MAKE-UP, a friend once told me, is like cooking and contraception: best left to girls.
It was a hard thing to hear – partly because it made me realise I’d spent half my life with a boy who had a similar world view to Andy Capp, but mainly because in my pocket was concealed some concealer.
There is now too, actually. There always is...
I thought about this conversation recently when a national tabloid – probably needing to fill some space left by not hacking into the voicemail of some Big Brother bozo – ran a piece saying men are now spending more on beauty products than their female counterparts.
Seems while four out of ten women swear by simple stuff like Vaseline, Boots-own brands and the odd drop of anti-frizz, fellows under 30 are out there spending their hard-earned, not just on a bottle of Old Spice and a tub of gloopy hair gel but on male moisturisers, guyliners and chapsticks for chaps.
They’re tanning, toning, plucking, picking, scrubbing, scraping, straightening, styling and generally spending more time in front of the mirror before one night out than their grandads did in their entire lives.
Which makes me wonder what my old man’s old man would say – but, of course, he’d say nothing. He’s dead.
You can bet if he wasn’t, though, he’d have a few choice words for these wannabe Beckhams and Brands – and he certainly wouldn’t like his grandson walking around with that concealer.
But I have an excuse.
It goes back to when I was young and stupid (aye, as opposed to just stupid) and one drunken 2am when, with the enlightenment only a boozy teenager ever experiences, I decided to take a shortcut home.
The fact it meant scaling an eight-foot fence meant nothing to me – or at least it meant nothing until, seconds later, I lay a crumpled heap at the bottom of the other side.
‘I’m all right,’ I told a companion, but as he looked into a hole where my nose had previously been he decided I probably wasn’t.
Some short cut. After he called an ambulance I didn’t get home for five days.
Doctors - God bless the NHS - spent hours cutting, stitching, sewing and moulding me a new hooter.
They took skin from behind my ears, stretched it, shaped it, then stuck it like a plaster over the hole in my face before – with a pride which, personally, I thought could have been toned down – they stood around me admiring their handiwork.
A piece of art, one said, considering the original canvas.
It is a strange feeling, reader, to lie semi-slumbering wondering if a man employed to save lives has just called you ugly.
I never did query it. But I did query with a nurse a few days later how I would live with a nose a different shade to the rest of my face, and – God bless the NHS once more – she offered me her stick of concealer.
I’ve worn some almost every day since, using it like a comfort blanket for the vain narcissist not-even-metrosexual I can hear my granddad – and that friend, and Andy Capp – telling me I am.
At £7 a stick it doesn’t come cheap either.
Certainly it’s more than a tub of Vaseline, but I keep paying it, addicted to its shade.
I suppose I should be thankful the nurse never showed me what guyliner might do for my eyes.