The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View - JANE FRASER

NOVEM­BER is rather a sober­ing month; in the first place men grow hair all over their faces and, even worse, to pre­vent us from be­com­ing cocky, we are re­minded at church that there are only four cer­tain­ties that face us, and th­ese are death, judg­ment, heaven and hell. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Fun­nily enough, no one in this of­fice has grown a mous­tache this year. Last year there wasn’t a clean- shaven man in sight. Some of them looked quite swash­buck­ling, with large han­dle­bars and beetling eye­brows; oth­ers had strag­gly, fun­gus- like out­crops; and quite a few, al­though they had dark or fair hair on their heads, sprouted ginger cater­pil­lars. Not a pretty sight. The rea­son men do this, of course, is that this month has be­come widely known as Movember; the young men are spon­sored by var­i­ous peo­ple — al­most ex­clu­sively moth­ers, I should think — and the money goes to­wards prostate can­cer re­search and treat­ment for de­pres­sion among boys.

Ev­ery­one is be­ing rather quiet as to why they aren’t sprout­ing all over the place but I sug­gest it is the at­tack of the Ly­sis­tratas; cer­tainly, last year, more than one young wife pub­licly made it clear she would have noth­ing to do with her hus­band un­til the hairy face was gone. It’s good to be full of youth­ful zest.

It’s not re­ally that com­fort­ing to face your own mor­tal­ity when you’re get­ting a bit long in the teeth. I’d like to think I’m not yet in the twi­light of my life, but I don’t have to be told that it’s hardly spring­time as far as I am con­cerned. Friends are fall­ing off the perch, hav­ing un­pleas­ant di­ag­noses — in­stead of nose jobs — and go­ing wonky around the knees. Lunches al­most al­ways turn to aches and pains and var­i­ous unguents and pre­ven­ta­tive medicines.

On a cheerier note, when you’re that cer­tain age, it isn’t as easy to do big sins, per­haps be­cause you’ve done them all al­ready and they didn’t work the first time around. If we’re re­ally truth­ful we’d ad­mit that the main rea­son we don’t rob banks, covet our neigh­bours’ dog or kill some­one be­ing ex­plicit on their mo­bile phone on pub­lic trans­port is that we don’t like the idea of be­ing caught out and em­bar­rassed. In any case, I am far too busy to tell whop­pers or let loose with a ma­chete; I’m try­ing to en­cour­age friends and foes to give money to my son. No, he’s not on strug­gle street; he’s grow­ing a mous­tache. And a beard. It has be­come the thing to do at his work­place. Ev­ery­time I see him I have to steel my­self against giv­ing a star­tled shout: is this hairy crea­ture re­ally my baby?

The thing that wor­ries me is the tim­ing. He’s go­ing to Amer­ica for a cou­ple of weeks to the wed­ding of a friend. The hair will have gone by then; how­ever, he needs his pass­port re­newed, so the new pho­to­graph will have him look­ing as he does now. A slightly scowl­ing per­son of con­sid­er­able in­ter­est.

fraserj@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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