Old but gold 

• Don’t let old age bring you down, be like The Men of the West band who embrace it with humour and bravery.

A LOT of younger men are shaving their balls.

It’s part of a new generation of blokes who are into “manscaping” and personal grooming.

For men of a certain gruff vintage it all sounds a bit odd and, well, pointless.

Probably the same blokes who think Twitter is the name of old Bert’s canary from the RSL, and Grindr is some new-fangled coffee machine.

Maybe English author Martin Amis was right? He said that when the world starts seeming alien to you, it’s your preparation for leaving it.

Old blokes don’t despair, there’s hope – if you’re struggling with the perils of ageing you can get along to “Secret Old Bloke’s Business (Men Only)” at The Meeting Place in South Fremantle.

It’s run by 85-year-old Wes Carter, a long-term Samson resident who for more than 40 years has been organising events to help blokes feel more comfortable talking about their feelings and finding out more about themselves. In 2001, he and Peter Efford founded The MensWork Project. 

“It’s a simple formula for providing a safe and confidential environment for men to discuss some of the concepts around ageing,” Carter says.

“My years of experience in working with men is provide that opportunity to take their responses to a deeper level rather than ‘the news of the day’.

“I facilitate the group so that each man has an opportunity to contribute rather than one or more dominating the conversations.

“Perhaps the outcome for many men is to know that there are other men with similar stories about being male and how do they want to view the last part of their lives.”

Carter has certainly lived life to the full – a former Christ Church Grammar School and Fremantle Boys High School pupil in the 1950s, he lived and worked in Malaysia for 12 years and then was the workshop manager of the WA Fire Brigades Technical Services Depot in O’Connor for 23 years until his retirement.

He says the biggest challenge of getting older is “being able to maintain quality relationships, independence, health and wellbeing.”

“As ageing men we are constantly faced with the challenge of creating a culture that will enhance our future development,” he says.

“We could of course sit back and just accept what life has presented. We can stay locked in the old ways of functioning or we can generate new beginnings as we see old situations from new perspectives, and to be able to do this in a creative group situation with well grounded, non-anxious and genuinely interested men. Surely this is a place to be.”

He says men in their autumn years have to rediscover their childlike wonder and be open to new concepts and not get stuck in a rut. The Chook pushed Carter on the details of what goes on at “Secret Old Bloke’s Business (Men Only)” but as the name suggests it’s all a bit clandestine – “sometimes the mystery is an attraction for those men on the journey wanting to explore more about life.”

But don’t worry, I don’t think they’ll be any electric razors there…

To book for the event on December 2 at The Meeting Place on South Terrace go to eventbrite.com.au and to find out more about The MensWork project see mensworkproject.org


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