Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Touch

Touch by Graham Mort.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Touch is a collection of twenty-one short stories by Graham Mort. The book opens with two beautiful examples, A Walk in the Snow, and Annik and Serge. Daniel was also beautiful, but sad.

There are some dark themes in the collection, such as animal cruelty (Ducklings) and sexual abuse (Why I’ve Always Loved Fishmongers). A good number of the stories are unhappy, even miserable (Rain), and at times even I felt there was too much description, to the point that I struggled to hold onto the thread of narrative.

The prose was honed and well-crafted throughout, but I was disappointed to find a couple of the stories didn’t go anywhere, ending almost as if the writer gave up, or ran out of time or words. The title story, Touch, stood out as one of these, coming to a jolting stop that left several loose threads dangling. As a reader, I felt frustrated at having invested time in reading it, when there was ultimately no point.

Would I recommend Touch as a collection of short stories? Well, the above probably reads like a harsh review, but yes, I would recommend it. If, like me, you’re a fan of atmospheric scene-setting and description, you will enjoy most of these stories.

View all my reviews.

Categories
Being Bald

Yes, I Still Shave My Head

I’ve already written about the experience of buzzing my hair and shaving my head for the first time, but that was almost a year ago, so I thought it was about time I wrote a follow-up post.

To Recap…

Just before the UK went into lockdown last year, I buzzed all my hair off for the first time. Over the months that followed, I experimented with different lengths from 1mm to 6mm, but most importantly, I never felt I wanted to grow it back. I loved my new look and the confidence it gave me, and I still do, a year later.

I tried shaving with a blade a few times, but found that too tricky, and a little nerve-wracking. I also tried using an old foil shaver, which was easier, but took a long time. However, both experiences revealed the length I was happiest with was as close to 0mm as I could get. In other words, completely shaved.

The Remington RX5

Around the middle of August last year, I invested in a Remington RX5 head shaver, and started shaving my head as close to the skin as a rotary shaver can get. I was really pleased with that machine. It delivered a quick shave in a few minutes, and if I spent a bit longer going over my head a few times, I could get it quite smooth, especially if I shaved straight after a shower while my head was wet.

Some guys report irritation using the RX5 or other rotary head shavers, but I didn’t have any problems.

Getting Closer

I used the RX5 every day for several months, but at weekends I would often go back and use my old Philips foil shaver, which could get even closer if I was prepared to keep going over it. I found myself liking the smoother shave more and more, and over the 2020 festive period, I made the decision to try shaving every day with the foil shaver to see if I could maintain that smooth finish on an on-going basis.

It turns out I could, and I didn’t want to go back to using the RX5, so I made the decision to invest in a new foil shaver that was specifically designed for shaving heads. I did some research, read lots of reviews, and watched lots of YouTube videos before I decided which one to buy.

The Babyliss Pro Titanium

In January this year I splashed out and treated myself to a Babyliss Pro Titanium head shaver. It’s a beast of a machine, used by professional barbers to get a smooth shaved head finish without using a blade. It’s a beautiful object, superbly designed, nice and weighty, with a substantial build quality.

After charging it, I tried shaving my head with it for the first time and was immediately impressed. It was powerful, and I could feel it shaving completely bald as it moved across my skin. After a few days of practise, I got the technique nailed down, and I’ve been using it every day since.

The key for me is to shave every day, using short strokes against the grain, not too much pressure, taking my time. The results are a perfect skin-smooth head shave every time.

(A little side note: I’m amazed by the battery power in the Babyliss Pro Titanium. A full charge can last over three weeks, which is pretty impressive. In comparison, the RX5 usually needed charging every week.)

Pre-Shave Oil

I read on some blog (probably one selling shaving oil) that using a pre-shave oil would guarantee the closest shave possible, and that it would work with either electric shavers or blades. Although I was already happy with the closeness of the head shaves I was getting without oil, I decided to give it a try, to see if I was missing out on an even closer shave.

It didn’t work for me. The oil made the shave feel a bit more comfortable, but I found the oily bits of hair gummed up the cutting blades, meaning I had to stop mid-way to clean them. After a couple of days, I also started experiencing some irritation and spots, so I abandoned the oil and have been using it as beard oil instead. It smells great, and I’m happy to have repurposed it instead of throwing it away.

To Be Continued…

That’s my journey so far. One year on, I’m still sporting a completely shaved head, and I absolutely love it. When combined with a beard or stubble, I think a shaved head can give a man a strong, distinctive, masculine look. I will never go back to having hair, and I honestly wish I’d shaved it years ago.

If you’re a guy who’s contemplating buzzing your hair or shaving your head, I hope you’ll find this post useful, and trust me when I say how awesome it is once you take that step. That first buzz is the scariest part. Once you’ve done it, you’ll immediately feel better. No more bad hair days, no more trips to the barber’s, no more worries about wind or rain. You can look good from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, and experience that sleek feeling of a perfectly smooth head every day.

Some days I pause and wonder what I would do if a cure for hair loss became widely available and it was possible to completely reverse the process. Would I go back to having hair? It’s a tough one, and difficult to answer, but right now I can honestly say I’m enjoying being bald, so the answer would be no, and I mean that.

Categories
Short Stories

Buried

Buried is a short story I wrote at the end of 2020. It was first published in March 2021 by CafeLitMagazine. The opening paragraphs are below, and you can visit the CafeLitMagazine website to read the full story.

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Some people have happy memories of school, forever wishing they could return to those carefree times.

Not me.

I hated school, especially sports. Each week I got Mum to write a note about a sprained ankle, sore back, or ingrowing toenail. The games teacher recognised the weak excuses, and made me watch in the cold, where I stood, wishing I could be normal, running after the ball like the others, without my belly jiggling under my shirt.

Hugging my trombone case brought comfort, knowing I was good at music. That, and chess. I would look at my watch every few minutes, worrying I might be late for computer club. When Sir blew his whistle, I hurried to the changing room to collect my school bag, which stood out among the smart Gola and Head ones, a cheap, nasty thing, like my Tommy Balls shoes.

I was a typical target for a bully.

It began on the bus. I had my trombone case between my legs, cradled in my arms. There was a thump next to me as the boy who was about to become my bully plonked down and dropped his bag on the floor. I had never noticed him before, and he didn’t speak. He had no reason, until the bus turned onto the main road out of town.

Continue at CafeLitMagazine

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Photo by Riccardo Fissore on Unsplash.