Mrs L. And I have now been living in New Zealand for a little over 12 years, and it is a fantastic place. It is a country blessed with stunning scenery, fascinating wildlife, and wonderful and beautiful people. Although it is a very long way from our families, we have been very fortunate to have had guests to stay from both sides of our family, and by far our most frequent visitors are my parents-in-law. Since their retirement, they have become enthusiastic ornithologists, and so trips to New Zealand have provided them with ample opportunity to see some bird species which cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Such is their delight in our little feathered friends, that my father-in-law has become an expert on New Zealand avians ( I know this because he keeps on telling me he is), and has given several presentations to groups in England about bird life here.However, one of my in laws major complaints about New Zealand (it’s certainly in their top 10), is that whilst there are some fascinating birds, there really isn’t that many of them. To be quite honest, the same can be said of the number of people living in Aotearoa. There are less than 5 million of us the majority of whom live in Auckland.
There is a sort of theory which implies that there are 6 degrees of separation between every living person on the planet. I have heard it said that in New Zealand it’s only 2, (although I would suggest that 3 is more likely). In short everyone you meet seems to know someone else you know.
In many ways this is fantastic, but in some others, not so much. If, as in my situation, you were trying to disappear as anonymously as possible, because of a horrendously embarrassing episode you’d experienced, you’d always be worried that someone would recognize you. I really can’t see how witness protection would work here, but that’s by the by. As I am unable to afford expensive cosmetic surgery, I decided to put into action one of my life long dreams.
Unfortunately, it has been my experience, that having 4 children is a little like living in a Marxist society; everyone is treated largely equally (some more equally than others), but I’ve been robbed of my ambition. These days, I don’t have a bucket list, because I don’t know where I put the bucket, and nor can I be bothered to find it! So it has come as tremendous surprise to me that I have found something to tick off that list, and even better, it takes no effort at all, and costs nothing. Or at least that’s what I thought.
I had often admired hirsute men like Brian Blessed, and Billy Gibbons, and have had some sort of facial hair or other since I was able to grow any (since I was about 30). Unfortunately due to my hair colour, for the first 3 or 4 weeks of growing any sort of beard, I tend to look like a slightly out of focus photograph; it’s only after that, that my luxuriant ginger bristles really become visible. As anyone who has tried to grow a beard will tell you, it is usually at about this point that it becomes pretty itchy, and so I’d usually get rid of it.
Now, I’m not someone who considers themselves especially fashionable, and I certainly don’t have a strict “skin-regime”, so can’t describe myself as a metro-sexual (in all honesty the only vaguely similar category I’d fall into would , is a retro-sexual; someone who used to have sex (thanks kids!)). From my research on a number of beard blogs (yes such things exist), regular maintenance of your facial hair is not only desirable but, considered necessary. I’ve discovered that the first step is to shampoo and condition your beard, daily. This not only makes one’s facial hair soft to the touch, but also provides the skin beneath with a well needed clean, getting rid of any itchiness! Although this is the thin end of the wedge, even this seems a lot like hard work, and kind of contradictory too. I mean, I can’t imagine that Ned Kelly, Mr T. or Ernest Hemmingway, went in for a regular wash and brush of their whiskers. The whole point of having a beard is to look manly, yet smelling like “a delicate fusion of jojoba beans, orchid extracts, coconut and other tropical fruits,” really isn’t, I wouldn’t say, massively masculine.
As you might have gathered, things were about to get more complex. You see, whilst going through the blogs I’d previously mentioned, I discovered that one needs a beard brush. Just as a side note there are hilarious videos online with very earnest hipster types espousing the virtues of boars hair vs all manner of other bristles on your dedicated grooming instrument, while using terms like “aggressive downward strokes”. They are a scream, but I digress.
Given that these cost a small fortune. I bought myself a nit comb and that seems to do a pretty job, and fits handily into my pocket so I can whip it out anytime I’m looking a little more like a vagrant than I’d prefer. The list of required items doesn’t stop here though. If you want a good beard, it is essential that it is doused several times a week with beard oil, and it is also necessary to invest in some beard balm.
It reminds me a little of when we were expecting Fraboo; at the time a national chain of baby shops were providing a list of “Necessary items for parents-to-be”, all of which the shop could conveniently supply. I’m ashamed to say that there were several items on this list which we didn’t buy, as we are clearly terrible parents. There were also a number of items I wish we hadn’t bought, because they are patently not absolutely critical to the safety, and wellbeing of my child, as the shop had implied. At least most decent quality beard oils and balms contain essential oils, (although I rather suspect that these are the only essential thing about them).
All of my hard work, has finally paid off though, as I have been asked by Mousey’s playgroup to be Father Christmas (none of this Santa Claus malarkey) for their Christmas party. This really is a dream come true for me as I love Christmas and all of the associated festivities, and one of my favourites really is the jolly fat man. As I established in my last post, I am a jolly fat man and love to share happiness and joy wherever, whenever and however I can. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that Father Christmas is my spirit animal (him and Daddy Pig).
I really don’t know who is going to be more excited; me, the kids at play group, or the good folk at the Furry Face Factory when they receive my order!