Tags: photo posts

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Give me 12 inches (and make me a wig)

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

The fear of going bald does strange things to a man - just ask Mark Oaten.

Thing is, there’s no turning back from it. Greyness can be dyed - or embraced as distinguished - while general creakiness and excess weight can be argued away with vague promises of the gym. Hair loss, however, is the end to your illusions of eternal youth.

In my case, I’ve spent the last couple of years cultivating a ponytail that reached halfway down my back. It’s gone now - sent to a charity that makes wigs for child cancer patients.

Before

For the last month or so I’d been seeing signs that screamed ‘hair loss’. From the scalp pains and the variable depth on different parts of my head, to the slimmer ponytail and the dead hamster in the plughole each time I showered, it looked very much like the game was up.

My mum, briefly a hairdresser in her youth, disagreed. So did Beloved Other Half who, despite her fondness for radically short styles, still has more experience than me in possessing long hair. Both argued that hair can, and does, thin under the stress of length.

Nevertheless, I decided it was time for the ponytail to go. If the barber discovered acres of rolling space, we’d have an answer.

I’m now back living in my home town after 20 years away in Norfolk and London. The barbershop I used to go to when I was younger is still there, although the staff has - of course - completely changed.

Once, it was dominated by a cartoon Italian with long permed hair and a moustache, a twinkling smile, and a love for the ladies. Alas, it transpired that one of the ladies he loved was aged 14 and, faced with the police, he threw himself under a train. The young lad who cut my hair barely remembered him - he’d seen him for childhood haircuts but never worked with him.

These are the things that underline the passing years.

Has to be said, young Rez did a fine job on the hair. After checking three or four times that I did really want the ponytail cut off, he sheared it away. A brief look of panic crossed his face when I cried out “nooo, I’ve changed my mind”, but it was replaced by a broad grin when he checked in the mirror and saw from my expression that it had been my idea of a joke.

After a remarkably short time, and an even more remarkably small bill, I was shorn neatly and the ponytail, still secured by its hair band, was wrapped up in tissue in my pocket. He conducted a close inspection of my scalp and declared that no, I had nothing at all to worry about in the hair loss stakes. Not yet, anyway.

After the chop

And the ponytail? That’s going to charity.

I have an ambivalent attitude towards cancer charities. Heroes during one close family member’s illness, villains during an in-law’s last months. However, I was determined that I’d do something useful with the discarded hair.

The Cancer Research UK page on the subject of hair donation is not terribly encouraging. But Beloved Other Half did some digging on those ol’ interweb things and came up with a charity called the Little Princess Trust (website / Facebook group) which was set up to provide wigs to children with cancer and other illnesses that cause hair loss.

Now, I’m not generally one for excessive pinkness. And I do tend to believe that little girls are better served by aspiring to be engineers rather than princesses. But there are times to be a grouch and times to shut up and embrace your inner sparkliness.

The Little Princess Trust was set up by the parents of Hannah Tarplee from Hereford, who died in June 2005 of cancer, aged five. It helps parents of children with cancer and other illnesses that cause hair loss to find and pay for realistic-looking wigs made from real hair.

And, obviously, the hair has to come from somewhere. Hence the donations page. The rules (lifted here word-for-word from their website) are simple:

  1. Ensure you have at least 10″-12″ of clean, good condition hair.
  2. Hold the hair tightly whilst cutting it and securely tie the follicle end of the hair ensuring all the hair is lying in the same direction.
  3. Package the hair in such away that it cannot become tangled.
  4. Send it to;
    Little Princess Trust
    43 George Road
    Edgbaston
    Birmingham
    B15 1PL

It turned out, when measured, that my ponytail was exactly twelve inches. So off it goes.

I think I’ll stay short-haired for a while now. It’d be sad to turn 40 looking like a member of Status Quo, after all. But its nice, and a trifle ironic, to reflect that my brief panic about getting old has resulted in an action that will - hopefully - help someone young whose battle is simply to get where I am now.

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Nailing my colours to the mast

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

Your author with Charles Kennedy, 2001
“Winning here!”
A washed-up hack with only a short time left in his political career poses for a campaign photo with Charles Kennedy.

That photo of me and the boss taken during the 2001 general election, when we both had fewer chins, should illustrate where I stand in the madness that's currently gripping a miniscule proportion of the Liberal Democrat party, namely the ones with the letters “MP” after their names. I post it not to show off, but simply to make it clear that, during a period when most of Charles Kennedy's supposed allies are retreating from him faster than an Italian tank regiment, some of us are proud to have been associated with him and don't mind who knows it.

I am, to put it mildly, furious at the antics of the Parliamentary party - just a tiny fraction of the membership and in most cases merely the person standing on top of a very large pyramid of activists who worked their little socks off to get their man or woman to Westminster and who are now wondering what got put in their Horlicks when they arrived there. Our MPs seem to have forgotten that in the set-up of the Liberal Democrats there's a leader and then there's everyone else, whose votes are equal. If they don't have confidence in the leader that's their problem - we chose him, and for each MP a group of dedicated people chose them to follow his lead.

So, I have a message to those MPs who want him to stand down, and that includes ones who I've worked side-by-side with in the past and respect greatly, such as Norman Lamb and Susan Kramer, just as much as it applies to such over-promoted lightweights as Sarah Teather.

Either stand against him if you dare, rally behind someone else who is prepared to stand if you don't have the nerve to do it yourself, or shut up and get on with what your local party sent you to Westminster to do. In case you've forgotten, that was to represent your constituency's interests on the national stage, advance the principles of liberalism as expressed by the preamble to the party's constitution (particularly the first sentence of it), and assist the leader chosen by the membership as he builds towards a Liberal Democrat government.

Don't hide behind a load of sanctimonious wank about “I have great affection for Charles who has led us with considerable skill, I admire his courage and wish him well but think he must now stand down gracefully for the good of the party as, sadly, we can't work with him anymore.”

If Kennedy stands in a leadership election I'll both vote and campaign for him and if he doesn't then I'll write his name onto the ballot paper rather than support whoever eventually does.

I hope he can survive as leader, but I fear he's doomed after today's Murder on the Orient Express display by his MPs, and in my book that's a real shame.

After all, if he can lead us to our best result in a lifetime while drunk as a skunk, what dizzying heights could he reach now he's pledged to do the job sober?

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From the passenger seat

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

Something you don't see every day: a London Underground District Line train being driven round the M25 this morning on the back of a lorry. If this is the Greater London Authority's latest attempt to get people to commute using public transport, all I can say is they seem to have missed the point somewhat.

Tube train on the back of a lorry on the motorway: 1
The next train is for Ealing Broadway

Tube train on the back of a lorry on the motorway: 2
Mind the gap

Tube train on the back of a lorry on the motorway: 3
Stand clear of the closing doors

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Extra! Extra!

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

It seems to be the thing at the moment to be amused by newspaper bills - the posters with breathless headlines that papers give to their street vendors and newsagents to help shift copies.

The Evening Standard Headline Crisis 2005 set on Flickr has such classics as “TOOTHPASTE CANCER ALERT”, “MAN BEHEADED IN LONDON STREET”, “IPOD HEALTH ALERT” and “DOG STOLEN AT GUNPOINT”. But anyone who's ever seen the “Sub“, as we called the Standard when I was on the Kilburn Times, will know to expect that sort of thing.

More obscure, and therefore far more amusing, is the Cardiff Terrifies Me blog. This targets the bills put out by the South Wales Echo and all I can say is I'm awful glad I don't live over there: “DRUNK TEACHERS FLED FROM CAR CRASH”, “SEX TRAFFIC PAIR LOCKED UP”, “'MY BROTHER KILLED SHIRLEY'” and the chilling “MUSLIM PUPILS IN SAUSAGE ROLL BLUNDER”. Note that the last one says 'blunder' and not 'blender'.

So here's my sole contribution, published here to show that while some parts of the United Kingdom are hotbeds of sex, drunkenness, dog theft and inappropriate sausage meat, other areas are just a little bit calmer.

From the West Briton, mid November, Helston in Cornwall:

Issues To Be Looked At After Action Day
Issues To Be Looked At After Action Day
Isn't it exciting? Isn't it intriguing? Doesn't it just make you want to rush out and buy the paper RIGHT NOW?
Me neither.

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Start and finish

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

Both ends of the same day - the sunrise and sunset on November 14th this year. (Links go to Flickr, where you can see the full-sized versions of these photos.)

Sunrise over Falmouth
Up…
Sunrise over Falmouth, Cornwall, from the Grove Hotel, 14th Nov 2005.

Sunset across the Cot Valley
…and down.
Sunset across the Cot Valley, western Cornwall, from the garden of “The Canyack” National Trust holiday cottage on Nov 14, 2005

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Pimpin’ da blog, yo

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

051105-70
Publicity whore
The Eden Project, one of Cornwall's biggest tourist attractions, has an education centre with a wall made up entirely of refridgerator doors. If there's a teaching purpose to it, I missed it - as far as I could see it existed mainly to give people the chance to play with the hundreds of letter-shaped fridge magnets on it.
I couldn't resist the opportunity to promote my website address - as high up the wall as I could reach so it would stay there and not be broken up by other people searching for those hard-to-find “Ws”.

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Before he was famous

Originally published at And Then He Said.... Please leave any comments there.

This rogues' gallery all stood for sabbatical elections at the University of East Anglia (UEA) between the mid-1980s and early 1990s. These photos all came from their election literature.

If you look hard enough I'm in there, and one or two of the faces went onto greatness of a sort. There's a stand-up comedian in there, the head of a domestic violence charity, at least three people who joined the BBC as journalists, at least one with an entry in the IMDB, a university lecturer in war studies, and someone who may be the founder of Wagamama - or who may just share his name, I'm not sure.

Surprisingly few seem to have gone into politics, but one who did has been in the news lately - in fact, I saw him interviewed on the Beeb's 10 o'clock bulletin tonight. He wrote a controversial piece in the Independent a few days ago that has been widely (and I suspect inaccurately) interpreted as a stab in the back for an old friend called Charlie. See if you can spot him… (Hint - the alt text to the images will help.)

Kate Aldous Phil Angell Marcus Bluett Phil Buckley Bungle Charlotte Bush Julian Campbell
Rob Cartridge Michelle Cheaney Paul Cooke Andy Darley Robbie Davies Clare Draper Timmy Eiseb
Roger Farrant Mike Feeney Rod Findlay Pete Gaunt Richard Grayson Chris Hall Richard Hewison
Dominic Hook Jason Ions Davina James Hanman Annie Jarvis Kenneth the Gerbil Saleem Khawaja Dave Lettice
Tim Lynch Clive Lyons Ian McKenzie Aidan Merritt Ross Patrick Andy Redman Emma Reed
Jon Robb Webb Alan Russell Gina Ryan Nicola Sainsbury Jerry Sandford Phil Scott Claire Smith
Terry Sullivan Martin Verran Lynn Ward Owain Williams Giles Wilson Jenny Witt Alan Yau

Note - if you're one of the people pictured here and you want your photo removed, just email me to say so and I'll do it at once.

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