The skinny sausage

Stroppy was noticeably thinner than the other sausages

I’m pretty thin.

OK, I’m smaller than most.

Who am I kidding? I’m probably the skinniest man I’ve ever met – maybe.

Of course, being so thin, I’ve been on the receiving end of many skinny-themed remarks over the years.

I thought I’d heard them all…

I constantly find myself jumping over cracks in the pavement for fear of disappearing.

I wear armbands when I’m on the toilet so I don’t fall in and drown.

On a windy day, if you can’t find me, try looking up. I’m probably floating away.

I have an eating disorder.

I… Wait… What was that last one again?

I can’t decide what’s worse, the fact that someone would instinctively think I have an eating disorder from looking at me, or that this diagnosis has come from a builder-cum-lorry driver who clearly fancies his chances as a doctor-cum-physician.

You, sir, should stick to your day job.

For anyone who knows me, this will probably be hard to believe, but between 14-16 years old I was actually one of the tallest in my year group. Of course, there were always the few proverbial ‘bean poles’ that towered over the rest of us like, well, bean poles, obviously.

Still, I was still pretty tall for my age.

At 16 I weighed around nine stone (126lbs/57kg) and looked down on most at just under six-feet-tall. The point I’m trying to make is that I was happy with my height and general build.

As far as I was concerned I was growing into a man sausage (sounds well).

But I wasn’t; I wasn’t growing at all.

Now, at 24, I weigh around nine stone (126lbs/57kg) and still find myself looking down on most (children, midgets and people with no legs) at just under six-feet-tall. I am a man-child.

This confuses me. It’s not like I don’t eat. Actually, I eat regularly. I love my food.

What I don’t love is the pregnant sticky-out belly that I get when I’ve had one too many Nutri-Grain bars. I also don’t love how my parents buy me Nutri-Grain bars faster than I can eat them. I don’t even like Nutri-Grain bars. Buy me something useful – like armbands, for when I’m on the toilet.

So at 57kg, admittedly I’m underweight (and by some way according NHS guidance). Perhaps I haven’t managed my diet properly. Perhaps the NHS guidance was put together by a team of builder-cum-lorry drivers? Maybe not, but all I know is I’m fine. I feel fine. I feel healthy.

I do not suffer from an eating disorder.

However, eating disorder charity Beat predicts that over 1.6million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.

Naturally, I hear ‘eating disorder’ and immediately my mind skips to anorexia and bulimia. I’m sure I’m not on my own here – and rightly so, they are serious conditions after all. It is, however, also worth noting that there are other forms of eating disorder, such as binge eating disorder and EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). All just as serious as bulimia and anorexia.

In 2008 former deputy prime minister John Prescott revealed he had been living with bulimia, a revelation that engaged the media and raised awareness for eating disorders in men.

Fantastic. The media jump on the bandwagon; everyone’s excited about raised awareness for male eating disorders. But is anyone going to mention that it’s probably the media’s fault that many people believed only women were susceptible in the first place?

Do we not recall the relentless push for everyone to be size zero, and thus, about as attractive as the prospect of putting a toenail up your nose?

No?

I guess I’m just a skinny sausage with a fat chip on my shoulder…

The sick, sick sausage

Stroppy's liver was less than happy with him

I hate to alarm you – but last weekend I was so sick my friend called an ambulance.

Don’t worry, I’m fine.

If you had asked me at the time – I was going to die.

But I wasn’t.

Actually, I was feeling the effects of the night before. You might call this a hangover. I don’t. I call it THE END OF THE WORLD!

We’ve all been there, the morning after.

The initial realisation that, yes, you are actually conscious and, yes, your face hurts (and you’re going to die, obviously).

This is usually followed by attempting the arduous hangover tasks of opening your eyes and then, you know, moving. I’m not saying that the execution of these tasks is always perfect, but it’s the taking part that counts, right?

Wrong.

When there’s a race between your legs and your belly – your legs wanting to get to the bathroom and your belly wanting to throw up before you get there – it’s definitely the winning that counts. Unfortunately for me belly was slightly faster, causing me to have one of those moments where you realise: “uh-oh, I’m not going to make it.” So for me the fun and games all started at the kitchen sink.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a drinker, so a hangover isn’t remotely new to me; many a morning have I woken up and wished that I hadn’t drank the night before. But this time I couldn’t even remember the night before.

This was no ordinary hangover.

If Hitler was a hangover, this was Hitler.

I found myself unable to carry out some of the basics. Standing up is pretty basic – I just couldn’t do it! I had no balance whatsoever (Maybe my drink was spiked, who knows?).

Then there was the throwing up – good grief the throwing up. I won’t go into too much detail on this, but let’s just say it was messy and frequent. We’ll leave that there.

Luckily for me, I live with one of my best friends, who looked after me and did whatever it is that people can do for you in this situation – which was basically just watch me throw up. But still, I appreciated it.

The nice lady from NHS direct decided that the ‘symptoms’ that I was showing weren’t normal and an ambulance was sent.

The paramedics checked me over and were happy enough that I would be fine. As far as I was concerned I was dying and we may as-well skip the ambulance and take me straight to the morgue.

As it turns out, after nine hours of hell, I physically couldn’t be sick anymore. I fell asleep and woke up several hours later with that ‘THANK GOD’ feeling that we all get after a hangover nap (in my case it was more a coma than a nap but I’ll let that slide).

It took a few days to get back to normality, but everything was fine.

But this isn’t the case for everyone – brace yourself, this is about to get depressing.

Across the UK people have developed all sorts of alcohol-related illnesses thanks to their drinking habits or drinking problems. Liver problems are the most common and can even lead to people needing new livers. The problem with this is that there aren’t enough organ donors compared to the amount of people actually looking for new organs. This doesn’t surprise me even a little bit, I’m sure that I’m not on my own in saying that I have no plans to register as an organ donor. However selfish this may seem, these body parts are mine, they are meant to be inside me. Not you.

Anyway, due to the shortage of donors, criteria has been put in place to help the ‘best-matched’ candidates receive the organs that are available. Patient details are loaded into a computer and matched up with the criteria.

Brilliant. But what about the people who aren’t considered as a ‘best match’ by the NHS Super Nintendo? What about the people who drink themselves silly through negligence or even through a genuine drinking problem? The harsh truth is that, in many cases, they die.

This is why it’s so important for us to look after ourselves. The attitude that the NHS seems to have adopted is one of ‘if you don’t look after yourself, we won’t look after you either.’ Whether or not this attitude is justified is up for debate but it highlights the responsibility we have to look after ourselves. There is only so much that charities, like Drinkaware and Alcohol Concern, can do – although both websites are handy if you do think you have a drinking problem.

So, it’s pretty safe to say that, although I don’t have a drinking problem, I’m off the alcohol for the foreseeable future (just the thought of drinking makes my stomach curl).

I’ve had a chat with my liver and we’re friends again.

Secretly, though, I think it’s considering leaving me for another digestive system.

Oh and for anyone who’s still waiting for me to say it; yes, an ambulance came because I had a hangover…

The balding sausage

Coffee and caffeine shampoo are the same to Stroppy Sausage

Hair loss is something that men don’t like to talk about.

Strangely it’s up there on the ‘taboo conversations’ list with love songs, our feelings and problems with our danglers…

Thankfully, I have no ‘dangler problems’ to report, touch wood (pun intended).

As for hair loss, I wish I could say the same.
But I can’t.

At the risk of causing a collective cringe amongst men everywhere, I will be talking about it!

For my entire adult life I have had fairly long hair – I’m talking shoulder length at its longest. Basically, I’ve had a mop on my head for the past seven years. But now I, like so many others, have been struck by the early signs of the curse of hereditary hair loss.

Hereditary; the term scientists invented to allow the blaming of our parents for pretty much everything that is wrong with us.

Personally I’m not sure which is worse – the fact that I’m losing my hair because of my dad, or the fact that I’m going to look like him once I have! That’s not a swipe at my dad, by the way – I’m just saying that I don’t think I’m ready to look like a 63-year-old just yet!

My hair is only thinning right now so I’m still a few years away from this being too much of an issue – but I know what’s coming and I don’t like it.

It’s not even like I’m one of those guys who looks good with no hair. You just can’t pull it off when your face is as long, and your head is as bumpy, as mine (yet another thing that father has to answer for).

Now I’m at the stage where I mourn the loss of every single hair that falls out when I’m in the shower.

I’m staring at other men’s foreheads as they walk past just to compare our receding hairlines. If mine is worse, that man goes on the list (of people whose heads are getting shaved while they sleep).

Quite clearly hair loss isn’t my only problem; I’m obviously losing my marbles because of this.

So what can I do? Moan? Obviously.

But wait, there are other answers?

Many look to tackle hair loss by rubbing things into their head.

Regaine foam and Alpecin shampoo are two of the most popular choices and both claim to have success in the fight against hair loss.

Apparently ‘It has been proven that the activating caffeine ingredient in Alpecin shampoo can increase hair growth by slowing down the effects of hereditary hair loss.’

Right, OK. That’s what the bottle says. But, based on my continued use of this product, I believe I would have seen similar results from rubbing the leftovers of my morning coffee directly onto my head. My head would still receive caffeine, but I wouldn’t have to pay an extra £4.95 for the privilege (and my hair still wouldn’t be any thicker).

Granted, some people may be willing to pay £4.95 every few months in order to not smell like coffee. But I am not. Plus I like the smell of coffee. 1-0 to coffee.

Oh and you can’t drink shampoo. 2-0 to coffee.

Another option against hair loss is to have a hair transplant; a procedure that involves a lot of pain and a lot of money.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the procedure involves hair being taken from one side of the head and stuck into the other side (not the most eloquent way of putting it, I know).

Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney recently had this done, reportedly spending over £32,000 in the process. That’s around the same as 6,500 bottles of Alpecin – or 16,000 cups of coffee.

3-0 to coffee.

On the off-chance that I did have £32,000 down the back of my settee (which I don’t) I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t have a hair transplant – mainly because my pain threshold is just too low. Growing hair shouldn’t hurt, it hasn’t hurt for 23 years and I’m not about to let it!

By the way, if you think this procedure doesn’t sound painful, take a look at this video of Wayne Rooney during his hair transplant…

Luckily for Wayne Rooney, he hasn’t quite made it onto ‘the list’. Maybe after another £32,000.

As I wind my strop down, I’ll say it through gritted teeth; it seems there is literally no way of preventing hair loss without going to almost unreachable extremes.

Does anyone want their hair to fall out? No.

Should we accept that one way or another it’s going to happen? Probably.

Should people, with better hair than me, still be sleeping with one eye open?

Absolutely.

The beardless sausage

Stroppy Sausage can't grow a beard this Movember

So I’ll be starting with a confession; I am, in all honesty, not an actual sausage. Congratulations if you figured this out beforehand!

There is, however, one trait that I share with the sausage – the inability to grow facial hair. There, I said it. Not only does the sausage not have the ability to grow hair, but it also doesn’t have a face.

I have a face.

I also have a penis. So I’m a man, right? Right. Except I can’t grow facial hair and, while younger men sport some pretty impressive face-bushes, I can’t help but feel less manly (despite the giveaway penis).

Strangely, a hairy face is almost like a badge of honour for some, “look how manly I am”. If we’re measuring manliness by the amount of hair on a man’s face, my current affiliation to the male gender could be under threat.

When I was younger I always thought that when I grew up I’d have a beard, just because beards are what grownups have right? But I’m 23 now; I’ve been an adult for almost SEVEN years. I don’t have a beard.

Usually this is a complex that I push to the back of my mind and only surfaces when I have to look one of those younger, hairy, man-children in the face. But not this month…

This month is ‘No Shave November’ or ‘Movember‘. According to The Urban Dictionary, this is when men all over the world down razors for a month and get hairy. This is a definite no-win situation for me. Do I participate and become the laughing-stock of The Society of Bearded Gentlemen because I can’t grow facial hair? Or do I not participate and be seen as the Scrooge who didn’t take part?

What is a sausage to do!?

Whoever came up with this idea is not on my Christmas card list and has ruined my life for an entire month! For thirty days and thirty nights everything will be about facial hair and my lack thereof.

I can just see it now:

I’ll be in the pub waiting to get a drink and BOOM – the barman has a beard!

I’ll be at KFC. I’ll be tucking into a boneless banquet for one when I will glance upwards – and drop my chicken fillet in horror as I realise Colonel Sanders was a hairy-faced man.

The doorbell will ring. Mr Postman has a parcel for me? Thanks Mr Postman! I wonder if Mr Postman knows that his mammoth beard has its own post code. I wonder if Mr Postman knows that I hate him.

I could go on. I won’t, but on a side note you should probably take a good look at Colonel Sanders and try to convince me that he isn’t Rolf Harris.

That is definitely Rolf Harris.

Jokes aside, let’s be fair for a second. There is actually a serious side to ‘Movember’ that needs to be acknowledged; a lot of people are taking part in ‘Movember’ to help raise money for wonderful causes such as The Multiple Sclerosis Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mind and Everyman. ‘Movember’ was initially set up to raise money specifically for testicular cancer, but since this has spread to charities all over the world. I can’t help but break briefly from my strop to tip my cap to society for taking such a mass act of absolute stupidity and using it as a method to help raise money for charity. For this the human race is amazing.

So Movember could be a stroke of genius, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t have my beard.

Actually, should I be moaning about the fact that I can’t grow facial hair? Is facial hair even that great? I predict (based on nothing) that with a reasonably bushy beard, the face is at least 75% more flammable.

Apparently women aren’t particularly fond of facial hair either. Many women are supposedly refusing to get under the covers with their partners this month, causing many to rebrand ‘No Shave November’ as ‘No SEX November’, which funnily enough I will be participating in.

Therefore beards repel women and set fire to your face.

So why do I still want one!?

Good luck to everyone raising money for charity this Movember!