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.

Blog Posts

Why I Write Fiction

Part three of a three-part series on how, what, and why I write.
(Jump to: Part One | Part Two)

So far in this series I’ve considered how I write and what I write. While both posts required a bit of thinking to pull together, this final instalment was the hardest.

When George Mallory was asked why he climbed Mount Everest in the first of three British expeditions in the early 1920s, he responded with the now legendary quote:

Because it’s there.

I prefer the updated quote by Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle:

“Why do we do these things? George Mallory said the reason he wanted to climb Everest was because it’s there.’ I don’t think so. I think Mallory was wrong. It’s not because it’s there. It’s because we’re there, and we wonder if we can do it.”

This is the main reason why I write. When I read a great novel, I’m inspired. I see the mountain the author had to climb in order to complete it. I wonder if I could do it.

Some other reasons

I don’t think it’s possible to come up with a complete list of reasons for anything. The deeper you dig, the bigger the hole, the more you’ll uncover. Therefore, what follows is a list of four more reasons that came to me when I asked myself why I write. I’ve tried to put them in order of importance.

Leaving a legacy – I never tried to have a child of my own, and sometimes feel sad that I will not leave anything behind when I die, apart from a house, a little money, and some belongings, most of which will end up on eBay, in a charity shop, or buried in landfill. People who have children are to an extent able to ‘live on’ through their offspring and leave a lasting legacy. That’s something I will never be able to do, so perhaps by writing I am trying to fill that fundamental gap in my life.

Exploring how I feel about something or someone – One of my friends used to accuse me of thinking and analysing too much. He was probably right. However, inside me there is a strong desire to ruminate over how I feel. I enjoy exploring my emotions. As humans, most of us feel them, and most can relate to the emotions of others.

Reliving the past – I recently turned fifty, and have more than half a lifetime of memories stored in my brain. As far as I know, I still have many years to look forward to, but I do like to reflect on the past and remember some of the good (and bad) things that have happened. Some of these may seem insignificant, but they are defining for me, and I try to get that across in my writing by allowing my characters to have the same experiences.

Rewriting my life – Who wouldn’t want to go back and live their life differently? I’m not a bad person, but I’ve certainly made mistakes in my life, even if they are only small ones. Maybe I regret buying something extravagant or saying something stupid when I was in a bad mood. Perhaps I wish I hadn’t written a life-changing letter, or then again, maybe I wish I had. What would have happened if I hadn’t given up with something when I did? How would my life be now if I could rectify just one little mistake? I like to explore these possibilities through my fiction.

Write for whatever reason

Some people write for money, others write to get famous. Everybody is different. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong approach.

Whatever makes a writer tick, that’s the reason they should be writing.

Blog Posts

What Type of Fiction I Write

Part two of a three part series on how, what, and why I write fiction.
(Jump to: Part One | Part Three)

Before I thought about writing, I was an avid reader. From a young age I devoured books, both fiction and non-fiction. Like many people of my generation, my childhood was spent reading stories by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and C.S. Lewis. However, unlike many others, I also liked to read Greek mythology. In our house we had an old set of encyclopaedias which contained adaptations of Homer’s Odyssey. I read them word-for-word, fascinated with the tales of adventure.

As I grew up my tastes changed, and in my teenage years I gravitated towards horror and the supernatural, which was fashionable at the time. I used to borrow these books from my local library, much to the concern of one of the librarians, who wasn’t keen on my taste for this genre at such a tender age. I read lots of books that had accompanying films: Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist. My favourite author of the time was probably Stephen King.

The Horror Years

I started writing in earnest in 1994. I had plenty of free time, and after a run of Stephen King novels (including his epic, The Stand), I felt inspired to try writing myself, just to see if I could do it, and what it felt like to write for pleasure. To my surprise, the words came easily, although whether or not they were any good is another matter.

The first novel I wrote was Augustus O’Kane, a story about a haunted computer. It was around 41,000 words in length, landing in that grey area between full-length novel and novella. I enjoyed the experience of writing and felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I completed the project.

Cult was my second attempt at a novel, a tale about a religious cult that carried out human sacrifices in a forest. This was a full-length novel, and once again I found the process of writing easy and enjoyable. I wrote this in 1994, straight after I had finished Augustus O’Kane.

My third novel was Raise the Dead, a story about a trainee priest who discovers his old friend from school is trying to raise the dead from their graves. I wrote this in 1996, with much less time on my hands because I was newly married. The only way I could get through the first draft was by writing late at night or early in the morning when the house was quiet.

The Thriller

Around this time, I was broadening the scope of my taste in books, and had moved away from horror onto thrillers, reading novels by Jeffrey Archer, Wilbur Smith, Michael Crichton and others. It seemed logical at the time that I should try my hand at writing one.

My fourth novel was Deadly Obsession, a tale about a rich man who would stop at nothing to collect archaeological treasures. I wrote this in 1997 and tried a different approach. Instead of just letting the story develop as I wrote, I plotted out each scene in advance, until I had the full plot. This resulted in me having to go back and complete the daunting task of filling out each scene in detail, a plodding and mechanical process that I didn’t enjoy.

Short Stories

I didn’t write for a long time, mainly because I was focused on setting up a consulting business, commuting up and down the country, trying to find new work, etc.

Eventually, the urge to write returned, and I began penning short stories. My wife also enjoys writing, and the two of us would come up with an idea for a story, which we then wrote over the course of a week. When they were finished, we would do a swap and read each other’s work.

Due to my busy lifestyle and also the advent of the Internet, I didn’t spend as much time reading novels, although I had started to read more classics by authors such as Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Evelyn Waugh, and Leo Tolstoy. (Anna Karenina nearly killed me, but I finished it.)

The stories I wrote during this time seemed more authentic than anything I’d written before, probably because I wasn’t inspired by a particular author or genre. They are contemporary, full of nostalgia with a strong sense of place.

Fifth Novel

I am currently writing my fifth novel, provisionally titled A Different Path. It’s the story of a man in his twenties, single, lacking in confidence and stuck in a rut, who finds his life changes when he meets a well-dressed stranger.

Once again, it’s contemporary, with elements of nostalgia, love, and that same strong sense of place that I enjoy getting across in my writing. I’m reading more novels now, but I haven’t allowed myself to be influenced by other writers or genres.

What works for me

Over the years I have been writing, I have found I produce my best work when I try to be myself and just let the words happen instead of trying to emulate other authors or write for specific genres because they seem to be going through a boom.

Some authors have found great success in following the market and anticipating its trends, and there’s nothing wrong with that approach if it makes the individual writer happy.