What I’ve Learned in 2015, Part Two

More SHB contributors reflect on the past 12 months in life, and in beauty.




Five key things, really.

1. According to RuPaul’s Drag Race, you can use lube as a primer.

2. American hair dyes are a bit bloody lively. On a work-trip to LA I went to a mysterious place called Hot Topic and bought Manic Panic hair-dye, which was all but a mythical vegan legend when I was a British teenager. Typical over-zealous American, it stained my pastel lavender hair (and the bathroom floor of the airb&b I was staying in) blue. I sent my landlord an Amazon gift card. I still feel terrible.

3. Your back will feel more better (betterer?) after a £15 yoga class than after a £60 massage. Word. Also, I learned to stop feeling guilty about exercising during my working hours. It unbungs your brain-pipes. Also, youtube yoga videos are the SHIZ.

4. Gel nails are my new God. I’d never got it before, because I didn’t get why you’d want to be stuck with the same nail varnish colour for weeks when hey the ruddy world could end any minute right guys, let’s fuck. Then I had an hour to kill in America (oh hi yeah I’ve been to America, I only mention it cause it’s much cheaper there, due to supply and demand – see also: fanny waxing, food, and therapy. It’s a smashing country.) After, my frail, chippy claws were plump like cherubs and shiny like newborn babies eyes and also unbreakable, like Kimmy Schmidt. It was an amazing fortnight’s holiday from giving a shit about my nails. What great art has gone un-thunk because I was pondering my Essie topcoat? One can only imagine. (Also, they’re supposed to last two weeks but mine stuck firm and I got fascinated watching them literally grow off my body, like a really really low-stakes David Cronenburg film.)

5. Sometimes, when you’re paying for a beauty treatment, you’re really paying to not look at your phone for an hour. And that’s fine too.





What I’ve Learned in 2015, my first full calendar year as a married man.

Let’s start with the kitchen. I have learned, with the help of my wife, that there is a better instrument for transporting fried eggs from frying pan to plate than the potato masher. And from daughter Molly that the purple rubber spatula is not actually for chivvying chunky chips, but for cakes.

I have also learned some of Molly’s culinary preferences. Although the fuckwittery of iPhone 6 appears to have deleted my full list on the subject, from memory I can tell you that her favourite Haagen Dazs is chocolate fudge brownie, that she could live on any smooth pate “forever”, that her favourite biscuit treat is Gooeys and that pepper is “the devil’s work” as a condiment but “perfectly acceptable” as an ingredient.

To the bathroom, where I have now absorbed that soap as much as water is part of the whole post-wee hand cleansing process. And that post-poo drops is an actual thing.

I am still something of a stranger to smelly stuffs. But thanks to The Molster’s extra special treat last Christmas for Mum and Pops, as she likes to call me, I now know that a squirt of Tom Ford Costa Azzurra (the dark blue one) is just the ticket for movie premieres and wedding anniversaries. But that although the 007 eau de toilette allegedly works a treat on Bond’s ladies it does naff all for my wife.

Finally a few vinyl observations. I now appreciate that Babs Streisand’s Greatest Hits Vol 2, Joni Mitchell’s Court & Spark and Carole King’s Tapestry are what’s most pleasing for my wife with a roast on Sundays. But it’s Prince, Luther, Hot Chip and Blondie all the way for gin & fizz soaked Kitchen Disco Fridays. And as for a shared love that we never knew we had till it hit the turntable, we’ve now got the melancholic Michael Steele penned Bangles single, Following, forever.




carey tribute

In all honesty, I’ve learned far more than I wanted to this year, however useful it’s all been. I’ve learned that time is running out for all of us, that everything can turn on a sixpence and be gone in the fluttering of a falsie. But I’ve also learned that people are extraordinarily kind when they really don’t need to be. As I type, Carey’s Just Giving page stands at a phenomenal £82k (she opened it with a target of £5000). Over 3500 people – very many of them strangers – have helped get her there. Countless more sent words of sympathy and good wishes. The wonderful women of the salihughesbeauty.com forum donated somewhere in the region of £8k between them, an absolutely massive effort and contribution that makes me tearfully proud on a regular basis. I’ve been reminded that when it comes to happiness, good fortune and any kind of meaning in life, the people you love really are the beginning and end of things. To be there for them is to enrich your own life profoundly. You should obsessively collect good memories of them – even if you must spunk all your spare time and cash in doing so – and know that each moment spent with true friends is an immense privilege. On a more shallow and less humble note – of which Carey would perhaps be more approving – I’ve learned I can look good with short hair despite having an almost completely round face, I can write a bestseller, present my own radio show and address the Oxford Union and not make an arse of myself. Contrary to my own entrenched belief system, I can wear a rose perfume (Aerin Rose de Grasse), a non-tubing mascara without smudging (MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash), an embellished garment (Needle & Thread’s tulle lindyhop number) and red eyelashes (thanks Carey, again). I’ve learned that I’m done with having kids, am finally over my divorce, and that 40 really is fabulous – turns out people aren’t desperately trying to convince themselves when they say it, after all. They say it because they’ve realised that being 40 means they’re still alive. And because they’re finally wise enough to know that being alive, around those you love, is the very definition of winning. I will never, ever take it for granted again.






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