It is a strange and sad fact that three quarters of all suicides are male – every year 510,000 men around the world die from suicide. As well as supporting prostate cancer research, that is what the autumnal moustache growing trend, Movember, is all about: raising awareness as well as money and encouraging men to reach out for help. Founded in 2004, the men’s health phenomenon has gone truly global, creating a platform to inform and educate the world. That is why The Movember Motorcycle Club Team, consisting of Charley Boorman (The Bike Shed), Joel Clark (artist), Anton Welcome (maketh-the-man.com) Nick Ferman (Persol), and Peter Howarth (Show Media) have joined forces to help spread the word. Brought together by a love of motorcycles, beautiful eyewear and a desire to do their bit, they’ll all be ending November with moustaches and funds raised for the charity. Visit their Movember team page to donate. Introducing the team… What’s your name? Charley Boorman How would you describe your profession? It’s always a really hard one, I always feel slightly embarrassed… I would say actor, adventurer, writer, presenter, entrepreneur… What do you do? Lots of things, but today we’re here at The Bike Shed in Shoreditch, which is one of my more recent ventures – I’ve invested in it as the kind of place I’ve always wanted to find in London, a place where people interested in bikes can come and hang out together, have a meal, see some cool stuff in our store, and where custom-bike makers can display and sell their machines. What are you riding? I’ve got a Triumph Thruxton R – one of the new ones that the custom shop Down & Out have done a bit of work to. What do you like about it? Triumph have really caught my eye over the past couple of years, and they’ve just changed their whole fleet to these new models. They’ve gone very modern but have kept the spirit of tradition going. So their bikes look the way you’d expect a Triumph to look – like a Bonneville or a Thruxton, or the T100, all those beautiful bikes – and yet they’re contemporary, too. It’s a combination I really love, and in a way it’s really well represented by The Bike Shed, which has that kind of hipster, custom-y sort of vibe; I suppose a bit like a Shoreditch House or Soho House. Do you have a dream bike? I’m a bit of a fan of T.E. Lawrence and would love a Brough Superior. I think his record still stands, of going from his house in Devon or Dorset up to London; it’s still the fastest. What is it you like about riding? I grew up in the countryside in Ireland, and a friend of mine, Tommy Rochford, had a dirt bike and I kept hearing the noise. I kind of found him in my village, and that was it, really. Then we used to ride dirt bikes everywhere – I can’t believe I’ve been riding motorbikes for 40 years now; I started when I was about 9 or 10. I love the freedom, I love the anonymity. There’s a reason that Prince Harry and Prince William and so many well-known people ride motorbikes – I can understand the appeal for people like them, who probably find it difficult to move around freely. Riding can also be very therapeutic – when Ewan [McGregor] and I did Long Way Round together, I’d never really experienced those kinds of long journeys before. There’s something nice about going off on a long journey – you’ve got your helmet on and there are no distractions. And when you travel around the world on a motorbike, it’s very different. When you turn up in a small village in the middle of Africa or somewhere and you stop and you’re dusty and you take your helmet off, people are immediately attracted to you – there’s an empathy there, a connection, because you’re in their environment. Whereas if you turn up in your Land Rover and step out of your environment into theirs, there’s already a disconnect. And that’s something that’s really special about riding motorbikes. My only advice would be, if you’re out on a bike in Mongolia, don’t ask a guy on a horse or a camel for directions, because they’ll send you over the mountain pass on a goat trail. When did you last have a shave? I actually have a moustache and a goatee all year round, so when it comes to Movember, I’m a ‘movator’: I show people how they could look, give them encouragement and talk about tricks of the trade. So when, for example, they’ve got that little bit of bum fluff in the first couple of weeks, I’ll advise them to borrow their girlfriend’s mascara and just colour it in a bit. I’ve had facial hair for about 10 years. It started very vainly: I decided I had a little bit of a double chin here, so I started growing this little goatee bit to hide it. It’s fun, growing a moustache in November; people always worry what people are going to think at work if they’ve got this little bit of a moustache, and I always say that, actually, it’s brilliant, such a great ice-breaker. If you’re meeting new people, you can say, ‘I know I’ve got a bit of bum fluff here, but I’m actually growing it for Movember’, and people either say, ‘What’s that?’ or ‘I know!’, and then suddenly you’ve got this little bit of a conversation going, and maybe even a cheeky request for some money. Movember is committed to raising awareness about men’s mental health. Do you think that’s something that needs more attention? I think for men, definitely. If you look at women, they are very good at verbalising their emotions and feelings, whereas men are not. So you meet a mate at the pub and ask, ‘Are you alright?’, and he says, ‘Yeah, I’m fine, how are you?’, and then you just talk about whatever; but you never really say, ‘Are you really alright?’ There’s a reason there are more male suicides than female ones – I think the male suicide rate in the UK is more than three times that of the female - so there’s an issue there. A lot of it is down to communication. That’s what’s interesting about where Movember is going at the moment, because it really is about raising awareness of this issue. A guy should be able to ask a friend, ‘Are you really OK?’ And if we’re talking about motorbikes here, it’s so important to have a hobby. Whether it’s bikes or golf or sailing or horse riding or climbing or whatever it is that rocks your boat, you need something that you can be passionate about, because that’s the thing that will get you out; that’s the thing that will ‘movate’ you – which is what Movember talk about. They talk about ‘movation’, they talk about communication and they talk about looking after your friends. Thankfully, I think as men it’s becoming more acceptable to talk now, and we’re not living in a society where it’s all so laddish or blokey any more. We can connect more easily with our ‘feminine’ side. I do believe that Movember has helped people to talk about things. That’s a good thing, to chat. And if you do chat a bit more, it’s actually a bit more interesting. You get to know people better. What do you think of Persol? I’ve always been a bit of a fan, since I discovered Steve McQueen used to wear those fold-up ones. So it was through Steve McQueen’s glasses that I got into them, a long time ago. But McQueen’s style never suited my face, so I thought, if I can’t wear his glasses, I’ll wear something else that Persol make. I’ve been wearing their glasses for as long as I can remember – and I love them. I think they’re beautiful. They’re kind of defining; people always comment on them. Other brands are nice, but they don’t have that attention to detail, they don’t have that finish on the arm, which I really like. And Persol’s lenses are incredible. I spend a lot of time in Africa and in places where you get really big sun bounce from the ground, and if you’re not wearing glasses and you’re riding bikes for a long time in that sort of environment, you start to squint; then you get a headache and then you get tired. So it’s really important. I do these motorcycle tours every year, where I take a bunch of people to Africa and we go from Cape Town to Victoria Falls. It’s all off-road, all on big dirt bikes, and we stay in beautiful places. The one thing I always tell people is make sure you bring a really good pair of sunglasses. I always mention Persol and then, on the trips, people always say, ‘Oh Charlie, those are nice glasses.’
What’s your name? Joel Clark How would you describe your profession? I’m just beginning to describe myself an artist. What do you do? I use vinyl collage to make pictures and images, often on car doors and panels. My work is often motor-racing based, but it’s a mix of so many factors, styles and approaches: sculpture, pop art, collage, and there’s a hand-crafted, strong, bold, graphic, modern nature to it, because vinyl is a modern material. As long as you can stick vinyl to it, I will stick vinyl to it. I then put a clear coat of varnish over the finished piece to give it a lovely deep sheen, and to protect it so it can be cleaned. What are you riding? I’m riding a 1997 Suzuki TL1000S V-twin ‘Widowmaker’, as they were commonly known. I’ve had it now for two and a half years, not that long, and it’s my first V- twin. A friend of mine owned it and I swapped it for my Volvo estate. I don’t suppose there’s a bigger contrast in motor vehicles than between a Volvo estate and the TL1000. I bought it as a project bike to eventually try my own take on it. Which will happen, but in the meantime I’ve covered it in vinyl. We’ve bonded. I love it. Do you have a dream bike? A Honda RC30, or the brand-new Honda RCV. What is it you like about riding? Where do I start? Riding is all the clichés you ever hear about being by yourself, open road, freedom, which are all great things, so they shouldn’t really be clichés. But I am a speed freak, so I love going fast; and I love the noise my bike makes. My dad’s business is haulage, so I’ve always been around vehicles. I started working on farms in my holiday jobs when I was 14 upwards, so I learned to drive when I was 14 on a farm; I was driving tractors and trailers and all sorts long before I took my car test. We lived less than 10 miles from Silverstone, so we’d go there an awful lot, and, growing up in the countryside, as soon as you hit 16, a bike is your ticket to freedom. Everyone gets bikes, and we spent our entire youth riding everywhere, village to village, racing other little gangs of bikes. And once you’ve got that, it’s hard to let go of. Plus, when you live in a city, you just need a bike for city life. I just love riding them. When did you last have a shave? Over 20 years ago. I went down to stubble with the beard trimmer maybe about 10 years ago, but before that I’ve had some sort of growth since I could grow it, at around 16. So when I shave it off at the end of the month for Movember to leave just my moustache, it will be a major deal. I’m quite petrified and will be getting more and more nervous as the time approaches. Movember is committed to raising awareness about men’s mental health. Do you think that’s something that needs more attention? I do. Over the past few years, since leaving my job in advertising and following my desire to be an artist, I think I’ve been on an extreme up-and-down ride, struggling, thinking, ‘Can I make this work as a career? Am I good enough?’ And when you’ve come out of a previous career that lasted some 20 years and you realise that, in the end, it didn’t go to plan, you can have dark thoughts, asking yourself, ‘Do I want to go on? Is my life falling to bits? Where is it supposed to go?’ And you start to see how easy it would be to slip into that downward state. This is also tied up with the whole men’s issue of not wanting to talk to anyone and hiding it, battling it by yourself, which is a silly thing to do. The greatest thing that gave me confidence and the belief to carry on, which I keep referring back to at low moments, was that a few very close friends gave me the go-ahead, gave me the confidence to go for it, to do it. So it really helped to talk to other guys about it. If anyone turns around and just says, ‘Pull your socks up, stop being a baby and get on with it,’ they either haven’t come close to experiencing what it can be like to be that vulnerable, or maybe they’re just a bit blind and ignorant. What do you think of Persol? I’ve had a fascination with sunglasses ever since I first started buying them. I have a collection, and my favourites are genuinely Persol. I actually lost my favourite pair and am thrilled I’ll be able to replace them by doing this for Movember! So me and Persol – I love them. What I really like and what I try to get for my collection are the slightly odder, more obscure glasses. All Persol ones have an edge. They’re all timeless and classic, but they just have a little naughtiness to them. They’re not obvious and that’s what I like about them. And when they do go a bit mad they are just crazy, but so stylish at the same time.
What’s your name? Anton Welcome How would you describe your profession? I’d describe myself as a blogger. What do you do? My blog, Maketh-the-Man, has been running for about six years. We started off talking about accessories, but as time went on we diversified into other categories, like food and drink. I have a high-fashion background, so I talk about trends and formalwear, and along with my partner on the blog, Callum Watt, who knows a lot about drinks in particular, we tell stories about things that men will find interesting. What are you riding? I’m riding a Suzuki SV650, a 1999 model. What do you like about it? I actually got my license riding an SV650, so one reason I bought my bike was simply because I knew the model really well and didn’t want to change. Plus, when I took my old 125cc in to the garage, this SV650 was just standing there, looking at me, all black. I asked the guys where it came from and discovered it belonged to an engineer at the garage who’d had it for about 10 years and really nurtured it all that time. They said he wanted it to go to a new owner. So we had a cup of tea and he told me his story and where he’d been with the bike, and I said I’d love to take it off his hands. I’ve ridden it all over – to Belgium, to Paris; it’s a fantastic bike. Do you have a dream bike? I would love a Triumph Bonneville. I’m looking for one at the moment, but I’m struggling to part ways with my SV. I may keep the SV as a stay-in-the-garage bike and ride the Bonneville. What is it you like about riding? The freedom; the absolute, complete freedom. I’ll sometimes take the bike out at the weekend and won’t even plan to go anywhere – I’ll just go where the wheels take me. And you’ll find some really cool spots. I can also tell you almost every street in West London, just because I tend to get lost and end up navigating myself across the city. That’s a brilliant feeling. When did you last have a shave? Before last night, it had been a year. I don’t normally cleanly shave, usually it’s a five o’clock shadow, but I had a shave yesterday evening and it almost felt like the air was burning my face! My fiancée barely recognised me the next day, she’s so used to seeing me with stubble. Movember is committed to raising awareness about men’s mental health. Do you think that’s something that needs more attention? Absolutely. I’ve done charity work for Movember before – it’s a fantastic campaign to get behind. There is not enough awareness of these issues. I think slowly but surely the world is starting to recognise it a little bit more, but this is a fantastic opportunity for us to reinforce that. We’re terrible at talking about our problems. I will refuse to say I’m unwell until I’m literally shivering, and then my fiancée will say, ‘You’re not feeling very good?’, and I’ll admit it only then. There are a lot of reasons for that, but collectively we can do much more to really encourage talking about it. I think there’s always the silence factor – as men, we tend not to share our emotions. Getting those conversations on the table is really, really important. And, of course, when you talk you find there are a lot of people in the same situation as you. You’re not alone and talking opens far more doors. It’s good to share these things. What do you think of Persol? I first became aware of Persol when I was in Paris once and so many men were wearing these fantastic glasses. So I asked one of the guys what they were, and he said ‘Persol’. So I’ve known about them for a good few years. What I think makes them special is their shape and design; they’re so chic and well crafted; you feel automatically cool and sophisticated wearing them, they’re beautiful.
What’s your name? Nick Ferman How would you describe your profession? I am the Luxottica PR manager for Northern Europe. What do you do? Luxottica is the world’s biggest eyewear company. We work with some amazing brands, like Persol, Ray-Ban, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Paul Smith and Burberry, to name just a few, making their glasses. I make sure all those brands are seen in the right places at the right time, and that the right people are seen wearing them. What are you riding? It’s a 2012 Moto Guzzi V7, which has been fairly heavily customised and looks great. It’s my favourite thing. Ever. I think I love it more than anything or anybody, apart from Mum and Dad. What do you like about it? I think it’s very me. It’s in a way authentic, but at the same time I’m a bit of a poseur, and I think the bike reflects that. I’m Italian. Everybody goes on about Triumphs in this country, and they are great bikes, but I like owning a piece of Italian craftsmanship, and I like the fact that I am riding something that is not seen everywhere. Do you have a dream bike? This one.There are a lot of fantastic bikes around, but I wouldn’t swap it. Ask me in a year’s time and I might change my mind, but at the moment I am very happy with it. What is it you like about riding? It’s just very exciting. The acceleration is something I haven’t experienced in 20 years (I used to ride 20 years ago). It pulls away and it’s just sheer excitement. And you don’t have to go that fast – it’s not about the speed, it’s the acceleration, that’s the main thing. I bought the bike a month and a half ago, and for years before that I was on 1980s Vespas, which are still great pieces of kit, but once you get on a proper bike… Just thinking about it makes me happy. I’m not exaggerating. It’s great. When did you last have a shave? Full shave? I think in 2001. This is as short as it goes. This is stubble – a number 1 razor cut. I look in the mirror and I look like a 12-year-old kid. I can’t look at myself, like this, honestly. Movember is committed to raising awareness about men’s mental health. Do you think that’s something that needs more attention? Yes, absolutely. I’ve been struggling with mental-health issues myself for more than 20 years. And when I started having some problems, living in a small village in Italy in the 1990s, people didn’t really talk about it. It’s not as bad now, but I think we all need to communicate better – especially men. We still live in a macho culture: if you’re a man, you don’t talk about your problems. And in England you’ve got the stiff upper lip, too. We’ve come a long way, and we are doing better, but not as well as we should be. And people die from it. When I read the statistics about how many people – men especially – kill themselves, it’s shocking. I know I’ve been so lucky that I’ve had the right kind of help and the right people with me to help me, but what if I hadn’t? It’s something I care about, and I know first-hand how important it is to talk about these issues. That’s why I want to help raise money and awareness through Movember. I’ve been here in the UK for 11 years now, and I can honestly say I don’t think there’s that much difference between the way British men and Italian men regard these things. This is a widespread male problem – men aren’t good at admitting they need help – with mental-health issues especially. If you fell off your bike, or broke a bone or something, you’d talk about it, but if you were to say you were struggling with depression, people can say, ‘Buck up, get on with it.’ It’s not that I think people don’t mean well, but I think many people aren’t equipped to talk about it, or are scared; they don’t know how to tackle these things. So things like this are important – and, let’s be honest, we are having a bit of fun today, starting to grow our moustaches, and at the same time we are raising money for a good cause. So you can have fun and talk about serious stuff at the same time. What do you think of Persol? If you’re a man and you even vaguely like cars or motorbikes, you’ll have heard of a guy called Steve McQueen. I know it may sound silly, but that man was the coolest guy ever. We’ve all seen pictures of him wearing Persol and, for me, it started from there. First of all they look really cool – that’s the main thing – they’re an amazing piece of kit. But then, I’ve also been to the factory, and the quality of the craftsmanship there is really stunning. The classic Steve McQueen style – the folding one, the 714, which has been on the market for almost 50 years – is still made by hand. It’s a bit like owning a very nice Savile Row suit. And you don’t need to be super-rich to afford a pair.
What’s your name? Peter Howarth How would you describe your profession? I’m the CEO of a creative agency called Show Media in London. What do you do? We tell stories in print and online for anyone who wants to communicate a narrative. Our background is in journalism – I was previously the editor of Arena, Esquire and Man About Town. What are you riding? I have a Triumph Thruxton 900 – it’s just the factory model, which I bought three years ago. What do you like about it? I had been riding a Triumph Bonneville T100 for a while and I just fancied a change. The Thruxton had always caught my eye – I love the idea of café racers, they just look like fun – and I’ve got a thing about 1960s style. It’s a lovely-looking machine, and I often get people asking me how old it is. When I tell them it’s from 2013, they’re often surprised – I expect they think it’s a vintage bike. Do you have a dream bike? I really like the look of the new Triumph Thruxton R – the one Charley Boorman’s riding today is a very nice take on that model. What is it you like about riding? It’s pure romance. A motorbike is the closest thing we have to a mechanical horse, and I love the sense that you simply jump on and ride off into the sunset (or south London, in my case). There’s something wonderful about being on your own on two wheels; a sense of being balanced and in control of your own destiny, which is genuinely therapeutic. Riding out of London to the countryside is great, too, once you’re off the motorway. Gently curving green lanes with lots of time on your side on a sunny day – that’s a real treat. I also like the camaraderie among bikers. In my experience, they are a friendly bunch. When did you last have a shave? I normally have a grey beard, but for Movember I shaved it all off a few days ago. My wife is not at all happy about me growing a moustache, though, especially as she has a birthday party coming up. I may have to grow an all-over beard until then, and create the moustache-only look after the 12th of the month! Movember is committed to raising awareness about men’s mental health. Do you think that’s something that needs more attention? Without a doubt. The terrible thing about mental-health issues is that people still think there is some taboo surrounding them. If people suffer from depression, they are often ashamed or embarrassed to admit it, even though it is an illness and can be treated. Trying to deal with this sort of thing yourself, keeping it hidden, telling yourself that you should be strong enough to sort it out without help – all this can make things so much worse than they need be. Movember is a great idea, a great way of helping men realise that they can talk about their emotions without fear or embarrassment. Being able to admit that you need help from others is a huge step for many men, but often the first one towards a better future. What do you think of Persol? For me, they are just so wonderfully Italian. They make me think of Neorealist films and Marcello Mastroianni and Fellini and wandering around Rome. Connoisseurs of great design wear Persol. If you meet another man in a pair, you feel an affinity. A bit like when you pass another biker on the road.
Donate to the Movember Motorcycle Club over on the Movember website DDonateoteam.co/the-movember-motorcycle-club http://moteam.co/the-movember-motorcycle-club http://moteam.co/the-movember-motorcycle-club