As we age, there are certain uncomfortable physical realities that, however hard we may try, we cannot manage to avoid. That apparently superabundant energy of our youth sadly diminishes (so that staying-out on the town till 3am loses much of its previous gaudy allure, especially when the kids decide to wake up and be demanding an hour earlier than usual), mysterious aches and pains occur in unusual bodily locations with irritatingly increasing regularity, and it's time for this blog to address the important (but often neglected by we "bad-ass" bass players...not that I'm personally in any way "bad-ass", but I'm assured there are many of my fellow low-frequency muso's who fit that description) issue of dermatological care.
This is not, I must stress, to say that I've gone all "David Beckham", and am now an avid peruser of GQ magazine for essential styling and "product" (aka greasy chemical sludge to slap on your hair because you've nothing better to do with your time or money) advice. No, I'm still a proud alumnus of the "Billy-Bob Thornton International Academy of Grooming and Deportment". Additionally, an amusing little bout of impetigo, which decided to do the rare thing and mutate into full-on lymphadenitis left me looking like an extra from a no-budget zombie film for a couple of weeks. Which was nice. (The artist's impression - by a terrible artist, no prizes for guessing who - on the left gives a reasonable idea of the general effect). So I'm the last person who'd want to discuss the relative merits of assorted facial scrubs/balms/lotions/gels/loads of expensive cack for foolish people who believe glossy advertising pseudo-science.
No, this is all about the skin on your hands. Something it's extremely easy to neglect, but what with the seasonal weather bringing that delightful combination of cold, wind & rain, and the "musicians' lifestyle" often not being conducive to getting plenty of rest & recuperation, dry, cracked skin on the knuckles and around the fingernails can be painful - affecting practice and performance. (This is even more of a problem for those of us with small children, who find themselves washing their hands so often we start to wonder if we're developing OCD).
Ok, so the first step is obvious - wear gloves to keep your hands all snug 'n' warm, even when nobody else is so you might look a bit odd. Heck, you're a musician, buy black leather ones, they're always cool, so who cares what other people think? Or you could choose to wear only one glove, with lots of bright, shiny...errr...maybe not.
Anyway, in the past, I've hated using moisturising creams because they've always left my hands feeling far too greasy - hardly ideal just before a gig (then you're left trying to wipe the excess off on your jeans, and when that doesn't work you've got to nip off and wash your hands again, only now you have odd white stains down your jeans, which, depending precisely where you wiped your moisturiser-laden fingers could be deeply embarrassing...). But now I've found something that seems to do the trick, but doesn't affect my carefully-cultivated fingertip callouses, and manages not to smear itself all over the woodwork and strings...
So what is this wonder product that receives the "Mid-Life Bassist Seal of Approval"?
Step forward, Neutrogena "fast-absorbing hand cream (light texture)". (Yeah, ok, so most folk out there probably already knew about this stuff and use it on a regular basis - cut me some slack, huh? It's taken me a ridiculous number of years to finally come across something that works). It's great, and quite cheap, too, thankfully.
And I'm not just saying this because, by a bizarre and freakish coincidence, there happens to be a "senior scientist" at Neutrogena called "Andy Gilmour" (no relation whatsoever - plus I'm sure that, unlike myself, he's got a string of useful qualifications and, unless he's unfathomably profligate, a far greater degree of fiscal security). Nor do I receive any form of payment for anything recommended here...not that I wouldn't mind being a corporate whore, though. I have no objections to buying myself a more comfortable unhappiness, so in my current situation if they offered, I'd be stupid not to...any takers? no? Ah well.
Which just about wraps it up for this time. Except to say that in Edinburgh today I tried-out what is unquestionably the "Worst Bass Guitar Ever Made", but I'm not saying what it is yet...that's for next week.
And there'll be more regular posting now that I don't look as if half my neck had been replaced by Brian Blessed's.
You have been warned...