30 October 2011

Good morning to you all. We’ve had a good week although we’re still in recovery from the exertions necessitated by the Mwiri Reunion which was held last Saturday.

In the mid-60s, as many of you will know, Penny’s father took a job teaching at Busoga College, a boys’ boarding school in Uganda. The Butlers were out there for two years during which time Penny endured the educational attention of the sisters at the Loreto Convent in Eldoret, Kenya.

DessertsEvery couple of years many of the former teachers and students resident in the UK gather for a reunion and at the last reunion two years ago, in the face of deafening silence when volunteers were sought to host the next one, Penelope foolishly (?) raised her hand and offered her services.

So, last Saturday the 2011 reunion was held at the Byfield Village Hall and a huge success it was. Penelope had been in preparation mode for about two weeks with a huge push over the last couple of days. It was anticipated that as many as fifty might attend so, not surprisingly, Pen decided to cater for two hundred and fifty. Equally naturally, she received not a jot of assistance from me and still managed to provide a feast, the likes of which the Mwiri reunions have never experienced in the past. Huge vats of Spicy African stew and enormous pans of chorizo lasagne with garlic bread and salad provided the main choices. Several hundred sausages were on hand for those who wished to supplement their stew but it was really in the dessert department where the celebration excelled. There were at least seven to choose from including Bavarian apple tart, strawberry summer cake, pecan pie, etc. (And that’s not to mention the several thousand sandwiches and a carrot cake the size of a small continent which constituted “tea” once the lunch was finished. Funnily enough, we never did get to the scones and cream tea).

Mwiri Reunion 2011

The day was a huge success and Penelope, quite rightly, received numerous compliments both during and since the event. We’re still eating the leftovers!

This coming Tuesday marks the beginning of Movember which I know will be familiar to some of you and completely unfamiliar to probably the majority. It’s an international charitable initiative which aims to raise money for research into the two most common cancers affecting men – prostate and testicular cancer. This year I will be taking part and I hope that you might visit my personal Movember page at http://mobro.co/GregStragnell and possibly consider making a donation to a worthy cause. If each of my friends were to donate £5 it would raise the extraordinary sum of £15!


You can read more about the charity at http://www.movember.com but, in short:


During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.

On Movember 1st, guys register at Movember.com with a clean-shaven face and then for the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valor by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Partés held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

The Movember Effect: Awareness & Education, Survivorship, Research

The funds raised in the UK support the number one and two male specific cancers – prostate and testicular cancer. The funds raised are directed to programmes run directly by Movember and our men’s health partners, The Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research. Together, these channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programmes in line with our strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

Now, I will confess up front that I am breaking the rules, number one of which is to “Start November 1st clean shaven.” Well, since I’ve had a moustache since the age of about eight, I am not about to get rid of it. Indeed, I’d be lost without it as would Ms Playchute. As you women will probably know, kissing a man without a moustache can be quite a disappointment:

MISS D. That—that being kissed [with a rush] by a man who didn’t wax his moustache was—like eating an egg without salt.

— Rudyard Kipling, Soldiers Three (1888)

The book had been written in the age when long black stockings and long black gloves had been the height of pornographic fashion, when “kissing a man without a moustache was like eating an egg without salt.” The seductive and priapic major’s moustaches had been long, curly, and waxed.

— Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point (1928)

Above all no profane comparisons he said. Perhaps he was thinking of the kiss without a moustache or beef without mustard.

— Samuel Beckett, Molloy (1951)

Un baiser sans moustache, disait-on alors, c’est comme un oeuf sans sel: j’ajoute: et comme le Bien sans Mal, comme ma vie entre 1905 et 1914.

— Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mots (1964)

You know what the Victorians said? I read it in the Daily Mail. They said kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt!

— Philip Pullman, The Broken Bridge (1990)


Not that I would know, of course, never having kissed a man with or without a moustache (well, at least not with any degree of passion) but I am assured that it’s true.

MoustacheSince I am starting with a fifty-two year old moustache (and no matter how hard I try it never seems to grow to an extent that I can wax or curl its ends), I will also be breaking rule number three: no beards or goatees, since that is exactly what I shall be doing – growing what I hope will become a natty goatee. Still, in spite of my breaking two of the three rules, I hope you will still visit my Movember page (where I shall post some photos of the goatees’ progress through the month) and make a contribution. Just click the Donate to Me button.

Some people run marathons to raise funds for charity; others cycle from Land’s End to John of Groats. I’m sure that many of you will find it entirely appropriate that my charitable efforts involve the strenuous activity of not shaving my chin for a month!

And, of course, feel free to participate yourselves. If you are looking for inspiration you can access the Movember Style Guide here and women, you could cut out one of these examples and tape it to your upper lip if you’d like to participate. (I think the “After Eight” could easily be termed the “Porn Star” moustache).

Think of not only the good cause you will be assisting but also how snazzy and cool you will look and feel with a moustache of your own!

Love to you all,