Monday, 30 July 2012

Another blog: Grey Fox

Nice to see another blog in the middle-aged men's arena - Grey Fox (click here to see it) had some useful profile in Saturday's Times.

He's been going a year less than this one but has achieved an impressive following. The writing is very good indeed; he's more inclined than I am to look at role models and pictures from other people's websites with commentary - there's a good piece on there about explorers as role models for certain looks.

Personally I've always been a little nervous about people's copyright - not saying for a moment GF isn't checking this, just that I don't have the time to do so. Which is why you tend to get either Creative Commons stuff from Flickr or PR supplied shots on this blog.

If you enjoy this blog, particularly the style elements, then Grey Fox comes highly recommended by me.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Razorpit: save yourself money

I've been looking at the Razorpit Razor Blade Sharpener. You'd never know it was called the Razorpit, it's in tiny writing on the box on which the main logo says "Razor Sharpener" - odd bit of branding but this isn't a marketing blog, so whatever.

I'm actually surprised the company can call it a sharpener as such because it's not - it's significantly better. Sharpening would shear off bits of a blade abrasively, make it sharp again (tell me if I'm going too quickly for you here) but possibly leave jagged edges. No, this is more of a super-cleaner. Its surface, when lubricated with whichever shaving product you prefer, gets rid of the little bits and pieces of hair, skin and dust which are likely to cause shaving rash.

It also means it's removing debris so the shave will be closer, by all means, but technically it's not actually sharper. It's more efficient use of your blades than before and will certainly extend their life; if you use a cartridge blade and are accustomed to paying something like £8 for a pack of blade heads you'll find it pays for itself in a matter of months and after that you're into savings.

The packaging boasts that it works on double sided safety razors as well. I've no doubt that it does - the sort I use with my beloved Merkur Futur Brushed Steel Razor (£49.99 a shot, but keep reading) - but then I get 30 replacement blades for under £12, so am I very worried about renewing rather than replacing them? On reflection I'm probably not, and it was the long term benefit of paying peanuts that appealed to me in buying it in the first place.

I'm in the minority of course, many more people use cartridge blades than the double sided safety models. If you're among those paying over a quid a blade rather than pennies, this could be a good investment - and it looks OK in the bathroom, somewhat resembling an iPhone (and don't think that's a coincidence). By all means shop around; the link above will take you to Amazon where you can get one for £14.95.

All Amazon links take you to my Amazon affiliated page - if you buy I will get a small per centage. This has not biased my coverage but is mentioned in the interests of full disclosure.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Stand-up for England

Ok, just time for a quichie today, following up on my piece on what to wear as a stand-up comedian a couple of weeks ago. Here's a pic of the pub where I performed, Dirty Dick's.

It went well. The professionals were extremely good and none of we beginners actually died on stage, which was nice. I admit I forgot most of my act a short way in buy pulled it around again.

I'll be doing it again, not in a suit of I can help it - it's just too formal. But 10 September I'll be there again attempting to make people laugh for 5 mins. Entry is a fiver. Last Moday was a belter of an evening.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Batman ticket offer with pants

Flickr: Patrick Mize
Just a quickie today. I've been mailed by the people at BRANDID about an offer they're running and closing today. Basically it's a service for blokes with regular deliveries of underwear, socks, shirts - there are various levels, you can find out about that for yourself.

So they're organising a blokey outing to see the new Batman film one week from today (20th). I won't be going but it might be fun - and of course you can get a discount on a ticket if you sign up to one of their clothing delivery plans.

I have no vested interest, they're not advertising or offering me commission in any way. It's happening in Bethnal Green. If you're interested, and it could be a load of fun, here's the link.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Duchamp and T-Lab sales

Two of my favourite clothing suppliers have sales on at the moment. Let me add I have no affiliation or vested interests here - I get nothing if you buy a single tie or t-shirt, or the entire stock, it makes no difference at all to me.

First, Duchamp. A fine tie maker is how I'd describe this company; I bought a white shirt a couple of weeks ago and the arms are a bit long, serves me right for not going tailor-made (or indeed putting weight on and having a thicker neck than a man of my arms-length normally would). Everything is 50% for the moment because they're running down their excellent summer collection, not that you need to worry about the styles going out of fashion. Think sumptuous, think thick silk ties, think patterned pocket squares. I find the trick is to pick out one piece you like. The picture of the model here is a good example. He's younger than the people for whom I write this blog and can get away with a bit more dandifying than some of us; the tie as the sole interesting feature, or a plain tie and the pocket square, would work better than the whole ensemble in my view. I've gone for a couple of darker ties, a single pocket square and a couple of shirts including the aforementioned white one - and a textured white for parties.

I must remind myself sometimes that this blog is supposed to make money eventually, not cost me a fortune.

You can find what's in the sale at their various premises - I liked the one in Westfield in Wood Lane although the shop in Regent Street left me curiously cold - it's finished online but to get an idea of what they do and find outlets you can click here.

Meanwhile the more casual among us might remember I've written about T-Lab before now, good quality T-shirts, nice designs, nothing OTT but a bit more interest than plain white or a colour. They have a sale on and until 19 July you can click on their website here and get 20% off everything. My own favourite of the moment is the GBR shirt (pictured) which is sufficiently GBR-ish to make a good option for the Olympics but not so in-your-face that it's going to date immediately. Also cheaper than officially licensed Olympic kit...

Good quality, reasonable prices, I've bought items from both of these myself. And I do assure you once more I get nothing for saying so.

Hey fatty, how's the sport? Fitbit research

There's a great piece of research bound to do the rounds over the next couple of days. The makers of Fitbit, a sort of extended pedometer which monitors how many steps you've taken, how many stairs you've walked up and down, how far you've gone, have looked into how much lard we're all going to put on around our waists by watching sport rather than doing it this summer.

Men have admitted to watching four hours a day of sport (which if you're watching a tennis match isn't much), with 5% saying they'll happily watch 42 hours a week when the Olympics are on. A fifth of us confess that we can't fit exercise into our lifestyles.

I'm overweight and this is where the Fitbit has started to help. It acts as an ordinary pedometer but then it starts doing clever things (and before you ask I bought it after having it recommended, no freebies, no discounts). The website is the clever bit because it starts telling you how you're doing compared to the average.

Take my own example. I walk the dog twice a day, I go up and down stairs a lot, I walk to the station when I have to - I was a little perplexed at just why I'm this shape. The Fitbit site told me in about 24 hours that a lot of the calories I take in are unnecessary - not just through the obvious stuff like "cut down on the drink" but also I hadn't taken in how many calories were in a glass of orange juice, nor had I measured how large my bowl of cereal in the morning was. Cutting this down a bit was no trouble.

More importantly in spite of walking the dog I find my average daily steps are about 60% of those of the average male of my age. It all slots into place really easily after this.

If I could change one thing about the website, it would be that it's so American. This isn't a criticism as such, but when all of the calorie measures for fast and pre-packaged food refer to foreign products it's much less easy to guesstimate how much you're taking in. Nonetheless in identifying a few areas I could be changing quite painlessly, this little widget is very useful.

It also tells you about your sleep patterns by tracking your movements. I thought I was sleeping badly and blaming a lot of tiredness on that, taking ages to get off... It turns out that I'm not, my imagined 'ages' is about ten minutes long and I sleep like a baby. Inactivity is the answer.

At £79.99 it's not dirt cheap but for a report like that on my lifestyle I would have paid a lot more. You can get one from Amazon through this link.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Hairbond: non-sticky moulder

I don't write much about hair care on this blog but on this occasion I'll make an exception. I'm rather enjoying using Hairbond's Moulder product (thanks for the sample, guys) and will be ordering again when I run out.

Of course you need the right sort of hair. I have mine short and very slightly spiky or roughed, until it gets too long. In the past I've used various gunk, most recently L'Oreal Homme's Clay. They all tend to be a bit sticky and unpleasant - my daughter had run out of hair product once, put a little bit of my stuff on her hand and went "yicch" (she does the same with my shirts, mind you, she's that age).

They're effective, though. Rub a bit in your palm, ruffle it through towel-dried hair and you're done - really easy. The Hairbond stuff works in the same way but feels more like a sort of non-greasy butter; there's no stickiness but it holds the shape nicely. No scent to compete with any aftershave you might want to wear either. I'd recommend this one happily.

Speaking of hair, you might recall I've mentioned my barber, The Valet, a number of times. I'm delighted to confirm that last week they won the South London Business Award for Favourite Business. Huge congrats to all concerned.

Oh, and to the bloke who put a note up on my Facebook page last time I mentioned them criticising me for being rich enough or posh enough to have a personal valet: it's the name of a shop, dipstick.

Friday, 6 July 2012

What to wear on stage - a new comedian writes

Flickr: Doug Hay
Some of you who follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, friends on Facebook or anything like that, might have noticed the messages saying I'm having a go at stand-up comedy on Monday evening (9th July, Dirty Dick's on Bishopsgate opposite Liverpool Street Station, 5 minutes as one of the open mic slots, which start at 7pm). It's a long story that started as part of a course in sharpening my general presentation skills.

So tempting to think "right, get an outfit together to fit the blog, something a little bit humorous, a bit edgy perhaps" - then I got a corporate gig during the day, there won't be time to nip back and forth home to change, so 'suit' it is. The tie, if I'm wearing one for my meeting, will come off and that's about it.

But then, that tends to be what most comedians wear anyway. Have you seen Michael McIntyre recently? Or not recently? He always looks completely sharp and is very well tailored. His shape has changed substantially over the years (he's currently looking pretty damned healthy) and everything is always an immaculate fit. Jack Dee, too, has always opted for the 'sharp' look and mostly tops it with a tie. He is also a tricky shape as a small man; my guess, once again, is that he goes bespoke.

Younger comedians are a bit more variable. Russell Howard goes for jeans and t-shirt. Russell Kane would make a suit look conspicuous with that hair - and it's not just the younger variety, Paul Merton's shirts on "Have I Got News for You" could give EastEnders' Alfie Moon a run for his money.

So I'll be aiming for 'inconspicuous' for three reasons. First it pays to be age-appropriate unless you're as talented as Paul Merton. Second, I'm only doing it for five minutes, you think I'm going to dress up? Third, if it did go any further - and that's not the aim - I might as well start with a look that's not going to make me shudder in future!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Is your head in danger from the sun?

Flickr: sarahstierch
I've never been one much for hats but I was at Wimbledon last week and there was - however briefly - this yellow thing in the sky. Although I have a full head of hair I also have a couple of cysts on my head - harmless, I've had them looked at, my dad had them so I know where they are and that they won't hurt - but, and here it comes, they do give me exposed patches of skin on my cranium. This, for someone who has no particular desire to drop dead of cancer too early, is not good news.

So I've been considering the options. A lot of men at Wimbledon were wearing baseball caps. I hate baseball caps with a passion. They are functional but they really look cut price - and on checking the prices of the straw panamas at the souvenir shop I saw I was right. £49.50 for something you're going to wear only once or twice when we get a bit of sun, if you please. That said

So I did the only decent thing - went to Amazon and found something similar albeit without the Wimbledon colours in the band (note to self: who cares?) for £34, which was much more comfortable. Of course I can't try it on, but you compromise a bit sometimes. It's fair trade and it's also a traditional panama in that you can fold it up. One of the Amazon reviewers takes his on holiday in a sawn-off picture tube, the sort you pick up when you buy a print at a gallery. I'm glad he thought of that as I had a nasty feeling mine was going to end up smelling like the Pringles tin into which I was going to stuff it.

Alternatives are available including fiddling around with sun block; for people with a completely bald head I'd recommend this as well as the hat. For a patchy bloke like me, the hat option will do fine for the moment.