Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Don't fret my bald brethren, we can hold our heads high

Eamonn McCann, Belfast Telegraph

I wish they'd change that photograph of me over there. I am far more presentable than that, being bald. The page designers might have reckoned they were doing me a favour, assuming that baldness is an embarrassment.

That fellow Rooney, who plays football for the Evil Ones, encouraged this sort of thinking when he had hairs transplanted onto his head from a region of his body where not many people would notice their absence. He's probably staring into a mirror right this minute admiring the nap of his suede skull.

Rooney's new hair will 'grow naturally'. So it says in the Daily Express, but even so it might be true.

I'm not sure he should want it to grow. If the hair ever reaches more than an inch long, defenders will start grabbing it by the fistful and jerking hard every time he scampers past them.

He should take cognisance of the warning of posh Tory bovver-boy Boris Johnston that anyone coming to the London Olympics without tickets should "beware scalpers".

This consideration will not have applied to the rug-rats of non-contact sports, such as Graham Gooch, Shane Warne or Jimmy White.

There's a lot of anger against Rooney in the bald community. He is seen as deserting his own at a time when the bald identity is under new threat.

Everywhere you look, there are faux-bald fraudsters with shaven heads. We don't recognise them as members of the bald community. They are not proclaiming an identity, but insultingly conforming to a passing fad.

When I was young, there was only one proudly-bald famous man in the world - Yul Brynner. Nowadays, we have the likes of Michael Stipe as role models for the rising generation.

You see photographs of REM in their early days and Stipe looks so unsexy he could be a member of the TUV. Now he's come clean, he vibrates with a glowing sensuality.

REM come from Athens. Athens, Georgia, that is, not Athens the seat of ancient civilisation and cradle of the coming pan-European rising against IMF autocracy.

Stipe is a great one for the deft allusion and may have formed REM as a tribute to the Athenian band of bald philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. (Is there a hint of this in Losing My Religion?)

It's an indication of the continued virulence of anti-bald bigotry that others in a similar situation still cannot bare the truth.

Banjo player with Dublin showband U2, the Edge, hasn't taken his Berlusconi-style bandana off since the last time they made a decent record. Question of character, I'd say.

Seinfeld originator, Curb Your Enthusiasm star and bald icon Larry David, summed it up: "Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man - there's your diamond in the rough."

Long time ago, in a Dublin Sunday music column, I named four well-known Southern citizens who wore wigs - a senator, a union leader, an actor and Joe Dolan - and suggested they form a group called The Four Tops. On the afternoon of publication, one of the quartet phoned me in distress. None of his children had known he was bald.

Ever wondered why you never see Nicolas Sarkozy in a wind-tunnel?

Baldness is hereditary, which means that the trait wouldn't have persisted had it not conferred an evolutionary advantage.

There is convincing evidence that early female humans may have preferred bald men because they were less likely to be infested with parasites - a factor which there is no reason to believe is no longer operative.

The significant correlation between baldness and high levels of the male hormone testosterone has long been recognised by science. Now there's more.

Top researchers at the prestigious school of medicine at the University of Washington have recently concluded on the basis of a study of 2,000 men aged between 40 and 47 that higher levels of testosterone - and therefore of baldness - may be associated with lower risk of prostate cancer.

Dr Alison Ross, of Cancer Research UK, has cautioned that further research will "hinge on asking men between the ages of 40 and 70 to be honest when asked at what age they started going bald".

They won't get much help from the Edge there. Another thing Rooney should remember is that only bald men can hear snowflakes.

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