Monthly Archives: June 2012

Further joys of a good shave

I didn’t really want to get embroiled in shaving posts, and less so in too much advertising but as I scrape a blade across my protesting face every two or three days it can become a quest to make it the best experience you can. I got a lot of my original supplies from traditionalshaving.co.uk, who do provide an excellent selection of shaving ware, but very much with the emphasis on the traditional and the British. Having experimented with an assortment of blades as in my last post, I finally settled on Personna and went looking for a bulk supplier. I found boxes of 20 from traditionalshaving.com, who are based in Ireland and whose site looks rather like the UK site but doesn’t seem to be related. The site also has different stock and a more international outlook including some great Italian soaps and creams. One revelation is Proraso pre-and post-shaving cream. I was using a eucalyptus and menthol after-shave balm from Asda which was provided a nice to end to a shave but isn’t always available. Proraso is also a eucalyptus and menthol cream, refreshing when applied before and after shaving. They also make a soap, but I didn’t find that until after I’d bought some Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap, which is made in Bradford but that I’ve only found on sale at Bradford Industrial Museum. I also inevitably had to get a brush, and finally found a synthetic one made by the excellently named Bluebeard’s Revenge, nicely packaged by Men Are Useless. I’m still experimenting with soap and brush so also got some Proraso shaving soap to make a comparison.

Single blade shaving has a ritualistic aspect to it, and requires a bit of research to find the materials that you want, as they’re rarely found in high street chains any more, but there’s still a huge choice in specialist shops and on the Internet so you can find what works for you.

Down by the Riverside

My time in higher education was misspent at Teesside Polytechnic in Middlesbrough. Moving there from Doncaster was generally swapping one declining industrial town for another, albeit one with a better cultural life even in the mid-80s, and not all driven by the presence of the poly. But as I had grown up with Sheffield, and to a lesser extent Leeds as the nearest big cities, in Middlesbrough, 40 miles up the coast, an hour on the train, was Newcastle. My first trip was in my first week and it was to begin a relationship that has continued since.

The Riverside was also new to Newcastle in September 1985, built in a disused warehouse overlooking the Tyne and born out of the lack of such a place in the city, and the lack of pretty much anything for young people in a city that had suffered more than most from the Thatcherite downturn. It wasn’t long before I was discharged from an orange VW Beetle, queued for my red membership card and failed to see the Shop Assistants.

Over the next four years my education got in the way of seeing such bands as the Fall, the Go-Betweens, Swans, Dinosaur jr, Godflesh and Rapeman to name but a few. Broon was drunk, the floor was stuck to, and sometimes the ceiling, and the city was changed very much for a better, leaving a legacy that remains to this day.

As you might imagine, there are many stories to be told from such a place, and Hazel Plater, a former employee, collected many of them and wrote a book. The next plan is to make a film and collect the reminiscences of performers and attendees alike. In the fashionable way, the first stage is being crowdfunded through Indiegogo and needs to raise $5000. If you’re like me and enjoy musical history for the sake of, well, history, you’ll understand that it’s a labour of love and that it needs to be completed. If you were there at the time, you’ll probably need to be reminded. If you give enough you’ll even get a copy of the book. You can’t say fairer than that.