…The 5th of November. That’s the rhyme that the English use to get schoolchildren to remember that great precedent-setting event of Great Brrritish history: the foiling of a terrorist plot. That’s right. Guy Fawkes celebrates the war on terror, four hundred years old and still going strong.
Okay, okay. It doesn’t just celebrate the foiling of a terrorist plot.
It also celebrates burning Catholics.
So, get your marshmallows out. The fam and I made it out to a community celebration on Saturday to watch some fireworks lit off and what can I say? It was festive, as a lot of these celebrations are nowadays — no longer indelibly connected with morbid origins, they’re now just about getting together with your neighbour, reconnecting and lighting off some pyrotechnic displays, a bit like on the 4th of July, which, by the by, this is the closest the British have to, with mulled wine and flasks of coffee instead of brewskies and hot dogs.
If you’re still confused about what Guy Fawkes Day actually celebrates, have a look at the video below. It’s wildly hilarious and explains the occasion quite concisely while raising some interesting points of comparison with our contemporary political climate.
Enjoy that? Good. As you know from my last post, I’m doing Movember again this year. I’ve already raised £30 because of some very generous donations so far, but I’d like to hit £100 this week. Please click on the link below and donate a fiver to raising awareness of men’s health issues and to the greatness of my tache (it will be great by the end of the month, I tell you). Thanks!
So, I thought I’d sit Movember out this year. I was growing a nice trendy winter beard. I was a bit narcissistically self-conscious of the mature grey parts that have all of a sudden started appearing, but I’d learned to accept and even like my more mature look.
In case any of you don’t know, beards have become the coolest thing since sliced bread. You wouldn’t be caught dead in a trendy place like The People’s Republic of Hackney without looking like a well-groomed Grizzly Adams. I’m sure it’s a similar sartorial situation in your own cosmopolitan urban centers.
I was just starting to get to like the beard look on me. I fancied myself looking a bit DH Lawrence (American intellectual look, don’t ya know). The missus was even starting to tolerate/show a favo(u)rable attitude towards the facial fur.
Besides, I’d done me bit. Hadn’t I raised £400 last year and over £200 the year before?
That’s an excuse though, isn’t it? It’s a rationalisation. It’s what people say when they mean, “This has nothing to do with me and is clearly not my problem.” I’ve put a dollar in the collection basket. I’ve done my bit. I’ve bought my girl scout cookies. I’ve done my bit. I’ve bought my single source coffee. I’ve done my bit.
But then, walking around one of our quaint little local shopping venues yesterday, seeing bearded models in the window, I started to think, am I just putting my vanity over a cause that is far greater than myself? After all, men have a 14% higher chance of developing cancer than women and a 37% higher chance of dying from it. More than 100 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day. And suicide is the single highest cause of death in men under 35. Given that I’ve raised over £400 in the past (that’s around $640!), isn’t it morally irresponsible not to try to raise awareness of men’s health issues and funds for a great cause? And growing a tache is such a small thing to do to make a significant difference. So, I’m not trying to “big myself” up as the kids these days used to be fond of saying. I could be doing way more. But this is a small thing for just 30 days to make the world a little better.
Besides, the jury on the beard was still very much out. DH Lawrence was stretching it and “tolerating” is not the same as “enamored with”. I can always grow it in December anyway.
So, have a heart, dig deep, click on the link and give. Goal this year is £500 and if just 100 of you gave a fiver (that’s right. A fiver!), that it’d be men’s health that much more better off in 2014. I’ve kicked my tenner in. Go on. Make a difference.
Men’s health is a difficult issue. No question. We are supposed to be the sex that stoically soldiers on no matter what sort of pain we’re in. Go to the doctor? Never! I’d much rather bleed it out. That’s what real men do, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong in many cases. I wish I could say that last sentence was merely figurative, but knowing at least one person in my lifetime who might well have avoided a painful and fatal case of testicular cancer has helped to hammer home to me the vital importance of changing the way we think about our health and taking prostate and testicular cancer more seriously.
These are just a few reasons why I’ll be doing Movember again this year. I’m starting out clean-shaven as you can see from my Movember Day One picture here and I’ll be keeping up a Movember section on this blog throughout the month and for a few days in December for any last minute donaters. You can read more about the rules that every Movember participant has to follow here where you will also find inspirational articles and stories about the kinds of work that Movember funds.
I admit, it’s not running a marathon, but it does hit men at our most vulnerable point: our vanity. And it is also a lot of fun. I enjoy it because it makes me feel a bit World War One Poet and I start to spout Siegfried Sassoon in my sleep by the beginning of December.
But the more important aspect is that I get to become a living breathing conversation piece that draws attention to and raises money for a good cause, which brings me nicely to my appeal.
I raised £208 (that’s $335 and 258 euro) last year for research and awareness of men’s health issues especially prostate and testiculary cancer, and that was only properly joining late in the game. I reckon with a little effort I can more than double that and raise £500 this year. All I need is for at least 100 of you kind readers to donate at least £5. Not much for a good cause and one that’s not really given due thought and consideration in this day and age. Please be generous, follow the link, and donate.