Sunday, 31 August 2014

What sorcery is this?

I've not had very much hair for well over twenty years, so this counts as a very minor dilemma, but what's left is now starting to be peppered with grey. Is now the time for a budget mid-life crisis,* in the form of a trip to the chemist to buy a bottle of Grecian 2000?

This stuff's been advertised for as long as I can remember. If it really does what it says on the tin bottle, it's a truly amazing elixir - it supposedly removes as much grey as you want, works for any colour hair, makes your hair look 'thicker and healthier' and lets you control how much grey you lose, gradually. As I tend to work on the assumption that 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,' I remain to be convinced.

It's common knowledge, even among the most haircare-unaware males that women reach an age when they are presented with a choice - to colour or not to colour. After this stage, those who decide to colour spend a great deal of time and money on various dyes and treatments intended to either match their (former) natural shade, or to produce an unnatural, but hopefully flattering, colour. Why would they go to all this trouble and expense when a 125 ml bottle of Lady Grecian 2000** could restore locks of any colour to their former glory at a price point of around ten quid?

And how the hell can this stuff work on any hair colour, selectively touching up the grey hairs to match the non-faded ones? According to the blurb:
Grecian has the unique ability to replace lost melanin with a similar acting pigment. Different hair colours are the result of different amounts of melanin, nature's colouring protein.
Still sounds like witchcraft to me.

On balance, even if vanity doesn't drive me to try this on my remaining hair, curiosity compels me to find out more about this alleged wonder tonic and the puzzle of why so many more apparently expensive treatments continue to exist, after the invention of a seemingly effective and low-cost way of retaining your natural hair colour.

But once I've found out, the honourable course would probably be to go with the Mary Beard solution and say to hell with the primping and faffing about that the gormless, image-obsessed, immaculately-coiffured, dress-to-impress, photoshopped, Facebook-image-curated part of our relentlessly self-promoting culture demands and decide to be more interested in the amazing ideas inside peoples' heads than in the fluff on the outside. Her dignified refusal to be held to an arbitrary and unrealistic standard of grooming when she's got far more interesting things to think about should make her feminist icon, to be sure, but should also be an inspiration to anyone of either sex who's more interested in content than surface.

Grecian 2000 may or may not be a real tonic, but Mary Beard's the real deal and no mistake.

*Technically, if this is my mid-life crisis, I can expect to receive the traditional droid-couriered congratulatory holo-greeting sent to all centenarians, from old King William/middle-aged King George, in the senior life-support pod where what's left of me will be residing in the spring of 2063.

**Is there any functional difference between male and female melanin, or is this simply another piece of pointless gendered branding, like pink scooters for little girls and blue ones for boy tots?

Friday, 29 August 2014

So not part of the establishment

Apparently, the political establishment has been thrown into a state of panic, now that some back bench MP known only to party political anoraks has defected to a party which isn't yet represented by a single member of parliament. Something called Dods' political biography calls Douglas Carswell 'Tall and Eurosceptic ... one of his [now ex-] party's radical thinkers.'

Yes, two of the three most interesting things they can find to mention about Ukip's great white hope are his height and the fact that he's a "radical" (about the most meaningless term in the contemporary political lexicon), so we can safely ignore him for ever and turn our attention from the monkey to the organ grinder, one Stuart Wheeler, the millionaire Ukip donor who's recently been 'wining and dining' lots of innocent Tory MPs before finally seducing Carswell in his puce-upholstered boudoir. Here's an extract from a 2011 portrait by Matthew Bell in the Independent:
Charming and witty, he is one of those embarrassed Old Etonians. He dines at White's, he's good at bridge ("I'm about the two- or three-thousandth best player in England"), and he divides his time between Mayfair and Chilham Castle, a Jacobean jewel in Kent that he bought nine years ago...

...How he came to be sitting in a multi-million pound penthouse beneath a portrait of Margaret Thatcher, which he bought for over £250,000, is an extraordinary story. Born to a 42-year-old spinster in 1935, she gave birth in secret and immediately put him up for adoption. He was brought up by an American banking heir, Alexander Wheeler, and his wife Betty Gibbons, the daughter of a baronet...

...Wheeler's public life only really began, as he knew it would, with that £5m donation [to the Conservative Party, around the turn of the century] After Eton, he did national service in the Welsh Guards before reading law at Oxford, working as a barrister and a merchant banker before setting up IG in 1974. Politics became his hobby in 2000, when he was introduced to William Hague at a dinner at White's and, impressed by the young leader, made a donation of £15,000.
So there's the driving force behind your grass-roots, anti-establishment political earthquake. As per Owen Jones 'It says all too much about the narrowing of democracy that those presented as outsiders are the establishment in undiluted form.'