x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

And Another Thing: a roundup of news from this week's headlines

And Another Thing: a roundup of news from this week¿s headlines: male makeovers, the dangers of wildlife encounters, expanding our understanding of art, and the allure of a sporting uniform

Nesbitt in May, 2007.
Nesbitt in May, 2007.

Encouragement for balding men everywhere

"It's horrible going bald - anyone who says it isn't is lying," says the actor James Nesbitt who has recently undergone two hair transplants at the cost of £7,000 (Dh40,500).

Losing their hair is a particular problem for the male species and it can happen for men as early as their teens - witness the footballer Wayne Rooney.

But if it were your husband, would you mind him spending £7,000 on follicular unit transplants as they are known in the medical world? My immediate response is that I wouldn't mind, that is, if we had a spare £7,000 laying around the place.

Male vanity and ego are such delicate things and so difficult to deal with that Nesbitt's public admission that he has resorted to transplants will be a relief to many follicly challenged chaps and indeed their wives. He has brought it all out in the open, although you'd have to be very slow on the uptake not to notice that a few months ago his forehead was almost hairless right up to the crown and now it's not.

He's a great ambassador for whoever gave him his new thatch because he looks a million times better. He says it has changed his life and he has been battling with his obsession with his rapidly diminishing locks for years.

Bruce Willis has gone the other way and still looks hot, but then he is not exactly lacking in self-confidence. If it really matters to a man that he is thinning on top then there's nothing wrong in dealing with it like Nesbitt did.

The alternative for many is a wig, but men aren't good with wigs. They seldom take care of them and the "rugs" end up all matted and greasy, which is not a good look. Even on a handsome guy such as Burt Reynolds, a wig can become the dominant feature. It's much easier for women who suffer hair loss, as they seem to know how to look after their hairpieces and make them look natural. Men either don't seem to want to spend the time or don't have the know-how.

Any number of reasons cause hair loss - from stress, to iron or thyroid deficiencies - and with some it's simply hereditary. Wives and girlfriends often don't notice, or if they do, they don't care, but it can contribute to all sorts of self-esteem problems and erode confidence.

So if it's a case of dealing with a moody old crosspatch who spends hours in the bathroom staring at his reflection, or dragging him by his remaining follicles to a specialist, I'd go for the latter. Men are notoriously difficult to persuade to visit the doctor for anything, which is why so many prostate cancer cases go undetected for so long and cholesterol is allowed to carry on furring up their arteries till it's too late to do anything about it.

If it's a problem, then show him a picture of Nesbitt before and after and let him make his own decision.

Contemporary art changes its tune

Twenty years ago, it was common for someone to stand in front of a piece of contemporary art such as a Picasso painting and proclaim loudly that their five-year-old could do better than that. The same sort of person could be heard saying that "I may not know much about art but I know what I like".

Art had to be recognisable, oil on canvas or a water-colour rendition of a landscape. I've heard well-known artists describe such works as "furniture painting".

It used to enrage people like Julia Peyton-Jones, director of The Serpentine Gallery, who says it doesn't happen very much these days, largely due to the influence of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, the gallery's patron, who helped make their summer parties fashionable and introduce contemporary art to a wider audience.

We all now know Picasso was a genius and could in fact have turned out a painting that would have rivalled a Rembrandt or a Leonardo but chose to take his art in another direction.

The work of the latest Turner Prize is a new challenge to us all. Her winning entry is described as "sound art" and features an empty room, apart from three speakers playing its creator's voice singing a 16th-century Scottish lament.

Susan Philipsz, 45, is a sculptor or visual artist and says she is now creating sculptures in sound. The Guardian newspaper's art critic said he was moved to tears when he heard the winning entry and the Turner Prize jury said they admired the way Philipsz's work "provokes both intellectual and instinctive responses and reflects a series of decisions about the relationship between sound and sight".

So we may scoff and laugh and speak about the Emperor's New Clothes but I certainly won't be joining in because I think the controversial prize has forced people to think about art and its purpose. Just think of the attention that Damien Hirst's pickled cows or Tracey Emin's unmade bed attracted. The two artists are practically old-school these days, so clearly it doesn't take all that long for what appear to be outrageous ideas to become the norm.

At a time when the UK is facing savage cuts to arts education maybe Sir Nicholas Serota has a point when he says that this is a good time for art to be "heard".

A call for respect and responsibility with wildlife

Can there be anything more terrible than being attacked and killed by a shark while enjoying a relaxing holiday swim in some idyllic location, or indeed witnessing such an attack? It was a ghastly death for the 70-year-old German tourist who died after being attacked in shallow waters at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday.

Listening to the reports of shocked witnesses, it struck me that far too many people are utterly unprepared to face the ravages of nature or wild animals or mammals. Perhaps we are all becoming too detached from reality, too used to watching nature and wildlife programmes on television or unrealistic adventure movies where the hero escapes scot-free from a tussle with a tiger or some fantastic fantasy creature. We've forgotten what it's like to live side by side with nature.

Every summer we read about some poor student who has gone swimming at a dried-up water hole somewhere in the depths of Africa and is attacked by a crocodile, or couples on safari ignoring the warnings of guides and finding themselves in the path of a charging elephant or buffalo.

How shocked we were when the wildlife presenter Steve Irwin was killed by a barb from a sting ray six years ago. Larger than life, the courageous Australian was more aware than anyone of the dangers, so if he could die, with his depth of knowledge and with the precautions he took, then the rest of us should take heed.

Thankfully, these attacks are relatively rare, which is why they make terrifying headlines when they do happen. The lesson we should all be taking away from these unfortunate deaths is that we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our children and not get too close to wild creatures. They are not described as wild for nothing.

The rugby player look that refreshes

England’s victory over Samoa in the dying moments of the Dubai Sevens, the popular three-day rugby festival, was particularly thrilling – but everybody was commenting on the lurid orange-and-red kit. Apparently, the coach made them wear the reserve “strip” as a sort of punishment after their pathetic performance against Portugal in the first round. I thought they looked gorgeous, actually. There’s something eminently watchable about a muscular and suntanned young man running about in brightly coloured Lycra, like a sparkling Sunrise drink of orange juice and grenadine. Very refreshing.