• Lord Kinnock: ‘Passing the 11-plus was the path to liberation’

    My father had to leave school at 13, despite his innate intelligence and ability. He was a collier for 27 years and loved working underground, but in the late 1940s, he had to leave because of dermatitis due to a dust allergy.

  • Father's Day 2022: Paganism, roses and how the campaign to celebrate dads was won

    Father's Day, the official date to honour our wonderful dads and celebrate fatherhood, is not far away.

  • Lucky stripes: the humble rugby shirt is having a comeback for men over 40

    I always viewed men who wear rugby shirts but don’t play the game like men who carry a Porsche keyring while driving a Fiesta. But then I saw a mature David Beckham making one look stylish and gave it a go.

  • Josh Widdicombe: ‘I can’t even go to the toilet without taking my phone with me’

    Josh Widdicombe, 38, is a comedian and presenter best known for his appearances on The Last Leg and Mock the Week, as well as his BBC Three sitcom Josh. He won the first series of Taskmaster in 2015 and the show’s first Champion of Champions special in 2017. He is married to Rose Hanson, a television producer. They have two children.

  • Matt Baker: 'There's more to farming than wafting around the countryside'

    In his adult life, the longest that Matt Baker has been without a flock of sheep was for a period of six months in 1999. The now 43-year-old had moved down to London to start his dream job presenting Blue Peter. Settling into city life for the first time in Chiswick High Road he says now: “I couldn’t handle it!”

  • The new rules of how to be sexy as a midlife man

    Look at this picture of Brad Pitt. What do you see? A relaxed, fit, long-haired Brad drinking a fancy cup of coffee in a sleek, open-plan, minimalist kitchen. What else? A chunky signet ring, a wristful of bracelets, a forearm tattoo, a bit of a greying beard – but neat, not the unwashed stubble of Brad’s tricky artist phase – and in the background, a conspicuous coffee machine. You may not have heard of De’Longhi (we certainly hadn’t) but Brad is their new brand ambassador, following in the foo

  • Richard E Grant: ‘Playing a drag queen gave me sleepless nights’

    This interview was conducted before the sad news about the death of Richard E Grant’s wife, Joan Washington, who died on 2 September

  • 10 of the best new swim trunks for stylish mid-lifers

    Swimwear is tricky for middle-aged men: go too short or too loud and you attract attention for the wrong reasons; play it too safe and you’re condemned to dadsville. Mercifully, there is a safe place where mid-lifers like me can hit the beach without ridicule and potentially even turn heads.

  • 12 of the best new vetiver fragrances for men

    The fragrance industry suffered during lockdown, since staying two metres apart made dabbing something aromatic on your wrist pointless. Happily, it’s now set for a golden age with a backlog of new scents, many of which feature soothing, calming vetiver.

  • Line of Duty's Martin Compston: 'When I lose that chip, I'll lose an edge'

    If you’ve only ever seen Martin Compston in Line of Duty, playing DS Steve Arnott with his wide-boy Estuary accent, you’d be startled to meet him in person and hear his gruff, playful Scottish brogue. He’s played Arnott, whose accent he modelled on rogue bank trader Nick Leeson, for nine years, but even now at wrap parties crew are shocked to hear his real voice. He keeps up Arnott’s accent on set, only dropping it for ‘the wife and the family – the family wouldn’t speak to me otherwise!’ he lau

  • Why the polo is the hardest working item in your wardrobe

    The classic cotton-piqué polo is one of our most adaptable staples, appropriate for dress-down-Fridays and smart/casual invitations as well as the golf course. Still, there’s only so far a sports shirt made from a breathable fabric can rise up the ranks.

  • How to find the right pair of summer sandals for all types of feet

    Despite working in fashion all my life, I never felt the need to own a pair of sandals. I just bought cheap flip-flops before a holiday – until I discovered the Birkenstock Arizona. With its pretzel-buckled straps and cork-cushioned footbed, the ultra-comfortable Arizona has been a beach-to-bar classic since the 1970s, but it has also proved to be the perfect WFH shoe. It was allegedly the most searched shoe online last summer. I bought a pair myself, and they radically changed my viewpoint on s

  • Why the Breton top is the secret to an easy classic wardrobe

    Introduced as a naval uniform in 1858, with its distinctive stripes (allegedly representing Napoleon’s 21 victories) designed to identify Frenchmen overboard, the Breton shirt is having another fashion moment. La marinière (as it was known) was first adopted as a fashion staple by the 1920s Riviera set – Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel were fans. Later, as worn by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, it came to represent a new spirit of liberation. This summer, the shops are awash wi

  • The best anti-aging face creams for men under £10

    There was a time, not so long ago, when the best the male grooming market could offer was shaving foam, deodorant and soap on a rope. Nowadays, driven by unforeseen demand, we men are offered products we never knew we needed; anyone for a beard-softening shampoo? But with greater choice comes greater confusion. The anti-ageing sector is the golden goose for beauty brands. We all eventually have to deal with wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (uneven skin-tone) or sagging caused by loss of skin elastici

  • Why the Harrington jacket is the timeless men's staple

    You are looking at a menswear classic. The Harrington is the jacket that will go with everything. The original, Baracuta’s G9, was launched as a golfing jacket in Manchester in 1939 but popularised by Ryan O’Neal’s character, Rodney Harrington, in TV soap Peyton Place. Worn in the 1960s by Paul Newman, Elvis Presley, JFK and Steve McQueen before being adopted by British sub-cultures (mods, skinheads, punks), the G9 is still going strong. I bought my first during the Britpop years. Featuring a si

  • Why the Cuban shirt is the hero piece of the summer – no matter your age

    The Cuban-collared or cabana shirt, or Guayabera (it goes by many names) is a mid-century menswear icon. With a soft double-notched one-piece collar lying flat to the body like a pyjama top, it found popularity in the 1960s following the Cuban exodus and was worn by everyone from Hemingway to Elvis. Since that heyday it has stuck around as a more sophisticated choice than its louder Hawaiian sibling. I split cabana shirts into three categories: those with an all-over print (great for holidays an

  • Why you're never too old to wear trainers, and the 12 best options for men

    Unlike my father, who wore sensible shoes as a boy (I know because he never tired of telling me), I spent my formative years shod in adidas, Puma and Nike. My generation has a soft spot for trainers and I plan to keep wearing mine long into my 70s. Millennials, however, consider some styles to be “dad trainers”. To avoid looking like a man in a midlife crisis, heritage styles are the best way forward. Take the Vans Old Skool (the first to use the signature Vans side-stripe), which first debuted in 1977, or the Nike Air Pegasus, first introduced in 1983. Boston-based Saucony, over a century old, has released an eco-friendly spin on its iconic Jazz Court model which uses cotton and jute, but no plastic. The 373 by New Balance is another worthy retro option, especially in burgundy and white. At the other end of the spectrum is relatively new brand, Athletics Footwear. Established in London, designed in Portland, Oregon, developed in Amsterdam and Hong Kong, and with creative direction from Berlin and Paris, its ONE.2 is positioned at the intersection of nostalgia and innovation. These and the Lacoste Game Advance would be my first choice for a trainer to actually go running in. For versatility, the retro plimsoll or pump takes some beating. You can even wear it with a suit. Zara has a style with a double-stripe that looks like it has teleported from the mid-70s, while M&S Collection has a canvas lace-up in a wide range of colours that, at £25 a pop, you can afford to have some fun with. Plimsoll lines

  • Like Keir Starmer, I know nothing gets between a midlife bloke and playing football

    It’s every middle-aged out of shape amateur footballer’s nightmare. Someone brings a camera to the game and captures you in all your huffing puffing tight-shirted glory, shattering a thousand delusional inner commentaries. In those photos you realise you are not the younger version of yourself that compels you to keep playing – nor do you look anything like the stylish Italian greats like Maldini or Pirlo, or the super lean heroes of your Seventies childhood. Photos emerged on the weekend of Keir Starmer looking less than match fit, doubled over and puffing, before finishing the game with a pint. Having been his teammate on a number of occasions previously on Sunday mornings in north London, I knew his game as organised, his captaincy skilful – it was fair to predict he might be heading for a higher role in politics. Contrary to those photographs Keir is very good to play with: he’s solid, not flashy and works hard, which is probably why he looked so knackered. He wasn’t much of a goalscorer, it has to be said, and his “shoot to miss” policy might need some sort of parliamentary investigation. It doesn’t surprise me he’s not stopped despite his new job: for many of us amateur football is the last true link between the dreams we had as kids and the lives we lead today. Especially in a season when we can’t even watch our professional teams live. I’ve kept going too – in spite of having similarly unflattering photos of me mid-match broadcast when I wrote Above Head Height, my book about five-a-side football. An Amazon number one bestseller, newspapers, magazines and Match of The Day: The Premier League Show sent photographers and cameramen to shoot me and my friends. I have never looked so static in all my life. I used to be a box-to-box midfielder; now the only box I’m likely to be getting into is one covered in wreaths. For men in midlife, giving up a kickabout just isn’t an option. I still play two games a week despite health issues which suggest I really shouldn’t. I can’t see, I can’t hear, I have asthma, my insteps have gone but I have no intention to stop, I still have a decent game two out of three weeks. The people I play with range in age from 15 to 73, it’s the same all over the country. Self-organised small-sided games are going on everyday in every city and town in the UK and companies like Power League offer a platform for avid five-a-side nuts, but beyond that there are any number of leisure centres and schools renting their pitches to an array of ageing men and now women in new and vintage kits of their heroes. Admittedly the demand to play in my regular Friday night game once lockdown allowed it again at Easter was naturally greater than on a rainy February night and we’ve been sailing at full capacity ever since. Amateur astroturf football is a great leveller. For those 60 or 90 minutes it doesn’t matter what you do for a living, where you’re from, who you support. There are bonds formed that transcend normal social boundaries. Last Friday I found myself stood outside our local pub having the post-match debrief where people who shoot from the halfway line are forced to explain their actions, and temporary goalkeepers who give the ball away to the opposition striker to score are mocked mercilessly. This time I was with four Manchester United fans, which as a Leeds United fan is not a date I would otherwise arrange, but we played together so we drank together.

  • The 10 best men's collarless shirts

    The grandad-collared shirt is gaining momentum, powered by the popularity of Peaky Blinders and the fact that, with fewer of us working at the office, the collar and tie have never felt more redundant. The look is divisive, though. Does eliminating the defining feature of a shirt (its collar) render it useless, like removing the handle from a teapot? I don’t think so. You just need to know how to wear them – for example, to take the stuffiness out of a formal suit. My advice, if you are new to collarless shirts, is to opt for a vertical stripe. It will take the emphasis away from the neckline and will cut the risk of looking like a dental hygienist. Luca Faloni’s Versilia in khaki stripes, cut from pure Italian linen, and Octobre Editions’ cotton/linen Benny in red, with stripes and mother-of pearl buttons, are two of my favourites. For a more formal look you can try a contrast collar stand (the binding-band around the neckline). APC’s Mark is a slick example of this, as is the linen striped shirt from designer JW Anderson’s collaboration with Uniqlo. At the casual end of the spectrum NN07, a Copenhagen-based firm which specialises in wardrobe staples, has a genius checked flannel shirt/grandad shirt hybrid. Plain grandads require a little more confidence to pull off. H&M, Zara and M&S can all be relied upon for quality – M&S has a very versatile one in a lightweight corduroy. When taking the plunge, my key advice is to always wear the top two buttons undone, with or without a white T-shirt underneath. A world without collar

  • How girdles for guys can take off the lockdown pounds

    Men in Spanx? No thanx. That has always been my reaction to flab-restricting girdles, body-sculpting T-shirts and high-waisted shapewear pants that redistribute your love handles’ fatty bits to other, less obtrusive areas. But now, after two lockdowns of overdoing it on the Pinot Grigio and the Deliveroo dinners and being a mainly horizontal, gym-phobic type looking for a quick fix, maybe it was time for a rethink. With WFH coming to an end and office and social lives starting up again, I wanted to dress up and abandon my baggy H&M sweatpants in favour of a nicely tailored Brunello Cucinelli suit. No time for cardio or a crash paleo diet: I needed an instant, blubber relocation-based solution. My thinspiration came from an unlikely source – Ned Rocknroll, Kate Winslet’s husband. Described by the actress as “one of those impossible people you look at and think, how can you really eat six meals a day and look like that?” it turns out that young Ned keeps himself Jagger skinny by eating copious amounts of chia seeds and lying around in male Spanx. So I ordered some new Spanx Mens Ultra Sculpt wear for myself. They were delivered by a courier clearly tickled by the prominent logo on the bag. ‘How’s it hanging?’ enquired the blurb on the box, with the accompanying leaflet promising ‘Top control and ultimate crotch comfort’. Ew.