Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nirpal Dhaliwal- Watch Part Seven

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six.

It's been three weeks since the last NDW. Not because Nirpal hasn't said anything stupid in the meantime, on the 20th of September he wrote about how nobody can manage their money and asking whether gay Asians really exist or are an urban myth. On the 27th we were given:

Forget pretty boys, women want real men ; CITY LIVES
Evening Standard (London); Sep 27, 2006; NIRPAL DHALIWAL; p. 37

CITY highfliers are, we are told, increasingly spending their massive bonuses on cosmetic treatments. Once renowned as buccaneering financial conquistadors, these former "masters of the universe" are now just preening divas - no longer proud to wear the battle scars of long hours and intense pressure on their faces, and desperate to have their wrinkles and eye-bags surgically removed.

The death-knell of modern manhood sounded several years ago, when the press printed shots of the septuagenarian Clint Eastwood in swimming trunks, his calves ropey with varicose veins. The last real man in the Western hemisphere was on his way out, leaving the way clear for bland and pretty, preppie clones to rule in his wake. The likes of George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon now dominate a landscape previously owned by the hard-bitten likes of Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman.

A lot of men are incredibly neurotic about their looks. They spend heaps of money on clothes, and increasing numbers use anabolic steroids to bulk up their physiques. The glorification of David Beckham was an expression of this cultural phenomenon and it did him no favours. Now that his talent is fading, the world will only pay attention to the details of his private life and his extravagant clown outfits. His looks will fade too, but he never cultivated the charisma that would transcend his appearance.

In the absence of football, he'll be famous for being a ludicrously attired, squeaky voiced narcissist, married to a fashion addicted hat-stand. I shiver thinking of how he'll look in a decade, having quite possibly submitted to surgery in the misguided hope of staying beautiful.

Some blame the mainstreaming of gay culture for the present situation. But the biggest reaction against the over-feminised male is among gay men, who've always fancied straight guys more than bent ones - hence their lust for builders, cops and firemen.

Soho is full of chunky, bearded "bears" wanting nothing to do with sissy, diet-obsessed queens. Gays have always loved the traditional, unaffected masculinity of straight men, and never wanted to change them.

What modern men have forgotten is that attitude is much more attractive than looks.

Watching The Shield with a girlfriend of mine, she couldn't stop drooling over the ugly, bald and pug-faced lead character, a tough- guy cop whose whole persona is one big middle finger to the rest of the world. My friend's a dyke and secure enough in her feminism to admit that guys who don't care what women think of them are a turn- on.

Men need to remember that their looks don't matter. The chronic neediness of most women means they'll forgive a hell of a lot in a man. Even the multimillionaire Kate Moss finds herself besotted with a ghostly, sexless, walking corpse like Pete Doherty.

A man's character, however flawed and wayward, is what ultimately captures a woman's imagination. Unlike the City boys opting for facelifts, Doherty at least knows that vanity isn't the way to a girl's heart.

Thank God for Nirpal to keep me up to date with gay culture. I especially like the bit about the Village People.

But the real 'money article' is this one from last Sunday's Sunday Times.

Man about it
The Sunday Times (London); Oct 1, 2006; Nirpal Dhaliwal; p. 19

Father figure, egomaniac, confused Superman - what does modern manhood mean to you?

A good look in the mirror, says Nirpal Dhaliwal

Well, at least he's honest and upfront about it...

The hardest thing for a man to do is look in the mirror. We're so egomaniacal and thin-skinned, we can't do it with any honesty in case we glimpse our flaws, vulnerabilities and basic ridiculousness. We tend to exaggerate the bits of ourselves we like best,

Like our cocks, eh Nirpal?

and end up seeing a range of fragmented and warped reflections that never add up to a complete picture.

Men simply cannot admit to feeling vulnerable or imperfect, though it's the most ordinary and universal human experience. This makes us do a lot of stupid things.

Such as write generalising articles about 'the male condition' for national newspapers. See NDWs 1-6.

My dad recently had four angina attacks in one day, but didn't go into hospital until the fourth one. He didn't want to admit there was anything wrong with him and kept shrugging them off. So he ended up suffering four times the damage to his heart than he should have and left himself open to a heart attack that could have killed him.

Compare and contrast with the last article. One minute men are too fey and queeney, the next Nirpal wants them to own their emotions. This is much the same as how he likes his women, strong, dynamic, but completely subservient to him.

Men rebel against their vulnerability. I think that a lot of my jerk behaviour since I got married -my boorishness, infidelity and emotional aloofness -has been a reaction to how much I need my wife.

Well, I suppose it's a different tack to take to those that blame their wives for making them have affairs. "Uhh... uhh... uhhh... I love my wife! I love my wife!" "That's nice sir but I'm your secretary."

She's my greatest ally, a rock who has supported my career and helped me deal with the loss of my best friend. But I've never been able to admit it. So I've behaved with selfish recklessness in a dumb attempt to prove that I'm some stand-alone maverick who can get by on his own. It's pathetic.

I presume an 'It's/I'm' typo was missed here by the ST editor? Still, if he's getting close to admitting responsibility for treating his wife badly then we can all cheer his personal growth.

My dad's the same. He can't admit to his failings or any kind of debt to anyone else. That's why I think my attitude is learnt behaviour.

OK, he's switched blame from his wife to his Dad. So close...

I had therapy a while back, which helped me to talk more openly, but it didn't cure me. I think I should have some more.

Oh puh-leaze! You're in therapy right now and you know it.

It's amazing how difficult it is for men to talk freely and honestly. We never want to reveal anything of ourselves -and, consequently, we don't figure ourselves out. We invented football because talking about football would provide us with a great way of talking about nothing. When I had a season ticket, I'd watch guys who'd sat next to each other for two hours every week for months, but didn't even know each other's name. The only conversation they made was the odd comment about the match.

So... That's surely not that good a way of talking about nothing then?

If they were women, they would've known every detail about each other after a couple of matches. Football matches look like explosions of male bonding, but they're full of isolated blokes who sing in unison, but barely know each other.

The older I get, the more suspicious I am of strong, silent types.

Odd. That's not the impression you give here. And let's not forget how this all started.

I don't like gossipy men one bit, but guys who are reticent give me the creeps.

'I don't like men who talk. I don't like men who don't talk. Now do you understand why it's difficult being me?'

Guys who can't talk are the ones who will lose it in a big way when all the unprocessed junk in their heads finally boils over. They're the ones who'll walk into the office one day with a shotgun and start blowing people away. Afterwards, their surviving co-workers will say: "We didn't know he was nuts. He was just really quiet."

On the other hand, Tony Blair just won't shut up, and you're claiming he's sane?

Despite all the distorted images we present to ourselves -that we're way smarter, stronger, more confident and independent than we really are -somehow women tend to figure us out. They can see through the bluster and silences to something more real and rounded. I don't know how they do it. It must be telepathy or intuition.

Or maybe it's just that you're a crap liar?

But it gives women the patience to stick with us -and gives us an opportunity to finally get a handle on ourselves.

And so we're back to where we started, Nirpal getting a grip on himself...

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