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Archive: Nov 2012

Role Models


Looks Like We Mo’d It…
I have one role model each my Movember: my Dad. He had an brilliantly bushy moustache back in the day, and he died from prostate cancer 4 years ago this month. I took part in Movember again this year to remember that, and had big ideas for it. I was going to talk about prostate and testicular cancer to everyone I met and write a song called ‘Check Your Balls’. But I didn’t get much further than the atrocious daily photos.
It’s not that I lost my passion for the cause or remembering Dad. I just threw myself into ‘Advent Tea’, my little Christmas fundraising project for Christian Aid. ‘Little’ is a major understatement for an operation involving 3000 teabags and sales worth over £600. But with the help of Mum I did it. And I know Dad would have been busy labeling envelopes with her, selling them to everyone he knew and supporting me with his encouragement and determination. Making Advent Tea was a way to put his legacy into action: an unwavering belief in working hard to achieve success and the need to never stop helping other people.
I can’t be the only person you’ve heard call their Dad/Grandpa/Mum/Grandma a role model. They become huge inspirations to us because we live with them, seeing with our own eyes how they deal with the joys, stresses and sorrow of life. I have celebrity role models too, like Ellen DeGeneres: ‘coming out’ in real life and her sitcom was groundbreaking, and she continues to inspire me with the infectious joy she spreads on her daily talk show. But I don’t know what Ellen’s like at home. I guess she’s just as lovely and funny, but she can’t tell me how to react when a friend’s in trouble or there’s a power cut. Dad did.
It’s so blindingly obvious that however inspiring celebrities are, the people we see everyday of our lives become much more powerful role models. That also means I’m a role model to the people I see everyday. I don’t say that arrogantly; being a role model doesn’t mean being perfect. It means I lead life the best way I can, and hope some parts of it seem ‘right’ to other people too. No one person can give us a perfect example of 21st Century living, no idol can spoon-feed us the answers however much we worship them. But as one person you need to live as a role model. What kind of life are living if you don’t want anyone to follow it or learn from what you’ve done? 
That’s why I always help other people when I can, because I know life can be too overwhelming to struggle through it alone. That’s why I made Advent Tea, to support Christian Aid’s work to end poverty. That’s why I grew a moustache, because I knew sharing my Dad’s story would raise money and awareness that will stop other role models dying far too young.
You can sponsor me for Movember at
You can find out more about Advent Tea at



Someone lied to me the other day. I know this isn’t an earth-shattering way to start a blog post. I’m not even sure they realized they were lying to me. But they were, and it was one lie too many from this person. And then someone let me down, using ‘I was being nice’ as their defense. I just couldn’t believe them either.
Now I’m not out to write a rant. But these episodes got really under my skin and I chewed over them a lot, and got angry and upset and sang ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ a few times, even though there was no actual break-up. And after all that thinking, I realized two things. Firstly, Taylor Swift is awesome, so I bought one of her albums. Secondly, we need more honesty in what we say.
I know I let people down sometimes. I try not to, because I like to be a man of my word. If I think I can’t do something, I’ll say. If I say I can help someone, I’ll follow through. I won’t say I’m a saint. I know I occasionally let people down, and tell white lies. But I really try not to. English is like every other language; so rich and versatile, that there’s a word for every situation, that allows us to be honest without being mean.
This honesty has to be foundations for every society. When you believe what someone is saying, you believe in them. You trust them. That’s not to say you have to like them as your friend, but it allows for everyone to be friendly. I don’t want people to be ‘nice’ to me, not least because ‘nice’ is such a wishy-washy word. I want people to be honest with me, so I can build a trusting relationship with them. Of course, the limits of that trust will shift from person to person, but at least it’s there.
So now I’ll be honest. I’m taking part in Movember for the third year running. I thought I’d stop after one, but the lure of knowing each time I will make a difference was too strong to resist. This difference may not be in money. As much as I appreciate that the fight against men’s cancers needs funding (and will welcome any donations to my effort), I also know a blank cheque won’t cure cancer. Instead I want to focus on a difference in getting men to talk about and examine their health. That’s why I can’t comprehend people saying they’re just ‘doing it for fun’. You can grow a moustache anytime of the year for fun. Only in Movember can you grow it and seize the chance to talk to everyone you know about men’s health. Please don’t let that pass by.
To be a man of my word I vow this year to take part in Movember by growing a moustache, learning about men’s health and then implementing it in my life. I’m not doing it to be ‘nice’ or to ‘do my bit’ in any tick-box way. I’m doing it because there is a problem, and I can do something about it.
I’ll be sharing what I learn about men’s health on this blog throughout Movember. You can sponsor me at: