Mid-Life Meltdowns and Mentors

Man on the Edge of – the Male Menopause

Slightly more, er, personal one this time.

The wife is away again, but on her brief visit home, she announced something very troubling – she is intending to grow her grey hair out and go natural.  Now I’ve got into trouble over this one before (see previous post), but the absolute FACT is that women just look older when they let themselves go grey (i.e. let themselves go), whereas some men look handsomer, wiser, hotter when they have some silver/grey/white.

I’m not keen on her doing it – I’m hoping she will see how bad it looks and get herself back to Toni and Guy asap.  In my mind, I’ll end up with this for a wife…

<> at 10 Downing Street on December 8, 2011 in London, England.
The Mayflower

Or worse, this!

The Beard (more about beards in the next blog)

The trouble is, I’ve been finding an increasingly plentiful sprouting of greys in my beard.  I actually always thought I’d be alright with it, but I’m not.

So when she left, I did something a bit silly.  Something I now regret.

I dyed it.

Now before you berate me for being a twat, in my defence, I did use proper man-beard dye.

Do NOT trust this stuff!

The problem is, it didn’t turn out to be quite the shade I needed.  In fact, I can’t imagine who this shade would have suited.  I mean, who has natural burgundy hair? No one, that’s who!  And now I have a burgundy beard! Burgundy!

Thank god it’s not permanent.

Feeling a bit stupid, I Googled ‘dyed beards’ and with much relief I now know it’s a thing.  There are men out there that do it deliberately – wtabf?!

Mine looks a bit like this, but redder. Think 70s bathroom suite – no, not the olive green one. The burgundy one. That.

Green Beards download download (1)

I came across this baffling article in Men’s Health link to article about different categories of men who have beards.  Christ knows which one the man that wrote it would think I was, but I am most certainly not ‘Overzealous Beard Guy’!  The reason my beard is burgundy isn’t because I want to draw attention to myself – believe me brother, I get more than enough attention already.  It’s burgundy because I made a terrible, terrible mistake.

So I’ve been washing my beard over and over and I have decided to let the grey grow through, albeit with great trepidation.  It occurred to me that I could look around for some silver-beardy role models.  The obvious being Cloony (although his is a fairly embryonic, stumpy effort).

Even I can see he’s gorgeous. Not that I’m, you know. But my beard is significantly better.

Then, as I was speeding through the local rag to the property section, I spotted a famous local celebrity.  An icon of the literary world that had something more than the beard in common with me – the cunning use of his initials as his writer’s name.  Mr C.J. Stone no less!  Now, I hear he used to write a brilliant column for the Guardian back in the day.  I never read it, but the wife did.  Apparently, only to work out just how bad Whitstable was before we moved here.  It was her that suggested I used his tactic for my own nom de plume.  Not only does this venerable gent have an eerily similar name to me, he has a full and luxurious white beard!

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Sooooo, once the dye had almost left the beard – just a few light burgundy (NOT pink) streaks in the silver bits now, I decided to approach C.J. Stone for a formal interview about why he decided to let his grey grow though, glean any advice about the emotional impact of ‘letting go’ and how he maintains his magnificent silver shade.

You have to understand that C.J. Stone is a very, very busy man.  Not only does he still write lots and lots of stuff. He is also a postman and very active politically.  So when I say ‘approach for an interview’, what I mean is ‘approach him on the street, as he’s doing his postal round’.  I knew his route – spotted him as I was putting my kite together down at Swalecliffe.  Not that I’m stalking him.  So I parked up a couple of days ago and jogged over to him just as he was coming out of someone’s front gate.

I will give you the (abridged) version of the interview.  You’ll get the idea…

CK      Hi.  Er, hi?  Helloooo?

CJ       Hello.

CK      Um, I know who you are and I just wanted to say, er, great beard!

CJ       Pardon? Did you say “beard”?

CK      Yes, beard. Er, I was wondering – oh, yeah, I’ll wait here.  Yep, I see the dog sign.  Won’t follow you.  Hate dogs.  Ah, you’re back – I was wondering if I could ask you some questions….

CJ       About beards? I don’t think about mine all that much. I can’t help noticing yours. Is that pink? Whatever made you want to dye your beard pink?

CK      I wanted to ask you about going grey.  If that’s ok?  How was it for you? And it’s not pink.

CJ       I started going grey in my 20s, so I was resigned to it at an early age. I already had the distinguished grey-streaks-at-the-temple-look when I was in my early 30s so I just had to get used to it. I try not to think about it most of the time…. until someone points it out to me that is. Look, I’m a little busy right now, do you mind if we…

CK      So, what’s your advice to me about my beard going grey?  I promise I’ll leave you alone after this.  Right, yes, I’ll just stand here while you deliver the, you know, thing.

CJ       My advice is to leave it alone. Never dye it under any circumstances, and especially not pink. Mine’s not grey anyway, it’s white, which is why my nephews used to call me Uncle Christmas. Goes well with the Royal Mail red jacket doesn’t it? Uncle Christmas, Father Christmas’ cooler younger brother. I once considered putting a black stripe in my hair, as contrast. That was my girlfriend’s idea, but it seemed too much like hard work to me. No matter how often you dye your hair, it will always grow out again, and even if the world thinks you’ve got different coloured hair, you know you haven’t really. It’s like a guilty secret you have to keep to yourself. What a sad life that would be. My view is that you should work with what the Universe gave you and not spend too much time worrying over appearances. It just seems like vanity to me. Personally I’ve got better things to think about… like delivering the mail. Now if you don’t mind….

CK      It’s not pink!  Er, sorry.  I mean thank you, Mr. Stone.

CJ       Who are you again? Are you one of my customers? Have we ever spoken before? I don’t think I recognise you. You need to catch me on a quiet day if you want a conversation with me, unlike today….

CK      I won’t bother you again.  Sorry – Sir.

Obvs we’ve become very close since then.   Didn’t he go on and on?  I think he’s lonely.  It’s not like being a cop is it? Delivering letters.  You don’t get a compardre.  Someone to watch your back.  Nope. It’s a lonely path posting stuff.

Might see if he wants to come and hang out, or start kite surfing.  He’s kind of become my beard mentor.  What a dude!

And lastly.  Very embarrassing.  I think I’m entering the male menopause.  I stumbled across an article in the Daily Mail (it was just lying about – I absolutely do not buy it) by Dr Erika Schwartz who says it’s an actual thing. Well helloooo!  You don’t need to tell me that love!  God.  These over-educated women!  Well I’m definitely getting some of the symptoms.  Not all of them.  Like the ones that involve, you know, sex drive.  Just the grumpiness, tiredness and irritability.  Definitely not the ones that involve anything to do with sex.  Nope.

Rather reluctantly, I visited the health food shop in town.  Now I know I have had a bit of criticism before about my opinion of the lady in there.  I think she seems very sweet and I did feel a bit guilty about what I said about her silver hair last time.  Still think grey hair looks worse on women, but hey, that’s just my opinion!  (Actually it isn’t – lots and lots of actual women think that too!)

So I asked her advice about my hormones and she said, ‘Mmm…clean diet, keep hydrated (non- caffeinated drinks), decent sleep and moderate exercise. I would recommend a good multi vit and mineral supplement if your diet’s a bit rubbish or if you are feeling stressed, you might benefit from some magnesium – it’s a great relaxation mineral.’  Then she looked at my beard and laughed.  I still spent fifty quid in there.

So I’ve had a very boring few days, not drinking booze, coffee or eating nice food and drinking boring, boring water.  Yes I do feel a bit less tired, but believe me, I’m twice as irritable!  Grrr!


I might have a chat with some lads at the gym.  See if they can get me something to perk up the man hormones.  Lols!

Right, I’m off to shampoo my beard again.  Almost all gone now…

Hopefully the wife won’t come home looking like this –

Remember him? Lols.

Laters, oyster pickers!!

Oh.  Some stuff about C J Stone.  He’s awesome.


“Stone writes with intelligence, wit and sensitivity.” Times Literary Supplement

Publications *The Guardian Weekend*The Observer*The Big Issue*The Independent*The Independent on Sunday*The New Statesman*The London Review of Books*Mixmag*The Sunday Herald*The Times Literary Supplement*Prediction*Kindred Spirit*The Whitstable Times*Saga Magazine*Kent Life*The Whitstable Gazette*

Books *The Empire of Things (Gonzo Muiltimedia 2013)*The Trials of Arthur (with Arthur Pendragon: Big Hand Books 2010)*Housing Benefit Hill (AK Press 2001)*Last of the Hippies (Faber & Faber 1999)*Fierce Dancing (Faber & Faber 1996)*

“Wry, acute, and sometimes hellishly entertaining essays in squalor and rebellion.” Herald

“The best guide to the Underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx.” Independent on Sunday

“Passionately serious, irresistibly compelling, and hilariously good-humoured.” Professor Ronald Hutton, Bristol University

“Searching, funny, intelligent and illuminating.” Deborah Orr, The Independent.

Whitstable Exhibition and the Venice Film Festival

Wappen dup!  Busy busy!  Hung out at a private view at my best budddy Chris Conway and Nick ‘Sandman’ Stroud’s’ exhibition.  So, sososososo cool.  Choons could have been a bit louder, but then, you know….was the Horsebridge.  Yawn.  To quote an 8 year old I overheard – ‘they should break out some dub step’.  I don’t actually know what that is, but this kid looked like he knew.

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Then – hard as it is to do it, I had to go to the Venice Film Festival.  Aw, I know….so I’m going to treat you know to some photos of Venice.  Some gossip from the festival and a link to the best films ever shot in the city, in case you ignornant oiks didn’t know….:)  First. a warning about Venice – there is A LOT of water there.  So, you know, if you don’t like water…


The usual red carpet spectacle at the Casino on the Lido.  We didn’t stay there this time.  Prefer to stay on Venice proper these days.  We managed to blag our way into one of the bigger hotels along the beach front and use their pool for a couple of hours.  It’s amazing who you get to meet if you do that…


This is where all the press meet – in the basement at the Excelsior.  Possibly the most vulgar and overly opulant hotel in the world.  Vile.


Crazy Lido living.  The sea was pretty warm this year.  Got a tan.  Wife burned.  Just resent paying 12 Euros to sit on a beach.  Whitstable is free!  Mind you, the skirt is a lot easier on the eye in Venice.  On reflection, I’d willingly pay 12 euros to lie on a beach and NOT have to look at burning, white British blubber handing over the top of an ugly pair of cargo pants.  You get told to leave if you’re fat in Rimini.  Hmm, maybe we could have a section of beach in Whitstable like that…


You also don’t see this chap in the Bubble…He’s getting married here in a couple of weeks.  She’s stunning, just in case you haven’t seen pics of her.  But a bit too, you know, intellectual for my liking.

The opening film of the festival, the highest-profile title and one of our most anticipated of the year, expectations could not have been higher for Alejandro González Iñárritu ’s “Birdman.” But it didn’t just meet those expectations, it surpassed them, delivering a dizzyingly successful about-turn from the director, and a career-comeback-making performance from Michael Keaton, as well as scene-stealing roles for its supporting cast, especially Edward Norton. (from Indiewire).


This was great.

Photocalls: 71st Venice Film Festival - Jaeger-LeCoultre Collection

Pacino at the Excelsior.  He starred in festival entries “Manglehorn” and “The Humbling”.  He did bang on about Salome a lot though.  God, didn’t he.


Francis McDormand got a well deserved prize


As did Scorcese’s long time editor Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell.

Here are some pics I took in between watching films











Onto the first of the greatest films shot in Venice – ‘Death in Venice’.  Beautiful, poignant, wistful.




The second of the best films shot in Venice – ‘Don’t Look Now’.  One of the greatest films of the 1970s.  Really eerie, chilling.  Uses Venice’s echoey alleyways and misty winters to great spooky effect.  And it’s got the most brilliant, but odd sex scene ever – but who cares?  Julie Christie is in it!





Some red carpet moments at Venice –



Some vintage Venice.  Who wouldn’t have a bromance with this dude.  My wife wanted me to shave my whole beard off for the festival, but instead, she allowed me to trim it so it looks just like this.  I miss it, but hey, it’ll grow back.



We had a bit of a shock when we came back.  Turns out our eldest has been fraternising with a local lad.  He was a fair bit older (but looks about 12).  I won’t go into details, but let’s just say Marie Stopes were very supportive as were the staff at the clinic.  I’m all for integration, as  you all know, but that’s not the kind of integration I was planning my daughter doing with the local indigenous population.  All over now, she’s learnt a hard life lesson.  She’s just started seeing a very charming lad from Kings School.  Phew!  What a relief!

Now, I haven’t really mentioned it before, but I’m actually a great fashion fan and this is the season to get excited about.  I’ve been to a few shows in the past – what a buzz!  There’s some very funky stuff out there this year.  Some of my tips for this year.

Bold patterns and statement jumpers – yes please!















Tailoring with a hipster twist.  Don’t mind if I do.









Oversize, colourful, fluffy coats and jackets!  I’m almost looking forward to January.




One for Pippa.  She needs it, quite frankly.  Way too much pasta and ice cream in Italy.  It’ll take her three months to shift it.  Best just sling on a blanket.


This is a great look that I could rock.


Hats.  Big fan of a hat.  I would wear any of these.  Maybe even more than one at once.




Not so sure about this look though.  But hey – that’s fashion!


TTFN pop pickers!