The Duke - October 1, 2014

HAIR TODAY..Robin Duke - not from a recent stab at Movember...clearly more from his period as a Bee Gee
HAIR TODAY..Robin Duke - not from a recent stab at Movember...clearly more from his period as a Bee Gee
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Whatever happened to real month names? You know, the ones we used to remember the length of with the help of skipping rope mnemonic “30 days hath bright September, April, June and dull November” etc etc.

Now we’ve to remember their real names as we slip effortlessly from Sleeptember (a September advertising campaign for comfy beds) to Stoptober (a national campaign run by Public Health England to encourage people to get help to stop smoking during October).

And no sooner is that over, and everyone has reverted to smoking again, than it’s time for another dose of Movember – laudably raising funds to fight prostate and testicular cancer and raise awareness of male mental health.

In case you hadn’t noticed (or thought it was just something to do with the nights getting longer and the days becoming colder), it’s recently become an excuse for men to grow as much moustache hair as they can in the 30 days (see above) of November.

That’s great for men who go to bed clean shaven on October 31 and wake up on November 1 with what already appears to be a pair of handlebars sprouting from their cheeks and upper lip.

But it’s not too wonderful for those chaps who still look more like they’ve merely smeared their lower face with a borrowed eyebrow pencil – even when the month’s up.

And what about all those women who find they are having to shave their upper lip too, just to avoid callous jibes about joining in the 

As with the recent ice bucket craze (whatever happened to that?) it’s just a shame so many people have to have their awareness raised in such gimmicky ways, rather than be aware in the first place.

There’s always the hope these things will suffer from the law of diminishing returns. When Movember started, the image of moustaches had more to do with the Village People and 70s television detective series. Today they are almost fashionable again.

Maybe that’s a good thing, especially if it encourages people (particularly football payers) to shave off the Amish-style beards these days felt to be the de rigeur accompaniment to savagely cropped hair and more tattoos than you used to pay a penny to see at a fairground sideshow.

But why has the September to November period become so popular with “awareness”?

So far, December remains safe. After all, it’s a bit full of things such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve – and anyway people are far too busy spending money on themselves and loved ones and having holidays to worry about raising funds.

January and February are fairly safe – we’re traditionally too broke to worry about other people. Charity does, after all, begin at home.

March is too busy roaring in like a lion and going out like a lamb to be worried about anything else, while ever since TS Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, April will always be dubbed “the cruellest month” – so not much good for fund-raising then.

May’s not bad, but it’s only one syllable so really difficult to make into a cause, June’s too busy busting out all over to be taken seriously.

July is already National Ice Cream and National Blueberry month in the USA, so no time to worry about it also being UV Safety month.

By August we are (literally) warming up thanks to it being Child Support Awareness Month and Family Heritage Month.

So get set for a new raft of awareness raisers – but remember ice cream and blueberries don’t count as charities, and think long and hard before trying to grow a moustache.

Just to be clear... I’m not Japanese

The Manager’s not pleased with this column.

It’s not that she minds being mentioned in it – far from it. A vast improvement, she reckons, from when I wrote restaurant reviews and liked to refer to her as “my dining companion” rather than “my wife” or “Mrs D”, or any other clue to the fact I was married.

No, it’s just that last week, when I wrote about “retired husband syndrome”, the article featured a large photograph of an ancient Japanese couple (because the research had been done in that country) slurping noodles from a shared bowl.

“Everyone will think it’s us,” she said – though hopefully “everyone” doesn’t include anyone who knows we are not, in fact, an ancient Japanese couple.

“Steve Canavan doesn’t get pictures of old people on his page,” she complained. “Nobody thinks Mrs Canavan is Japanese. And Jacqui Morley gets young people and politicians on her page – not toothless noodle slurpers.”

Pointing out that, a few weeks ago, Countdown’s Rachel Riley graced this page didn’t help. “That’s only because you fancy her,” she replied. “It’ll be Dr Who’s Jenna Coleman next.”

Now there’s a thought.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We hear what you’re saying Mrs D, so we dug out a picture which definitely is your husband