Thursday, 29 October 2015

Movember musings

It's that time of the year, if you're considering growing one.

Movember is around the corner so I thought it would be an appropriate time for a little discourse on the handlebar moustache. Just to clarify things: this is one with long ends that point or curve outwards. "Graspable extremities" as it says in the website of the Handlebar Club.

I started growing mine two years ago, egged on by my wife, when we walked past a shop in Venice which had a tin of moustache wax in the window. Should you wish to do the same (and what better time to experiment?) there's lots of advice online, but essentially you need to let it grow, and resist the temptation to trim it. Some people trim the section above the lip and leave the ends to grow out, and I tried this for a bit but decided it was not for me.

When it's long enough you can comb it away from the midline, using wax to keep it in place, then twizzle the ends to form a point. Get it into the desired position, hold it there for a while, then leave it. To impart a curl (if your hair is naturally straight), shape it with your fingers, form it around a pencil or chopstick, or just fold and roll it between finger and thumb.

Moustache wax is generally made from petroleum jelly or beeswax. Petroleum based products are softer and don't work for me because my hair is coarse and stiff, and needs something that will hold it in place. Beeswax sets more firmly and is more likely to hold the thing in place. The trick in making these products is that they need to be soft enough to apply, and than set firm enough to hold things in place. Here are some I've used:

The first tin on the left with the blue label, by Taylor's, is the first one I acquired. Based on petroleum jelly, it has hardly any hold and doesn't really work for me, but might suit others with finer hair. The other two are made from beeswax. The one in the middle by Murdock is malleable out of the jar, but sets firmly, and works well for me. Mr Natty's product is harder, but comes in a small tin that is handy to carry around, and is a bit softer when warmed up in one's trouser pocket.

In general, I suppose most people prefer to avoid this effect:

Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu, 1965

You might think that with modern grooming products, accessories like this might no longer be required:

But in fact, they're still on the market:

(If you're interested, you can get one here)

Does my moustache interfere with eating? Not particularly, but it can get caught up in my peanut butter on toast in the morning. Of course things might be different if one were equipped like Gaishi Nagaoka, with his 70 cm "propeller moustache".

Mr Nagaoka might well have drunk his tea from a moustache cup (which, should you wish to purchase one, can be obtained from eBay). The moustache cup includes a guard to prevent your pride and joy from getting soggy, and was apparently invented in the 1860s by an English potter, Harvey Adam.

There are also moustache spoons for drinking your soup.

These days you can also get the whisker dam, a hipster accessory that clips on to your beer mug, just in case you wish to spare your IPA from the characteristic patchouli reek of your chosen pomade:

Be warned--you may start to grow your Hoxton Twizzler as a bit of fun and even as a way of raising money for prostate cancer (the charitable motivation behind Movember, lest we forget). But it will very soon take over much of your free time, cause you to purchase more grooming products than you'd care to admit to owning, and even earn you abuse such as shouts of, "Preening ninny!", delivered by your nearest and dearest as you joust for mirror space in the morning rush. Take it from one who knows: a mo is for life, not just for Movember.

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