News Brendan O’Connor

Friday 22 August 2014

Hollywood's Cameron Diaz is my new hygiene heroine

Brendan O'Connor

Published 05/05/2014 | 02:30

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Cameron Diaz

I have decided to go all Cameron Diaz. I think, subconsciously, this is a response to the fact that my wife has gone all Gwyneth Paltrow. Some interfering biddy gave her Gwynnie's lifestyle book and suddenly the house is like a health food shop. We seem to have all kinds of flour, except actual flour. There's wholemeal spelt flour, rice flour, coconut flour ... you name it. She is even making her own nut butter at this stage. Sometimes I come home suddenly and catch her with a green smoothie. I suspect kale is involved. There are whole parts of the fridge I don't even look into anymore. I am getting seriously worried she is going to grow some interesting facial hair and start foraging.

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I'm saying nothing though, because I'm not completely crazy. And I'm finding the wholemeal spelt bread OK once I drown it in enough butter, which is a rule of thumb that I find applies to everything.

The kids seem to be happy enough too. The six-year-old, truth be told, is a bit of a health Nazi. She carefully monitors my salt intake on the boiled eggs every morning and frequently has stern words with me about my sugar intake. I'll be slipping into the TV with a handful of jelly beans of an evening and I'll hear "Daddy! What have you got there?!"

Of course she has form in this department. From an early age, she would come down in the morning and do a kind of forensic check-through of the house and if there were any telltale Malteser bags or pizza boxes, she would turn accusingly on you and utter the terrifying phrase, "What happened here?" which was her version of "J'accuse". This is a child who will routinely come home from birthday parties and complain that there wasn't enough healthy food. I should say that by healthy she means savoury. In this context, pizza and sausage rolls would constitute healthy.

I never thought the kids would be health nuts, but there you go. I suppose they never knew me when I used to enjoy myself a bit more so, as far as they are concerned, their father is a healthy person, arriving back in from a swim when they are getting up and so on. As they get older they will doubtless notice that I am the world's fattest health nut, but there you go.

So anyway. I seem to be responding to all this Gwynnie Goopness by adopting a domestic goddess of my own, and it is Cameron. There was a time when domesticity would have been the last thing on my mind when I looked at Cameron, but I like to think that I've changed and she's changed a little bit too. Now, on a night out with Cameron, I think I'd be happy with a chat, a bit of lifestyle advice. Funny how things change. But sorry, Cam. That boat has sailed. You just don't do it for me in that way anymore.

So, deep breath everyone, I've given up deodorant and/or antiperspirant. Cam reckons it's bad for you and it holds in the stink.

Like much of what I share here, me giving up deodorant may not seem very momentous to most of you but, trust me, if you knew me, and smelt me, you would know that this is a big step for me.

You could say I am a bit of a hygiene freak. More than that, I am a smell freak. Anyone who has ever stood near me will tell you I wear far too much scent. I think there is something deep-rooted there involving a certain horror of what I might smell like otherwise.

But I had begun to think, like Cameron, that deodorants and so on don't really work, and ultimately create a staler underarm. I had particularly begun to notice this on a Saturday night. You sweat under TV lights without even being aware of it. Soured adrenaline and stale deodorant all come together to give you less-than-ideal pits by the end of a show. And then you have to get your picture taken with everyone, which involves a lot of raising of your arms to put them around people's shoulders. The fact that many of these people are women who are more at my pit level doesn't help. I always wonder how many of them go away thinking, "I used to like that guy, but not anymore. He stinks!"

So I've decided to go au natural, apart from a slight squirt of cologne to the pits. I'm not happy about it, to be honest. It's a slippery slope now to long greasy hair, facial hair, dancing naked at festivals and tantric sex. Between that and the kale factory that's going on behind my back, the kids could spend a lot of time in therapy getting over being raised by hippies.

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