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Why men don't care about their hair anymore.

Aled Blake wants to know - what's happened to the humble comb? Is its demise a symbol of an evolutionary step back? THE other day I bought a comb. It's probably the first comb I've had since I was about 12. It's brown, it cost pounds 1 and it's plastic. The reason I mention this piece of triviality is its relative unusualness these days.

I'm probably the one person in my group of friends to own a comb, let alone use one. When I came home from town proudly brandishing my comb in the air, I was derided and questioned on my intellect and sanity.

Like most great ideas, I was inspired by a conversation down the pub, a conversation where it was decided that nobody uses combs any more and that I would pioneer their use again.

A generation of men is growing up without using a comb now - a generation of uncombed heads. Many teenagers - chavs, Goths, emos - wouldn't know what a comb was if you smacked him over the head with one.

They are much the poorer for not having the knowledge of combing, a knowledge, that like dry stone walling and so many other traditional British skills and customs, is dying.

How has this happened in such a short space of time? It was only 15 years ago that Rick Astley, Phillip Schofield and members of Bros clearly all had well combed hair.

You could argue going out without combing your hair is a bit like not ironing your shirt. Although you'd probably be wrong, because it's not quite the same, is it?

The modern-day man has no need for a comb. All he needs to style his hair is a skilled pair of hands and 10 knowledgeable fingers, which know how to mould and caress his mane into the shape he loves (along with his favoured product of choice of course).

A straw poll in the office revealed that most men do not comb their hair, nor do they own one. Although one colleague admitted to combing his hair and likened it to straightening out all the "irrationalities and confusions of the day" and said combing one's hair is the one thing that separates man from gorilla.

Does this mean men are taking a backward evolutionary step? I would argue yes, the loss of the comb as a fashion accoutrement is turning us all into monkeys - and so would my colleague. In fact we are agreed that we may as well give it all up now and go and live in the jungle.

I used to comb my hair every day when I was younger. My parting would change from side to side, to middle depending on my mood, my bouffant shaped delicately in the hope it would hold all day.

And I remember watching my dad take his comb out of his back pocket to touch up on things as the day wore on and thinking, "One day, I'll be doing that".

But I never have. Instead it's either been shaved off entirely or had a load of product slopped on to keep it in check, with never a comb in sight.

So, the comb has passed on. Unused by a new band of spiky-haired males, not wanting to make their hair look too sculpted, it has, for many, become an unwanted item in our grooming armoury. These men want to look as if they've not taken any time on their hair and will take hours making sure that look comes off.

We should make time to mourn the end of the comb, it was a part of us for so long so we should not discard it so easily.

In a way, it reflects the changes in society that have occurred down the generations.

Once, every man wore a hat or cap when he left the front door of his home; if someone my age did that now he'd be thought of as some sort of an idiot if he was to wear a trilby as he strode into the office.

I must admit to being attracted by the idea of wearing a trilby but I am aware that I might not make it into work alive if I did.

One can only hope that such venomous anger is never directed towards the comb, and more importantly, its users.

So far I have not used my comb with a great amount of frequency. It has been brought out at moments of crises in an effort to bring things under control.

But I hope my pioneering work will inspire others to join me in keeping the comb dream alive.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 10, 2007
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