For a rural county in Scotland that is mostly made up of remote villages separated by lots of hills and countryside, there are plenty of cultural events going on. A few weeks back comedian extraordinaire, Ross Noble, did a performance at Dalry Village Hall, to an audience of about 150 (see Ross Noble posting). Last week the Tour of Britain Cycle Race completed its first stage a few metres from our front door here in Castle Douglas (see Plum Chutney posting). And on Saturday, my son and I went to the Moniaive Comics Festival.
Comics Festivals are usually held in big cities, not remote rural villages like Moniaive (pron: mon-ee-ive). The reason this one is, however, is due to the presence of comic book writer Alan Grant, who has many Judge Dredd and other 2000AD stories in his portfolio along with Batman, Lobo, and the deeply funny Bogie Man.
Following the devastation of the local rural community after the Foot and Mouth epidemic a few years back, Alan and his wife Sue, called upon their comic book industry connections of writers, artists and publishers, to create the festival and help boost the local economy. Despite Sue’s protestations every year that it really is the last one, Rogan and I visited the 5th Annual Moniaive Comics Festival this weekend (visit www.moniaive.com for more details).
We met writers and artists, attended drawing workshops, bought old copies of 2000AD, entered the raffle, and obtained autographs and even signed artwork. A great day out, apart from one disturbing aspect.
Nearly every adult male visitor to the festival was sporting at least two chins and a large belly, barely contained in an over tight t-shirt, that was flopping over their belt, (strangely, however, nearly all the artists and writers were unnaturally skinny), and many of them had beards. It is scary just how accurate the Comic Book Guy character from The Simpsons really is. In addition, I noticed that more than a few had their kids with them, in a poor attempt to disguise their geekiness with the idea that it wasn’t them, but their sons who were interested in this sort of thing.
Given my rantings in the last post against being pigeonholed as any kind of “type”, it’s perhaps not difficult to understand the devastation I felt when I realised just how utterly and completely I appear to fit this profile.
Our clothes, our hairstyles, how we choose to arrange our facial hair (goatees, moustaches, sideburns, clean shaven, waxed etc), all say something about us because they are things we have choice over – unlike our nationality, or the colour of our skin for example (unless you are very determined). But is it necessarily saying what we want it to? As a sulky teenager I remember snapping at my mother’s question about why I wore a leather jacket, stating that I wanted to be different. I was extremely annoyed by her response, “Oh, just like every one else who wears a leather jacket?” Mothers can have the most intensely irritating perceptiveness sometimes.
A few months after I started up my first business I ended up cutting my hair, which at that point was usually kept in a ponytail and almost long enough to sit on. At the time I just felt that it took too long to look after and life would be easier if it was short, which indeed it is. However, I have often wondered since whether the subconscious desire to be taken more seriously as a businessman was the greater motivation for such a drastic change in my appearance.
I kept the beard because I absolutely hate shaving, although it was kept much shorter while I ran my own business. Since selling the business and changing our lives completely, my beard has been getting longer and I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the contents of my wardrobe.
Quite apart from the fact that due to the weight loss everything is too big for me, it is also very drab. I have no idea what kind of clothes I’d feel more comfortable in now, even if they did fit.
And just to add final insult to injury, this weekend I discovered a comment on my last post from El Jacek, who thinks I look remarkably like David Brent from the TV comedy series The Office.Unfortunately, I fear he may just have a point…
(which is which?)