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ggreig: (Dark Wizard)

Today is World Porridge Day, which is being promoted by Mary’s Meals. Mary’s Meals provide a daily meal of maize porridge (likuni phala) to some of the world’s poorest children. It makes a bigger difference than you might think – for many children it’s the meal that allows them to attend school.

Insights, where I work,  supports Mary’s Meals, and today there are some themed activities and people were encouraged to wear tartan. You may remember Mary’s Meals was the charity supported by Martha Payne, who blogged about school dinners in Argyll a few years ago as NeverSeconds.

Wearing tartan with Fraser Paterson 
Wearing tartan with Fraser Paterson

Not sure I’ll actually be indulging in any porridge as I hate the stuff, but I’ll be seeing what else I can do.

Donate to Mary's Meals.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

National Bow Tie Day 2015

National Bow Tie Day 2015
(in the US, but we’re an international company)

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Edit: I didn't know when I posted this earlier, but today would have been Roger Delgado's 97th birthday: #HappyBirthdayRogerDelgado.


I’m not a costumier. My skills stretch to sewing on the occasional button so, when attending Gallifrey One in Los Angeles, Roger Delgado’s Master was an easy choice for me. Although he does occasionally appear in extra-terrestrial garb, he’s mostly associated with smart dark suits, and as I mentioned last time, I’ve always fancied having something with a Nehru collar. The creative bit for me was constructing the Tissue Compression Eliminator, and [livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem helped me by applying black and white hair dyes from Manic Panic. Apart from that, everything was purchased.

I tend towards dressing in black anyway, so enjoyed putting together an ensemble that unashamedly emphasised it. The suit was by Alvin Amario, and ordered from eBay. Although the Nehru collar went through a bit of a revival in the UK fifteen or twenty years ago, it’s a bit tricky to find on the High Street these days, particularly when your High Street is in St. Andrews or Dundee. The suit’s light and comfortable, and although I had to settle for an oversize waist on the trousers, they were OK with a belt. Underneath, I wore a matching shirt from Bargear in case it showed (but I don’t think it did). I should probably have worn a shirt with long sleeves, but I’m not a long sleeve person – I’m just not comfortable with them.

For footwear, I wore my usual brogues, but with black jacquard spats from Gentleman’s Emporium which I’ve had for a while. Spats are disappointingly hard to get hold of, but they’re an ace item of clothing. They look smart, they can be unobtrusive (I’ve worn dark spats in public and at work without comment, although the day I don the silver ones I expect people will notice) and they’re remarkably comfortable, snuggled cosily around your ankles.

I covered my hands with military dress gloves from Southcombe in black cotton. Delgado’s gloves seem to be leather and I could probably have worn the leather gloves I already have, but I thought cotton would be less bulky and warm, while still looking smart.

Was it successful? Judge for yourself:

You? The Master? I'll be The Judge! )
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Chap hop is a blend of hip-hop music with a chap æsthetic; that is, a dandyish steampunk or early twentieth century style. It’s decidedly uncool – and was even before Michael Gove expressed a fondness for it – and furthermore, a fair proportion of it is not especially good.

However, fear not, for a while I ago I ploughed my way through most of it and compiled a list to share with some friends. Here, for your delectation, I present “Chap Hop – The Good Bits”. (If you’ve only got time for one, make it Fighting Trousers, but they’re all worth checking out for different reasons.)

Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer:


Songs for Acid Edward: a history of 1990s techno, on the banjolele

Just Like A Chap: a more typical example of chap hop

Professor Elemental:


Fighting Trousers: Professor Elemental challenges the upstart Mr. B
(The unseen "Geoffrey" is, of course, the Professor's simian butler)

Sir, You Are Being Hunted: gangsta chap hop; a promo for a computer game of the same name

Sir Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire:


Just Glue Some Gears On It (And Call It Steampunk): chap-hop meets barbershop

A Belated Introduction: Sir Reginald realises he’s being mistaken for Mr. B and Professor Elemental.
Spot the cameo by Glamis castle, and count the knuckles at the end.
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Wear It PinkFriday was Wear It Pink day, in aid of the fight against breast cancer. Usually my contribution to these things when they pop up at work is limited to that – a contribution – but this time I was marginally more organised than usual. I don’t possess any pink clothing but it occurred to me there was something else I could “wear pink”.

There has to be a benefit to going white…

A while back I decided that occasionally it might relieve the boredom to try a different beard colour; a few people have seen me in blue, but Friday was a bit more high profile. Don’t expect it to be a regular thing, and even less so at work, but if I feel like it…

A bit of research turned up Manic Panic’s Dye Hard as a respected brand that washes out easily. For the pink, as a paler colour than the blue I’d tried before, I actually applied white first (to cover the darker patch remaining on one side of my beard) before applying the pink on top.

The colour combs in easily, and the odd over-enthusiastic application will mostly just wipe off, though it is possible to apply it a bit heavily and wind up with colour on the skin behind the beard. It dries quickly and is good for the rest of the day.

You do have to be a bit careful with a moustache, which should be well-trimmed – otherwise you run the risk of having the colour wash off in drinks, for example. Depending on what you want, you may be best not colouring the moustache. While I went for complete coverage in pink, the contrast between a blue beard and white moustache is quite effective.

The colour also helps with hold once it’s dried, so it’s fairly easy to stay tidy-looking. When the time comes to wash it off, it is really easy to get rid of – a couple of splashes and a bit of a scrub and it’s gone. In fact, it’s so easy to remove I was a bit concerned about being caught in the rain, but I didn’t have any problems in practice. I took the tube and a comb along in case touching up was required, but they weren’t called upon.

Work posted the picture above to the company account on Instagram and I received an e-mail today saying it had got their “best ever response to a picture” – defeating the previous champion, a picture featuring a cute puppy, by a respectable margin.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

One of the team who’s leaving today created these:

Insights Core Development Team - in Lego

See if you can spot which one’s me…

ggreig: (Default)

How many things are wrong with this picture?

Colin the Cow

ggreig: (Moustache)

It’s time to touch on a topic which must be of intense interest to all [checks known readership] no practical interest whatsoever to over half of the people who read this. I’ve been thinking about posting this for a while, but now it would appear to be topical, so why not?

Moustache wax is one of those odd little things from another time, like macassar oil; once all-pervading, but now practically gone. But why? The down-side of macassar oil is easy to see – it necessitated the introduction of the antimacassar, which is now slightly better known than the substance it protected against, but the reason for the demise of moustache wax is a little harder to work out.

I’ve let my facial hair grow out a bit recently, and once the moustache gets past a certain length it becomes necessary to do something to try to keep it under control. Hacking the foliage back is one option, but I thought I’d try wax instead.

I have tried moustache wax before; having read about it a bit online, I tried a tube of Pinaud Clubman, which seems to have a good reputation (also available in Black, Chestnut and Brown, for those who care).

I guess the hold was reasonable, but I wasn’t over-impressed and the wax was sufficiently stiff that it was difficult to get out of the tube – increasingly so as time went by and I didn’t use it much. I determined that next time I wouldn’t buy in a tube, so recently I tried buying a little jar, not much bigger than a lip salve tin.

I reckoned this wouldn’t become so unmanageable as the tube had done, and I expect time will prove me right, but I found it also didn’t give the hold I was hoping for. It’s a softer wax; easier to apply, but also less effective once in place.

I could have kept throwing good money after bad, but it seemed to be time to try the ultimate experiment: making my own.

There are suggestions for this that can be found on the Internet, and although there are some exotic tales of do-it-yourself moustache waxers happily employing substances such as toilet bowl wax, soap, and peanut butter, I thought beeswax and Vaseline sounded a bit more plausible.

Moustache wax ingredients - a jar of Vaseline and a stick of beeswax

I melted a small quantity of beeswax in a ramekin in the microwave, keeping a close eye on it, which took about six minutes. Then I mixed some Vaseline in; about three-quarters of the amount by volume of the beeswax I’d melted, as carefully measured by eye. Almost as an afterthought, I added a couple of drops of aftershave, but I might as well not have bothered – it probably evaporated off the warm liquid. There’s certainly no trace of it.

I poured the wax into a small lip-balm-salve type container (a couple were included when I bought air travel bottles earlier in the year) and let it cool.

My first impression was that the home-made stuff is much more effective than what you can buy. As I said, the Pinaud Clubman seems to be well-regarded, but my Stone-Age Clubman provides a markedly better hold, and it’s a lot, lot cheaper. For a couple of quid spent I have enough Vaseline and beeswax to keep me in moustache wax for a long, long time.

It sets very stiff, and it can be a bit difficult to work some out of the jar onto your finger. Once there, it applies fairly easily to the moustache, although the stiffness can result in a bit of pulling. It sometimes crumbs slightly, in which case you’ve got to be careful that you work it in or comb it out well – pale waxy crumbs in the moustache not being a particularly good look.

The smell could be improved, but it’s mild, and not offensive. If you were to seriously commit to using wax, it might be worth a bit of experimentation to find something suitably aromatic to add.

I’ve been using it for a couple of months now; mostly just trying to keep stuff in place, rather than elaborately sculpted points. My main conclusion is that either I’m timidly failing to apply it with a large enough trowel, or cabinet portraits and period drama give an exaggerated impression of how effective it is. Why don’t we see gentlemen making an excuse to nip off and reapply their wax? Since my hair has always been quite fine, I don’t suppose I have the most unruly moustache hair in the universe, but I find the wax limited in the control it provides. It does hold for a while, but it relaxes over time, and by lunchtime it has pretty much given up. Applying a lot of wax could make the moustache a bit sticky and make the look rather artificial, which is why I haven’t done it. It doesn’t feel comfortable.

Warmth is particularly threatening to the hold, which is where the moustache cup comes in. I don’t actually own one of these, but I can see why – if they work – they might be desirable. Steaming cups of char do not aid the meticulously waxed gentleman. What strikes me though, is that, if you’re confident enough in your manhood, there’s an easily availably modern alternative. Not sure I’m that confident!

Chances are I’ll go back to the beard trimmer for moustache maintenance before too long; I’ve already chopped back the accompanying beard that I had allowed a bit of lebensraum. I think the simple convenience of a machine keeping things at a manageable length is probably the biggest thing preventing a resurgence of waxed mustachios. Still, one ought to try these things at least once, maybe more.


P.S. The moustache in the icon is from a number of years ago; I don't have a recent picture.

ggreig: (Moustache)

Post three things you've done that you believe nobody else on your friends list has done.

I had to think a bit about this one, as I lead a boring and unremarkable life, but here goes. I have:

  1. Worn a lace jabot.
  2. Slept in a tent - pitched on the car deck of a ferry
  3. Served dinner to millionaires in a hotel with performing sheep.
ggreig: (Crazy or smart?)

Wearing a cravat In amongst my dad's things were a couple of casual cravats, and as it happened I also saw one in a charity shop around the same time that looked interesting, so after a few months to pluck up my courage I thought I would give cravat-wearing a try.

It doesn't seem to be an issue at work - I didn't expect it to be - but it draw some comments on the first day, when I wore Dad's silvery-grey cravat. The consensus seemed to be that it looked smart but relaxed.

The picture shows the charity-shop cravat, which is darker. but holds its shape better. The main drawback with this one is that the colour is strong enough that it shows through a white shirt.

Although wearing a tie has never really bothered me, I was pleased to find that a cravat is actually more comfortable. Though I can't see myself switching to a cravat full time, maybe I will for a change now and then.

A quick Google on cravats suggests that there would be no problem with supply if I chose to go for cravats in a big way, but I was disappointed to find that it's not the same story if you go looking for spats. Although I have no need for these items of apparel, I've always thought they looked a bit smart. I have a pair - from Dad's amateur theatrical days this time I think - which I was able to wear at one point (and did, for some fancy dress event). However, they're just a bit too snug to buckle underneath a pair of my shoes now, and I thought I'd find out what it might cost to get a new pair.

Surprisingly few hits occur, and they seem to assume that you're going to want to look like a gangster (or spiv) in white spats. No thank you; I'd prefer a subdued dove grey felt pair, not unlike the old pair that I have. Aren't they even worn for obscure semi-formal occasions these days?

ggreig: (Blockhead)
Sometimes this blog goes quiet for a bit, but the last couple of months have been more quiet than most, as I've been a bit busy; not with anything big and important, it's just that generally there's been a lot to do and I haven't had the time to spare for blogging.

More... )

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