A History of the Bow Tie

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There are two types of people who wear a bow tie, the fanciest of the fancy, those attending some black tie gala or white tie state dinner. And the old school sort of academic, the kind who wears decades old tweed, with patches on the elbows. But whether you’re wearing it with tweeds or a tux, how much do you actually know about the knot at your neck?

The earliest examples of the bow tie, came about during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which was fought between the powers of the Habsburg States, and the powers of Central Europe, over who the hell knows what, but the ties them self have developed form the scarves worn by Croatian mercenaries that were used to tie closed their shirt openings. This was adapted into the cravat by the French (Cravat, being a derivative from the word Croat, the people of Croatia), versions of which are still worn as formal wear today, the cravat knot was then adapted into a bow, and then as most things do over time (phones, I pods, etc) the bows got smaller, and then by the turn of the 20th century, the bow tie was pretty much as we know it today, especially with the advent of the pre tied, ready made bow tie.

I myself have been known to rock the bow tie from time to time (black or white tie events seem to crop up almost weekly) and I’ll be completely honest, I look good.

World Mental Health Day

I just found out that tomorrow is world mental health day today, and this has inspired me to talk about the state of my own mental health. To put it bluntly, its fucked. I suffer from Bipolar disorder, or as it used to be known, Manic Depression. This means that at times I can be incredibly low and lethargic with no motivation to do anything, and at other times I can be all systems go, with a great deal of hyperactivity, and a fairly overactive personality.

Right now I can feel myself slipping from the hyperactive manic side, sliding back into depression, possibly as a result of being too overactive over the past few weeks. The problem with being manic is that it isn’t the opposite of  being depressed, but rather its reflection, the similarities are all too similar, you may, like me, still neglect personal care, in order to focus, you may still have trouble sleeping, because you become focused on whatever is occupying your time, you may also find it difficult to concentrate but in different ways from the depressive side of things, and then if that isn’t bad enough, sometimes, but not all the time, you can fell your mood descending, its like in a cartoon when a rain cloud forms over one persons head, and you can see them rolling in, and unfortunately there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it, you might try and fight it, by loading up the things that you try and do, a mad blitz of housework, or a barrage of emails, to make up for the days where productivity will be zero. However I’ve found that doing this makes the initial onset of the depressive side of my disorder worse, because on top of the depression tiring me out, I’m tired already, and feel the effects twice as bad.

Having been initially diagnosed with depression after the birth of my daughter and later re diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, the last few years have been a bit of a bumpy ride, I’ve tried medication, although I chucked this due to some adverse side effects, and whilst I can by no means say I have a complete handle on my condition, I can at least say that I’m getting better at coping with it, I’m forcing myself to be more active when I’m depressed, and channelling my mania into more productive avenues than my old stand by of drinking myself into a stupor and its actually having a marked effect with my work as a councillor and within the community.

Slim Fit Is The Devil

I’m a fat guy. I’m not morbidly obese, but in all honesty I am carrying a fair bit of weight in my gut, I have a 48 inch chest, but the problem is that I have a 52 inch stomach, which makes buying clothes off the peg a bit of nightmare, actually scratch that, it makes it an almost Danteish like hell of epic proportions. You have that moment of excitement, that little thrill of anticipation and then BANG right in the cojones, that huge steel toed boot of dissapointment when you see the words slim fit, and you realise that you would never be able to do the thing up, or if you could, one deep breathe could send a button hurtling across the room.

Now I hear you  saying, but surely you but bespoke, and the truth is I would like to, but my budget doesn’t really stretch to it at the moment, so this is why buying a bigger size and getting alterations done is also out, because also slim fits will often come up short in other areas like the sleeve or in overall length as well, and this is why I despair. It is next to impossible for a larger gent to look good on a budget, you either have to buy tailor made from china (which lasts about three wears and then falls apart) or you have to buy second hand, which just looks shabby, so if you want to look sharp when you are in fact round, what do you do? I wish I knew, and before you suggest losing weight, this has long been an issue for me, no matter how much my weight fluctuates, I can’t remember the last time I was able to pick something up on the high street, even at my most skinny.

Dental Poverty

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Have you tried to find an NHS dentist lately? My god, I swear it would be easier to find a virgin on a maternity ward. In the town of Cwmbran, there is just one dentist taking on NHS patients, and that practice has a six month waiting list.

I haven’t had a dentist since I moved to Cwmbran, and I moved here in October of 2014. And the other day one of my teeth started giving me hell, luckily it passed, but I still put my name on the waiting list anyway. So I began shopping about to see if there was anything reasonably near. Nothing. Except private dental care, which costs a hell of a lot of money.

It got me thinking though, there is a really high correlation between those on low incomes and those with poor dental hygiene. Cheap food is laden with sugar, and those from low income backgrounds are more likely to smoke (another thing that rots your teeth) and whilst yes those on benefits will be exempt from the charges of NHS dentist’s (tabled below) those in employment with low incomes, especially young people, wont be. I mean if you work for 40 hours a week on minimum wage, it’ll cost you almost two thirds of weeks income to get some proper dental work done.

Band Treatment Charge
1 This charge will include an examination, diagnosis and preventative care.  If necessary this will include X-rays, scale and polish and planning for further treatment.  Urgent and out-of-hours care will also cost £14.00. £14.00
2 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 charge PLUS additional fillings, root canal treatments or extractions. £45.00
3 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 and £45.00 charges PLUS more complex procedures such as crowns, dentures or bridges. £195.00

And it really is a bar to employment, missing or crooked teeth are something that is probably going to put off potential employers, or hurt chances of promotion, and whilst I know how shallow that sounds, its actually been proven to be true, time and time again. But the associated costs of travel and time off from work are also a factor.

So how do we address this problem? Well ideally it would be to increase the number of NHS dentists in Wales, which means the Welsh Government need to cough up a heck of a lot of money to entice qualified dentists to Wales while also paying to train a heck of a lot more. And since one of the Welsh Government’s priorities is “Promoting positive health throughout life” and that they are actively trying to improve health and reduce inequalities in healthcare. maybe its time that National Assembly of Wales put their money where their mouths are.

Bemo Beard Oil Review

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I’ve never tried beard oil, though I’ve had a beard for over half a decade and I’ve been a pretentious git for almost three. So, when my darling fiancee presented me with a bottle of BEMO Premium Beard Oil to review, my interest was definitely piqued.

After trimming my facial follicles to a manageable length – I was beginning to look like a taller version of Gimli – I put the oil to the test. At first I wasn’t too sold on the scent, a combination of grape seed oil, crambe seed oil, almond oil, castor oil and aloe vera extract. But, after a week’s worth of use, it has grown on me.

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It puts me in mind of the Carlton Club in London; that ingrained smell of rich oils and foreign fragrances that somehow gives way to visions of oxblood armchairs wreathed in cigar smoke. A far cry from the image I had previously associated with oiled face fuzz: the Dick Dastardly-esque moustache-twirling villain!

The oil itself was very easy to apply, thanks to the bottle’s practical and elegant pump design. My only quibble is that the oil, as the name suggests, is rather oily. After use I did find myself having to wash my hands three or four times before the greasiness was completely gone. But, that said, my beard is definitely feeling softer and looking more luxurious.

But, then, I suppose I’m worth it.

A Gentleman’s Guide To Top Hats

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Its the 21st century, you’re probably thinking, who on earth wears a top hat any more? well you’d be surprised.

A top hat is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, worn by men from the latter part of the 18th to the middle of the 20th century. By the end of the Second World War, it had become a rarity in ordinary dress, although it does continue to be worn in specific instances, such as state funerals.

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The Royal Garden Party 2017

As of the early 21st century, top hats are still worn at some society events in the UK, notably at church weddings and racing meetings attended by members of the royal family, such as Royal Ascot. They remain part of the formal uniform of certain British institutions, such as the boy-choristers of King’s College Choir. They are usually worn with morning dress or white tie, in dressage, and as part of servants’ or doormen’s livery.

I have worn a top hat, when alcohol wasn’t involved, once in my life, and that was to the queens garden party last year. I also wore one (the same one) for a few jokey photos at my wedding reception.

How To Tie A Cravat

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This was something that I wasn’t a hundred percent sure of until I actually started wearing a cravat on a regular basis.

I will point out that it helps (and also looks pretty cool) if you use some form of stick pin to hold the cravat in place, and also to add that little touch of decoration that a plain solid colour cravat may desperately need.