From The "Argus" - Friday, August 30, 2002
| STYLE and uniqueness have a price. For Michael Attree it is 25 minutes a
day of meticulous moustache grooming.
With a look better suited to Edwardian times, antique dealer mustachioed Michael cannot help but catch his customers off-guard.
The former TV production director's facial hair and dress sense are more than mere eccentricity - he loves all things old.
Sitting at his antiques stall in Snooper's Paradise in Kensington Gardens, Brighton, well-spoken Michael said:
"My tash makes me feel olde-worlde and I very much like the Edwardian era. It enhances the atmosphere I like to be in."
Michael has to ensure he sleeps with a net across his face and prepares a beeswax and turpentine concoction for the "main body" of his facial
| Sometimes things go wrong and excessive trimming left the
37-year-old with "a Hitler". His current moustache is only nine months old.
He said: "Grooming can take quite a while. You have to pick a few hairs, tweak the ends and it has to look just right.
"The more conceited you are, the longer the grooming."
Fending off an age of goatee beards, he said: "People laugh at me but I think I'm having the last laugh.
"It's so uncool to have a tash but if they can get past that, they are people I'm happy to know.
"But it is remarkable how many people take it with good humour. Generally, they come up, shake hands and say, 'splendid tash'."
Michael decided Salvador Dali-style whiskers were a must after seeing comedian Jimmy Edwards, founder of the Handlebar Club.
| The London-based club,
started in 1947, has 110 members, who raise funds for RAF veterans.
Now, thanks to an appearance on TV breakfast show RI:SE, Michael will represent Britain in the European Beard and Moustache Championships tomorrow.
The championships, being held near Milan, Italy, attract hundreds of eccentric-looking gents.
The event runs every two years and facial hair fans pose and posture to win various titles.
Michael fought off some hairy competition to win a place on the British Beard and Moustache Team, a flight to Italy and hotel accommodation.
He said: "I imagine it must have been rigged, some of the other chaps put me to shame.
"They had penny-farthings hanging off their faces."
RISING STAR:Michael, far right, with RI:SE presenter Al Convy and other moustache-wearers
From "The Insight" January 2004
|Ladies, if you've ever despaired at the unromantic
and scruffily dressed Brighton masses, and ached for a raffish gentleman with the dress
sense, mischief and wit of a loveable rogue from an Ealing Comedy, then let me introduce
Gentleman Mike. This stylish and singular individual - with a penchant for Edwardian
boots, ruff, velvet and double-breasted suits - can be found at local auctions, seances
and in Snoopers Paradise, where (as a sideline to his career as an art dealer), he has a
stall selling Victorian ephemera, stuffed animals and old copies of the Dandy. All
this, however, is a mere formality, for it is Michael's fine moustache that has made
him not only a familiar figure around Brighton, but also a younger member of the famous
London Handlebar Club.
Established in 1947 by Jimmy 'Whacko' Edwards, the HBC still meet once a month to display their 'hirsute beauties'. The club's etiquette demands gentlemanly conduct, the wearing of a tie (it's drinks all round if you don't) and, as Mike cheekily put it, "an ability to bore all outsiders with tales of the Empire and deceased comedians."
Divulging further. he explained; "It's actually a great chortle; many of these chaps are genuine eccentrics. One fine Gentleman rides a Penny Farthing! Women can join. of course, but they'd need to be willing to have their graspable extremities tugged."
Michael is clearly proud of his 'lip foliage': he grooms it every day for 25 minutes and uses a snood (protective moustache net) to hold it at night. But what of those trips to the barbers? "I won't let anyone near my lip foliage; one slip and you're a Hitler!" he pronounced gravely. In fact, so fine is Gentleman Mike's moustache that he was recently selected for the European Beard and Moustache Championships in Italy. Michael elucidates: "Many contestants take it very seriously, particularly the Germans, so you have to be careful; they'll spy on you to see what style you're picking. I was handed some moustache wax by one dubious looking contestant. I thought - I'd better not use it, it might have bleach in it!"
And he had every right to be cautious as he ended up winning a category for the English Moustache Style and even received a congratulatory email from The Chap magazine - 'The Chap Salutes!'
And Brighton salutes him too. With talk of the 2007 World Beard
and Moustache Championship being held in Brighton, it's comforting to know that
despite all those scruffy beards, goatees and Jazz dots out there, there is at least one
man in Brighton who as he succinctly put it, "has the balls to sport the facial
topiary worthy of a gentleman!"