“Hair today, gone tomorrow”??
As most people cannot fail to know by now, the past four weeks has been enriched by the renaming of the current month as Movember and the subsequent cultivation of facial hair by certain members of our staff. The cause is a good one, the raising of awareness of male medical problems such as prostate cancer, and the method chosen is an entertaining one. In my early years of teaching I too boasted a moustache and so felt able to display some empathy to those embarked on this project.
I am not certain if this happens to everyone, but I wonder if you, like me, often find relatively small and self contained projects spiralling into massive endeavours in the blink of an eye. One day we had about half a dozen male members of staff quietly growing moustaches which, in some cases, were scarcely visible to the naked eye, the next we had apparently committed ourselves to purchasing the entire region’s stock of stick-on upper lip forestry and selling it on to men, women and children for display on Friday 25th November. I really must practise phrases like, “Don’t be so silly,” or, “Absolutely not, this is a serious establishment” for these all too frequent occasions when staff come to present me with currently irresistible proposals to engage in such madness.
How was the day itself? It was, in fact, great, injecting some laughter into the November gloom and allowing the whole community to smile at one another as broadly as the glue on our upper lips allowed. It provided the opportunity to laugh at others but, so much more important, it provided the opportunity for us to laugh at ourselves. Schools are potentially the absolute centres of excess when it comes to people taking themselves too seriously or falling prey to the illusion of self-importance., the adults because of their “position” in regard to the students and the students because they are teenagers, an age group under no doubt whatsoever that they are the centre not only of their own universe but of everyone else’s too. Such illusions are very hard to maintain when wearing a strip of anything from synthetic horse hair to offcuts from carpet tiles across one’s top lip.
All of us at times fall into the trap of striking poses or of regarding ourselves with some sort of spurious reverence. The ability to put things into perspective, to hold a mirror up to our own ridiculous foibles and, on occasions, to share a joke at our own expense is an invaluable life skill. Friday gave us the chance to put aside some of our ludicrous views of our own self worth and share in a genuinely communal activity without concerns for our own precious “dignity” and I hope we may all have learned from it. Mind you, I have to say that, although most people looked utterly ridiculous, I thought my moustache make me look quite dashing……………………..