I would that I could afford to be a hard core eccentric.
It's not cheap you know. Generally you need a large home, a grandiose nature and a hobby or a habit that marks you out from the crowd. Collecting things like twelfth century roof tiles or Victorian teapots. Waking the neighbourhood each morning playing reveille on a tuba dressed in a pith helmet. (Have you ever seen a tuba in a pith helmet?). Shaping the hedges to resemble your favourite Greek God and holding tea parties for ducks.
If you live in a flat whilst exhibiting those attributes you are just a nuisance and a council problem. If you live in a small, yet well fortified estate and claim heritage back to Boudicca then you have the admiring noblesse oblige of your peers, and reporters will beat a path to your door for those natty stories that come at the end of the news to make you feel that the world is still alright, even though they've just spent an hour telling you it isn't.
To be honest, Australia isn't a country that tolerates eccentricity well when it is in evidence in the average man on the street. Larrikin yes. Eccentric no. Running nude down George St in broad daylight is a display of larrikinism and would attract a chuckle and expressions such as, "Goodonya ya silly bastard" and "'Bout bloody time someone did that".
But talk to a street light and there's more paddywagons pulling up around you than there are women who don't know how to tuck their underwear into the back of their jeans.
In the UK eccentricity is manifold in its expression. Here it is not. But I enjoy wearing my tongue firmly in my cheek. I enjoy the act of being a little different and attracting comment. And I enjoy spending an inordinate amount of time waxing and blow drying my moustache and watching from the corner of my eye as people watch me from the corner of theirs. Mrs A. and I were accosted on the golf course just last week by a terribly nice chap who stopped mid swing as I came into view, and called across the fairway, "Fuckin' awesome moe mate". I even bought a pipe to set the mood further, and am currently in the market for a smoking jacket, a fez and a large country estate.
Being a member of the Handlebar club suits my need for expression in this area, and the increase of similar clubs across the world shows that I am not the only one. The handlebar club is one of the oldest, but the German clubs are generally the most prolific, and therefore have the most sway in the movement. But as I said, it's all tongue in cheek, eccentric gatherings with a liberal dose of charity work thrown in for good measure.
Even America are getting into it. If anything that had to be good news. The most prominent nation on earth could only increase the success of these clubs, which for mine is a good thing.
Then I found this. (Watch the trailer).
To be honest I thought that firing guns into the air was more a middle eastern extremist sort of thing. The "No more patriotic endevour" bit seemed a little full on. But what affected me most was the lack of friendly oneness with ones fellow hirsute. The obvious need to win at all costs.
But it was the last words that chilled me. Why you would equate friendly international competition to WWII I don't understand.