Whenever I leave the Cumbrian Fells and head to the city, I feel like a character from a Hanna Barbera cartoon: some backwater freak with an unfathomable bumpkin accent. I can feel the urbanites staring, wondering when I'm getting the next stagecoach home. And that's just when I'm in Carlisle.
So, I thought it might be time to get hip. Here are the 7 steps of "How to Be a Hipster".
Step 1 - Be Seen Contemplating
In striving to become a hipster, it's no use use plopping a cereal bowl over your head and asking the wife to break out the sheep-shearing clippers. You've got to be seen to be spending. Nothing short of a "pony" or two will suffice in the pursuit of a new wigging, shave, nail-trim, as well as those obligatory hair and skin products that come in slick designer packaging with 4 point font size. Even more important is to be seen outside a gloomy barbers, coffee in hand, looking extremely moody about any makeover intentions. Afterall, this is serious stuff, guys ... tapping into your hipster-chakra is life changing, yeah?
Step 2 - Take Advice From a Genuine Hipster
In any metropolis, you're never more than a kidney stone's throw away from a hipster. They can advise you how to become a hep-cat faster than you can pull an espresso on a La Marzocco Strada. If you can find one in a black and white setting, then all the better - you're guaranteed to have that monochrome coolness reserved only for hunks in Athena posters, clutching new borns to their ripped and hairless torsos.
Be open-minded. Asking pertinent questions such as: "Is it possible to become as hip as you?" will generally be met with knowing grins and a shake of the head, but may get you a free cappuccino for your naivety.
Step 3 - Dress Like a Hipster
No self-respecting Hipster would rise before noon and leave their open-plan loft apartment without having a near panic attack over what to wear that day. Ironically, being hip means going "back to the woods" (somewhere I've just left). A selection of de rigeur lumberjack shirts is a must. There is absolutely no way that city dweller will take a pour-over seriously unless it's been served by someone who looks like a cross between Mark Zuckerburg and a Canadian Mountie.
Obviously, when you're feeling deeply retrospective, a funky tee-shirt with a twist never fails to add a Hipster edge. You just know that piccolo is going to be one on-trend winner.
Step 4 - Cultivate That Moustache ...
Don't even think about enrolling into Hipster School Cupping Class, unless you've been working on that masterpiece... the twiddly moustache. In many ways it's the ultimate Hipster statement. Let's face it, you're a male bowerbird prancing like a RADA graduate for David Attenborough's attention. This is centre-stage stuff. And if you ain't got the plummage, your Hipster peers will expel you to an after-hours chess group with the other soulboy geeks and you'll never find a mate. Be warned, amigos.
Step 5 - ... Or a Beard
Even Hipsters can form splinter groups. Some lean towards upper lip attention only, others favour the full-on beard. It's probably because they care too much ... a bit like Labour Party members with overactive testosterone levels who've read too many manifestos.
A Hipster beard has got to be your bird's nest of glory. It's an appendage to your chin you've preened so much, you'd actually want to call it home. Only then can you confidently go back to "Step 1" and sit proudly in the barber's chair in the knowledge that the awaiting £15 pamper, amounts to the facial equivalent of topping up your Habitiat store card.
Have you also noticed that there's a curious reversal? The length of facial hair is inversely proportionate to that on your head. It's such a profound concept, I guess it's something only Stephen Hawking could explain. My good friend (above) is a perfect exponent of this theory.
Step 6 - Get a Tattoo
They say every picture tells a story, and if this good-time girl is anything to go by, she could hold her own in the "Show and Tell" room of the Tate Modern.
Hipsters have tattoos. Full Stop. Sometimes they even have tattoos of full-stops... commas, semi-colons and parenthesis. I reckon Guy Pearce was the very first Hipster when he bravely self-biro'd his bod in the film "Memento". But a clause in his contract prevented him from ever taking a future role as an on-screen barista. Tragic.
But most importantly, tattoos should be a statement of self-expression. Each is a stamp of individuality. It should scream: "This is me and if you don't like it, Ed Milliband, then 'toughy nuts' to you". Needless to say, if you can't think of anything truly unique to daub on your person, then just copy any old design from another Hipster. That way you'll always be part of the gang. Clear?
Step 7 - Market Yourself
Now we're almost there. But you need to tell the world just how hip you are. I mean, what's the point in being an individual if you can't be part of a like-minded mob? We've all got to follow someone ... even the remaining five UKIP voters. The world would certainly be a duller place if we all thought for ourselves. What would be the point of football crowds chanting in unison and where would all the well-read residents of Chiswick meet for weekly Chablis and book-club sessions?
Nope, your newly appropriated appearance is simply not enough; you have to apply your marketing skills.
Take this fine chap as an example. Not only is he the "Don Corleone" of the espresso machine, but he makes sure you know about it. Unless you take one of his postcards and button his spats, you may find the pattern of a horse's head on your latte crema instead of a tulip.
There are many ways to promote your Hipsterdom. Why not write you own name on a take-away cup so we can put a name to a beard when you're sipping your brew on the high street? Definitely have a long and short sleeve on the same shirt so we can see that new tattoo beneath the misty clingfilm wrap. Do something really original like print coffee splashes on the back of your business cards to add that authentic I'm-writing-my-novel-in-a-coffee-house look. Like the discovery of Hipster planets in another galaxy, the possibilities are endless.
I trust these 7 steps will help you on your way. Remember: you're as unique as the next Hipster, so there's no need to feel alone! Good luck, you hep-catz!
*Footy 1: thanks to all the superstars who agreed to have their images taken. You're the best and almost worthy of being Hipsters.
**Footy 2: Big up to the Hipstermeister herself, Frauline Liam Lonsdale, for the sublime photography, as always. Sehr gut!