Love me gender: Chaps in tune with their masculinity


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The Independent Online

Bear with me, there will (hopefully) be a point. There is an old joke about two Jewish men in Germany in the 1930s. One is reading a Jewish newspaper, the other a Nazi propaganda rag. “Why are you reading that?” the first asks the second. “Well,” the man replies, “if I look at your paper, all I read about is persecution and poverty. If I look at this, all I read about is how we control the world.”

This, at times, is what it feels like to be a man. Sure, we still live in a society that requires feminism (the pay gap, the glass ceiling, equal representation and so on). But the flipside is that women talk about these matters, share experiences, have great writers of great books on the subject, while we blokes get pubs, sports, and “significantly increasing” suicide rates.

I promised you a point and here it is: a few years ago a fellow in his early thirties called Dominic Stichbury was thinking along these lines and wondering how he could create a “way to get men together in a different sense”. His solution was Chaps Choir. “I wanted to create an all-male choir that felt fresh,” he says. “My interest was musical (this is not a social experiment), but the impact on the 60 members has been profound.”

With more than 100 men on a waiting list, Stichbury has decided to hold a series of “open workshops” for anyone wanting to experience the Chaps effect in person (see for details). “We will be celebrating men and trying to undo a bit of that narrative that we are all a bit rubbish,” Stichbury says. Surely that in itself is something worth singing about.

Hold the popcorn!

If you’re not all pop-up immersive experienced out, you might be interested in a “unique” event taking place in London in a few weeks’ time. Sensory Cinema, “curated by professor and neurogastronomist Dr Charles Spence”, will offer the audience the chance to “see, smell, taste, and feel cinema as never before”.

Essentially, you will be sitting and watching Gravity (24 June) or X Men: Days of Future Past (25 June) while a series of corresponding flavours and sensations “inspired by the premium e-cigarette brand Blu UK”, will be offered to you to vape or eat to more fully appreciate the cinematic experience. Or something.

Am I the only one round here old enough to remember the “Feel-a-Round Cinema” in 1977’s Kentucky Fried Movie?

My low self of steam

Back in August last year, my colleague John Rentoul compiled a Top 10 list of eggcorns (“a word or phrase mistakenly used in a seemingly logical way for another word or phrase: eg, to all intensive purposes”) for this paper’s magazine. Now I’m not saying that America’s National Public Radio has gone 10 better, but last week it compiled its favourite 100 of “the gaffes that spread like wildflowers”.

However, even though there are those who think that journalism is going to hell in a handbag, you’ve got another thing coming if you believe that to illicit a response I would suggest it might pass mustard for me to reproduce any of said eggcorns here. Not even a couple to wet your appetite. I think we can all agree that this sort of plagiarism needs to be nipped in the butt. Is it legal? That’s a mute point and I wouldn’t want to be an escape goat.

The long farewell

The last time a senior editor left Independent Towers, a handful of us nipped off to the pub and she might or might not have put £50 behind the bar. They do things rather differently in other sections of the newspaper industry.

News reaches me that The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger is marking the end of his tenure as editor with not one, not two, but six leaving bashes. And even though he was lauded in the pub on his last day, the big event is this Tuesday night with 1,500 people expected at “Alan’s Farewell Reception” in London’s Roundhouse.

Entrance, in what may or may not be a clever and ironic nod to the traditional gold watch, is by gold wristband only.  

What price provenance?

An amusing if inadvertent comment on the value of contemporary pop music from the auction world: this month, Bonhams of London is offering “Chris Martin’s very first acoustic guitar” for £7,000-£9,000.

Later this year, Julien’s in Los Angeles will sell a 1962 Gibson guitar once owned by John Lennon. Its sale “could top the $965,000 record set in 2013”, according to Darren Julien, the auction house’s owner. What was that again about imagine no possessions?

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

The fault can not all be Sepp Blatter’s,

His skill wasn’t financial matters,

But all this disruption,

And talk of corruption,

Leaves the beautiful game’s rep in tatters.