.

Cynicism, be gone. I have no use for you.

Wednesday 17 May 2023


A woman has admitted to agony aunt Philippa Perry that she finds her obese father "disgusting" and hates being around him. She says "How do I get through to him that he needs to address his weight?"

I have to admit that I'm mildly "fatphobic" myself, even though I know very well that a person's weight is often beyond their control because of medicines they're taking, or their genetics, or a hormonal aberration, or addictive food.

I like to think that all you need do to stay thin is to have a bit of self-control and not to eat too much, but of course it's not that simple.

Philippa Perry scolds the woman in question for being fatphobic and lacking compassion and empathy. She points out that 64% of the population are classed as overweight and that 64% is full of wonderful, funny, intelligent and kind people. She rejects the out-of-date idea that they're weak-willed gluttons.

Nevertheless I confess that as a thin person I sometimes find it hard to see past someone's size and focus on their personality. Very prejudiced of me I know but it's hard to shake off such an engrained habit.

I guess my mother had something to do with it, as she was herself rather fatphobic and would always make whispered remarks to me about someone's size.

I like to think that when I was growing up most people were thin, which proves that people can be thin if they really want to be. But my erratic memory is probably deceiving me once again.

Okay, I plead guilty, I'm not as right-on as I think I am.

Pic: Beth Ditto

Saturday 13 May 2023

Tipping point

According to one newspaper article, companies in the States are getting quite aggressive about urging customers to leave generous tips - even in self-checkout situations where no staff are needed, and in situations where tips haven't previously been the norm.

In the UK there's no similar pressure by companies to give tips, and it's still very much up to the individual whether they tip or not.

Jenny and I usually give tips to cabbies, restaurant staff, hairdressers, housekeeping staff in hotels, and sometimes to coffee shop staff. We don't refuse to give a tip unless we've had very bad service or a very bad experience of some kind.

We know that most of the people we give tips to are likely to be financially stretched and probably rely on tips to make ends meet. They may very well be getting no more than the legal minimum wage for working in tough conditions for long hours.

Of course they should be earning a decent wage that lets them be free of money worries, but the reality is that they're not getting a decent wage and probably never will be.

An interesting tip situation arose on our recent trip to Edinburgh. The hotel had a policy of not servicing rooms unless the guest asked for it, presumably to reduce the number of staff needed and reduce the amount of laundry.

That was fine by us, except that we only had our room serviced once so that leaving a tip for that one day seemed excessive and we didn't leave one. Unfortunately if other guests thought the same then the housekeeping staff's income from tips must have been drastically reduced. Did the hotel raise their wages accordingly to compensate? Somehow I doubt it.

Friday 5 May 2023

A small penalty

One of the small penalties (if that's the right word) of having a big and fully furnished house is that you have to constantly resist the temptation to buy more bits and pieces, however beautiful or sentimental or nostalgic they may be.

Yes, I know, first world problem and all that, some people don't even own a tent let alone a house, but nevertheless for us possession-laden oldies it's a very real dilemma.

Jenny and I look in a shop window and see a lovely jug or vase or bowl or ornament that would look great in our living room or kitchen or bedroom, and we have to steel ourselves to simply admire it and then regretfully pass by. It's either that or we end up with a house full of clutter and increasing buyer's remorse - blaming ourselves for not being more disciplined.

It makes me realise how people can accumulate so many possessions that the huge surplus has to be stored in a garage, or the attic, or a storage facility - or all three. Temptation is impossible to resist and those impulsive purchases keep piling up.

Jenny's dad was keen on blue and white pottery. It was on display all over the house on shelves and mantelpieces and dressers. There wasn't quite enough to cause a serious storage problem but it was getting that way.

It's strange thinking back to my days in a one-room bedsit, when I had hardly any possessions, a far cry from a house full. There was barely enough room for a few clothes and books and a small amount of food. There was no way I could be tempted into buying anything I absolutely didn't need.


This is bizarre. Blogger has deleted two of my old posts for "violating our illegal activities policy". As they don't explain why the posts are illegal, and the posts themselves have been deleted, I have no idea what they're referring to. Update 13 May: I asked Blogger to review their deletions and they instantly reinstated the posts. I still have no idea why they were deleted in the first place!

Monday 1 May 2023

In the nude

What is it about nude statues that gets people so worked up? Time after time nude statues are declared to be obscene and have to be covered up or removed. What causes this absurd over-reaction?

The latest statue to incur vigorous protests is the statue of a mermaid at Monopoli in South East Italy. It's said to be unrealistic, with large breasts and a large bottom.

Adolfo Marciano, head teacher at the Luigi Rosso art school, whose students created the sculpture, said "The mermaid is like a tribute to the great majority of women who are curvy, especially in our country. It would have been very bad if we had represented a woman who was extremely skinny."

Anyway, who says a statue has to be "realistic"? The whole point of art surely is that artists can express themselves however they want. If art always had to be realistic, an awful lots of famous sculptures and paintings would have to be scrapped.

But this sort of controversy over an art work is a regular occurrence. The head teacher of a Florida school was forced to resign in March after parents complained they weren't told that lessons would feature Michelangelo's David, which one of them said was pornographic.

In 2002 the US Justice Department was reported to have spent thousands of dollars on curtains to hide a number of nude statues from photo ops. Three years later they changed their mind and removed the curtains.

So what is it about a nude artwork that gets people so steamed up? It's simply a depiction of the human body and all its physical features. Why do they find the human body so embarrassing? Have they never seen one before?

Pic: the controversial statue