Hairy lips, healthy balls

You know who else liked moustaches? I’ll tell you. Hitler. Stalin. Saddam. Gaddafi. Mussolini. That’s who. And here we are, being bullied into growing fanny dusters fit only for tyrants. Movember my ass. Having us walk around with moustaches for a month isn’t going to raise awareness of men’s health. All it will do is make women ridicule us even more than usual.

You mightn’t be so quick to put out a welcome mat on the doorstep of Casa Nostrils if it wasn’t called a moustache, a word that has the ring of the usual French nonsense about it. But what if you lived in Germany, where a moustache is called a schnorrbart? Would you want to be associated with Schnorrvember? Or, if you’re in Iceland, Yfirvaraskeggvember? Never mind if you’re from Slovenia. Those poor bastards would have to celebrate Brkivember. The idea of three vowels in one word is enough to drive your average Slove to suicide.

Normal people like me and perhaps you are not going to be pressured into cultivating a nasty habit that could well affect our political leanings and, indeed, our very sexuality. If Freddie Mercury had kept his top lip clean, he’d be living as Farrokh Bulsara in a trailer park in downtown Orlando today with a wife called Blanche and three gifted but disturbed children.

Having said that, it’s interesting to note that gay bikers and heterosexual farmers alike are huge fans of the mouth brow. And yet if you had to walk into a bar and ask a biker if he’s a farmer or a farmer if he’s a bottie-bandit, you’d probably get your face broken.

I don’t have a moustache because, in my line of work, it’s important to be trusted. People need to believe that what I write is the truth. If I am to be taken seriously, my upper lip needs to be dusted with nothing more than anxious beads of sweat. Unfortunately, and I don’t claim to know how this came about, men with moustaches cannot be trusted. I might lie through my teeth, but at least I don’t lie through my moustache as well.

Don’t get me wrong. My face doesn’t always resemble a finely buffed piece of Carrara marble. If anyone ever makes a movie called Unshorn of the Dead, I’m their guy. Fact is, men who live alone tend to let themselves go from time to time. Especially those who make their living within the confines of their own home. Not that you can call this a living. Or even a home.

This means my entire head is covered in fur for at least three weeks of the month. Not thick, coarse clumps of it. I’m not Chewbacca. Once there is a beard involved, though, the moustache ceases to be a moustache. It simply becomes part of a general facial flocculence that has been the defining feature of many of history’s lovable rogues ranging from Santa Claus to Charles Manson, from Jesus Christ to George Washington.

I dislike my hairy face, but I like shaving even less. By week four I will catch sight of myself in a shop window and recoil. That’s when I buy a case of beer on a Friday night, turn up the music and have a one-man shaving party. Pathetic doesn’t come close.

But what really gets my goat, apart from the stock thief in number nine, is that we allow these shadowy organisations to influence our decisions based on nebulous notions such as men’s health. I’m not even sure such a thing exists. Obviously I’m talking from first-hand experience here.

I’m reluctant to do this because I don’t get paid enough to involve myself in research, but apparently the idea of Movember originated in a bar in Adelaide in 1999. What a surprise. A bunch of Aussies off their faces decided that everyone should grow a moustache in November. Even the women, presumably, what with Australia being such an egalitarian society.

“What if they don’t do it, Bruce?”

“Well, mate, we’ll cut off their goolies.”

“And roger all the Sheilas!”

A stray dingo must have walked in at some point because the members of the freshly formed Movember Committee decided they’d sell T-shirts and give the money to animal welfare.

Being Adelaide, there was no real rush to get things moving. The committee passed motions, water and out. The dingo eventually ate the treasurer and, in turn, was taken to the kitchen and converted into bar snacks. Such are the laws of nature.

Five years went by and Movember, much like the committee, was still struggling to get to its feet. Meanwhile, a far sharper group of spritzer-drinking Aussies got together in Melbourne and started their own moustache-based event. Being more cunning and almost certainly more sober than the Adelaide mob, they linked theirs to a campaign to raise awareness for prostate cancer and depression in men.

“But, honey, what about the …”

“Shut up. Your lot doesn’t have a prostate.”

“I am depressed, though.”

“Of course you are. You don’t have a bloody prostate.”

So these new blokes formed the Movember Foundation which spread quicker than typhoid. More than $174-million has been raised around the world since then. I don’t know where it’s gone. I like to think some went to shelters for women traumatised by having to kiss men with moustaches.

In 2010, Movember merged with a testicular cancer event called Touchback. Quite frankly, I find the connotations of reciprocity disturbing. I don’t mind checking my own landing gear, but that’s where it ends.

Few South African men suffer from intellectualism and we should perhaps point out to the common herd that growing a moustache in November does not constitute adequate protection against prostate cancer.

Nor will the general health of men magically improve by a mass sprouting of soup strainers, no matter what the witches and warlocks of Limpopo province say. We might, however, be healthier if we didn’t have to work so damn hard. When I say we, I mean men who aren’t me. Men are becoming increasingly stressed by roadblocks and paternity tests. We get depressed by speed limits and flea markets. So let’s tackle the real issues first.

Movember’s main man in South Africa, Garron Gsell, if that’s his real name, says there’s a stigma around diseases that affect men, impacting on early detection and life expectancy. Never mind the bollocks. There’s a stigma around men, period. And early detection of a doomed marriage can also greatly improve life expectancy.

Gsell says the underlying message of this year’s theme is that “if you choose to live well and follow a healthy lifestyle … you can help shape your future”. In other news, if you wear shoes you can avoid getting thorns in your feet. Also, using an umbrella in the rain can help you stay dry. And not drinking a bottle of brandy for breakfast is good for you.

Finally, let us not forget that the biggest cause of depression among men is an inability to grow a moustache in November. Mo-shaming is a real thing. So if you do come across someone without a moustache, try to restrain yourself from smashing a beer glass into his face. He might not be a contumacious misanthropic iconoclast at all. He might, for instance, be unable to grow a moustache because he’s had radiotherapy to treat testicular cancer.


The Fear Factor

Comrades, we have new things to fear.

Russia provoking world war three. The Oscar Pistorius trial dragging on for months. Protein.

Let us begin with the first. It’s the least likely to affect us directly because South Africa won’t be invited to participate in the third world war. We never get invited to anything. And when we do, we don’t pitch up. Besides, by the time we have fixed our submarines and found someone to drive our warships, a consortium of American businessmen would have turned Crimea into the world’s biggest theme park. And McDonald’s would have bought the Kremlin and turned it into their new eastern European headquarters.

The other scenario is that American schools would be teaching Russian and the White House would be owned by the Stolichnaya company. Leased, I should say. There would be no such thing as private property in the event of a Russian win when the final whistle is blown at the end of WW3.

Even though Vladimir Putin is currently channelling the ghost of Josef Stalin, I’m finding it difficult to worry about what’s happening 9 419kms away. I know I should. But it seems wrong to care about people in the Ukraine when there are people in a township 3kms from my house who I don’t care about. If I’m not going to care about someone, my fellow countrymen should come first.

I’m a bit concerned about Crimea, but only because it’s a really cool name and whoever wins this war will probably want to change it. I doubt I would feel the same way about it if it were called, say, the Autonomous Okrug of Krasnovorskashtanerova. Or, should there be an upset, Californiobama, America’s 51st state.

Wait! I’ve changed my mind. It has since come to my attention that Crimea’s currency is called the hryvna. There is no way that a country with a currency called hryvna should be allowed to survive. Was their first finance minister a five-year-old with access to fridge magnets? It gets worse. The hryvna is made up of a hundred kopiyok. And they want us to take them seriously? Please.

Right, I’ve had a few beers and a bit of a lie-down. Maybe they deserve a second chance. Let’s see what they produce. This is what I found on the website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The enterprises of Crimean food industry produce meat products, animal butter, dairy products, cheeses, oil, can foods, confectionary, groats and flour, alcoholic beverage, tobacco wares.”

I don’t know if you’re meant to eat, drink or snort a groat, but I want no part of it. And what the hell kind of animals do you make butter from? Mmmm. Creamy Crimean butter produced from only the freshest of field voles. With added epizooties! Yum yum.

We are assured, however, that “the tourist industry is very perspective”. Visitors can look forward to “mounting-foot, research, walks on yachts and car tours”. The cultural life of the Crimea consists of their many festivals and competitions, including Bilya Chornogo Morya, Zirky Planety and Artekivski Zori.

“Hurry up, honey! We’re going to be late for the Zirky Planety.”

“I thought we were going to the Artekivski Zori this year!”

“The Zori is too expensive. I’m not paying five billion hryvna to watch dancing voles being turned into butter.”

Let us now turn our attention to the second latest thing to fear – the unnecessary prolongation of Oscar Pistorius’s trial. Defence lawyer Barry Roux is so adept at badgering witnesses that I have come to believe that he is, in fact, a badger wearing a human bodysuit. There is evidence.

Badgers are short-legged omnivores. Roux is a short-legged omnibore. Badgers belong to a branch that includes polecats and weasels. Roux belongs to a branch that includes advocates and attorneys. Both are distantly related to the Asiatic stink badger, a member of the skunk family, which is often found defending Crimean voles on charges of treason.

I, for one, cannot listen, let alone watch, the Badgeroo go about his unpleasant business of forcing ordinary folk to the brink of confessing their own dark secrets. The biggest mistake these poor people ever made was to live within screaming distance of Oscar’s house. Now they are paying for it.

This case sends a valuable lesson to potential witnesses everywhere. Do not ever admit to hearing or seeing anything. Ever. I live at the coast and even I was woken by Oscar’s shrill girly screams. I heard his cricket bat spontaneously detonating three minutes later. I also thought I heard him ordering pizza but that might have been the neighbours. But did you see me put my hand up and volunteer to testify? Hellz, no.

Where there are cameras, there are politicians. Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane sat with Reeva’s family in court this week and told them that “even real South African men are ashamed”. Am I real South African man? I hope not. Am I ashamed? Yes, I am.

When I was but a pup, my father grabbed his Walther PPK pistol one Saturday morning and took me down to the mangroves near Blue Lagoon. I thought he was going to murder me. Instead, he set up a row of empty Black Label beer cans. Well, they were empty by the time he had finished with them. Then he put the gun in my hand and said, “Son, shoot those cans.” If that was some kind of rite of passage, I failed miserably. “Go a bit closer,” he said every time I missed. Eventually I had the barrel of the gun resting against one of the cans. It was like an execution.

So, yes. I’m ashamed that I can’t shoot accurately with a handgun. But put an R1 rifle in my hands and oh, baby, I could hit you if you lived in the next province. That should go some way towards redeeming me in the eyes of the premier, surely.

Now on to the third latest new thing to fear. Protein. Meat, in case you haven’t heard, is the new Marlboro. Cheese is a death sentence and eggs will kill you quicker than heroin. That glass of milk? Why not just drink cyanide?

We have been eating protein ever since we split from the monkeys two million years ago. And only now they tell us it’s bad for us? What the hell have they been doing all this time?

But not all protein is bad, apparently. The protein in beans and legumes is fine. Okaaay! Bean party this Saturday, your place! Bring your own beans. If someone pitches up with a bag of legumes saying that he wants to party, don’t let him in. Those legume fiends are nothing but trouble.

This new study reveals that middle-aged people who eat a lot of animal protein die younger. But the same diet protects a person’s health in old age. Man, my 70th is going to be one helluva cheese ‘n meat party. Bring your own sheep.

These findings have emerged from a study of six thousand people aged 50 and over. I don’t know anyone over 50 who tells the truth. Once you reach a certain age, lying becomes your default position. Most of them probably just wanted someone to talk to.

“Yeah, I eat a lot of meat and I have this thing growing inside my brain. So what? Sit down. Let me tell you about the time I caught a whale shark on a trout rod in the Drakensberg.”

I don’t know what to believe anymore. I’m scared of carbohydrates and now I’m terrified of protein. These scaremongering killjoys are telling us that we should restrict ourselves to no more than 0.8g of protein for every kilogram of body weight. Well, let me tell you something, Mr Smartypants scientist. We don’t all have brains that work like computers. We don’t know what we weigh. We also don’t know what 0.8g of anything looks like. Apart from maybe cocaine or weed. Rather tell us that if we hold a piece of meat against our leg, we shouldn’t eat beyond the knee.

And it’s no good telling us that we need to switch to a diet where nine or ten percent of our calories come from protein. Calories sounds like a made-up Crimean word. I cannot picture a calorie and therefore it does not exist. Stop playing mind-games with us.

You know what else they said? “Spend a couple of months looking at the labels on your food.” Idiots. Do they not know we also have to go to work? Besides, the human body cannot go more than 40 days without food. You have more chance of surviving by licking at the labels on your food.

There’s only one thing I want to know. What can I eat that will help me live forever? There has to be something, right? Look at Robert Mugabe. He’s at least 184 years old and he still won’t go down. I want some of what he’s having. Fuck death. And if I can’t have that, I’m moving to Simferopol and switching to a diet of Slavic whores, cheap vodka and lashings of vole butter pudding.