5 essential items for the discerning modern man

There’s a terrific scene at the end of the 1979 movie The Jerk, where Steve Martin’s dim-witted character, Navin, hits rock bottom and informs his soon-to-be ex-wife, Marie, that he needs none of the wealth accrued from inventing the popular ‘Opti-Grab’ device. As he goes to leave the house he starts yelling over his shoulder:

“I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray… And this paddle game. – The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need… And this remote control. – The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need… And these matches. – The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball… And this lamp. – The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one… I need this. – The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I’m some kind of a jerk or something! – And this. That’s all I need.”

It’s an amazing performance from Martin and it got us thinking; outside of a man’s wardrobe what five things should he own?

Here’s our attempt at answering a very difficult question…

Decent bed linen

There’s a reason the army takes bed making seriously; it instils a discipline and attention to detail which is vital in combat. Away from the battlefield some studies have even suggested that making your bed everyday actually increases overall happiness. Bearing that in mind it makes sense to invest in decent cotton bed linen – it makes achieving those crisp folds a lot easier.

There’s only so long you can get away with aged, greying sheets and novelty duvet covers and any veering towards shiny silk nonsense screams Peter Stringfellow wannabe. Plain white sheets and a simply designed duvet cover and pillow case combo should do the trick. Remember the higher the cotton thread count, the more luxurious.

A cookbook

These days any Tom, Dick and Harry can turn to the internet or their favourite iPad app to download recipes, but owning and using a favourite cookbook shows you’re really a real gastronome.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re aiming to be a budding Gordon, Delia or Nigella a well-used hardback, spattered with the remnants of culinary experiments should grace every gentleman’s kitchen. From rustling up a roast to perfecting a homemade Bolognese sauce, a couple of go-to meals are vital if a modern man is to impress mates, female companions and mothers alike.

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A signature aftershave

If you still think cheap deodorants will one day have bikini-clad women running at you in the street then you’re more deluded than the average X-Factor contestant. Rather than spend your days ponging like a teenager boy, invest in a proper cologne, eau de toilette or aftershave. A man should smell good, but it’s essential he doesn’t radiate a fragrance capable of choking fellow commuters.

Test fragrances before buying and get a trusted acquaintance to give you a hand deciding; you want a scent with which you are comfortable and one that doesn’t irritate the skin. Remember that a few sprays of eau de toilette after a shower should keep you going for most of the day.

A toolbox…and tools

If you’ve any desire to exert your manliness at home then you’re going to have to at least invest in a hammer and some nails. A drill is another obvious acquisition, but in truth a toolbox is an ever-evolving possession.

If your idea of DIY is screaming at a free IKEA Allen Key then now may be the time to upgrade to a proper set of hardy tools. Don’t be naïve enough to think you’ll never use them; nobody ever plans a burst pipe or being gifted a slightly dodgy family photo that needs hanging. Worst comes to the worst at least invest in a Swiss Army knife.

A passport

Not having a passport is like not having money – your freedom is instantly restricted and women (and men) are that little bit harder to please. Let’s be honest, unless you’ve forgotten to renew your passport, there should be nothing stopping you leaving our fair isle at the drop of a hat.

And why wouldn’t you want to? You’d have to be a small-minded fellow not to want to go exploring with so much of the world and so many different cultures so nearby. If that doesn’t float your boat, a passport is also a universally accepted form of identification, which is pretty damn useful if you’re trying to negotiate with anybody from bouncers to bank managers!

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Andrew Allen / Editor

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