Quite a few women drop by this manly blog and I will be most interested to find out what they have to say about today's subject - cosmetics. Last year, "The Independent" newspaper reckoned that in her lifetime the average British woman will spend around £100,000 on cosmetic products. Products which hide blemishes, which colour or gloss the lips, which embellish the eyes with eye shadow and mascara and do various other jobs to enhance or perhaps to hide the face that Nature has provided.
A former teaching colleague called Val once confided in me that all her adult life she had had to factor in an extra half hour every morning in order to apply her war-paint. She admitted that she wore "a mask" and that no one outside her family had ever seen her without the face she had painted on every day for forty years. I found this very sad and wondered what it had to say about women's liberation.
Many of the older teenage girls I taught must have spent more time preening themselves in mirrors than they spent on their homework. Their faces could be caked with concealing creams - often in tan colours that would be too dark for a Greek peasant in a heatwave. Their eyebrows would be plucked and shaped so perfectly that they looked as if they had been stuck on from a clown's kit.
Like most men, I have never worn any make-up (apart from theatrical make-up). My eyebrows have never been plucked and my hair has never been coloured. Before I go out, I sometimes comb my hair and that's all. No lipstick, no concealing creams, no eye shadow.
I think that many modern women have got the balance right. In everyday life and work they may wear no make-up at all and only when "going out" on special nights do they reach into their make-up bags or apply some of the products they keep on their dressing tables. Isn't it all about self-confidence?
Perhaps a woman's relationship with cosmetics has a great deal to say about how she sees herself. For girls who are becoming women it cannot be easy. They receive so many mixed messages. On the one hand, they are told that men and women are equals and yet they see so many images of women who meticulously seek to enhance their natural appearances with expensive facial products. And finally, I also wonder what cosmetics have to do with making women more desirable to the so-called "opposite" sex when honesty is surely beauty's best companion. Oh, and please don't get me started on face lifts and botox and other such self-indulgent nonsense.