This year, the strange and disturbing event called Movember has gone up a gear. Like winter flu, it appears to be becoming more prevalent.
Friends, colleagues and Twitterers have invited me to join in the Movember ‘fun’.
To each and every one my stance has been firm. Unwavering. I am not going to ‘do’ Movember. Not this year, not ever.
The whole idea is preposterous, and an insult to the noble tradition of moustache-growing in this country. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Movember strikes at the heart of everything that is wrong with this country – what the Sun rightly calls Broken Britain.
The problem stems from the fact that those ill-advised people who participate in Movember grow their moustaches for one month only. Thirty days. And then shave it off.
This is half-hearted. No decent moustache has ever been grown in thirty days. You would not find a Lemmy, a Merv Hughes or an Oliver Reed countenancing doing Movember. It is shilly-shallying. Unmanly.
I first became aware of Movember when I worked at the Science Museum a few years back. There was a cheerful fellow called Ben Jackson who was getting involved.
He proudly grew the thing, and towards the end of the month had something which was showing promise. Given time, Ben’s moustache had a good chance of becoming luxurious and sweeping.
But despite this sapling promise, he remained set upon shaving the thing off. I could not bear the thought of it. To shave now was akin to drowning a newborn kitten in the bathwater.
I spoke to Ben, man to man. He revealed that he did not want to shave off his moustache. He liked the look of it. It gave him something to stroke without putting his hands down his trousers. But his girlfriend was opposed and had told him that as soon as the month was done to get rid.
So moved was I by this tale of woe I transformed from a semi-comatose Outlook monkey to a Man of Action. That very day, the 29th of November, I asked everyone at work to donate to save Ben’s moustache. Many people were of a like mind and in the notoriously parsimonious corridors of the Science Museum donations of above £75 were received.
At the end of the day, in a small presentation in front of colleagues, I handed over the money.
Ben was overwhelmed. He said he would continue to grow the thing for another month at least. There were hugs, there were kisses. It was emotional.
However, his girlfriend remained an implacable foe – a sort of Skeletor to his He-Man. Every night she was on at him to shave it off.
Don’t rise to the bait, I counselled.
Another week went past and Ben’s upper lip took on new heights of magnificence. If Lord Kitchener had seen him at that point he would have made him an officer on the spot.
A few days later I saw him in the staff kitchen, looking ashen. ‘She says it’s got to go by Christmas,’ he said.
‘She can’t mean that.’
‘She does,’ he quavered. ‘She does mean it. If I don’t have the thing off by Christmas…well.’
‘It is the moustache or her?’
‘Well, Ben,’ I said, realising we had reached the endgame. ‘Only you can decide.’
The next day I went into Ben’s office. It was a painful sight. Where once had been a magnificent hunter-gatherer type now sat a pale, pitiful wretch. The moustache had gone and with it his manly self-esteem.
This sad tale reveals what Movember can do to a man. It shows that we live in an age when the ironic pose is prized more than sustained commitment.
Movember is emblematic of how far we have fallen as a nation since the great days of Empire. If we are ever to recover our battered national pride and recapture the glory days of the past, Movember must go.