My last proper shave was (I think) on the morning of Wednesday 22nd December. The inevitable consequence of this is that, over the course of the last 20 days, I’ve now got an honest-to-goodness beard.
(when Peter Jackson filmed Lord of the Rings, he needed to give Ian McKellan a false nose to make sure that his face didn't disappear into his Gandalf beard.... not a problem I think he'd have with me.)
It started out of laziness, of course. I don’t particularly enjoy shaving, and when I have a few days off work, I tend to let my stubble grow. Like lots of blokes, I reckon I look better with a hint of stubble… maybe two or three days worth. After that, it starts getting a bit itchy and/or I have to go back to work, so I have a shave. This time, I had a clear ten days off work and I just didn’t bother shaving at all. By the time I was due to go back to work on 3rd January, I had enough of a beard that I was prepared to run the inevitable gauntlet of banter and give it another couple of weeks. We’re going skiing towards the end of January, I thought, so why not go with a beard? Every time we go skiing, I come back with what looks like an identical set of photos of us wearing the same skiing gear standing with the same friends on a snowy mountain somewhere. Why not shake that up a bit by going with a beard?
Alright. It’s not much of a reason, I grant you, but there you go.
So I went to work with a beard.
Apparently, bearded men tend to get passed over for promotion more frequently than the clean-shaven. Well, that’s hardly likely to make much of a difference to the glacial rate of progression of my brilliant career, is it? Plus I decided that I simply didn’t care what people thought.
As it turned out, I received nothing but positive comments – almost to the extent that I began to wonder what was wrong with my face before. I’d sort of assumed that a beard would be a guy thing and that most ladies would be generally disapproving. As it turns out, I’ve had a surprising number of compliments from my female colleagues. Most are concerned that I keep it trimmed and don’t allow it to become a free-range, ZZ Top-style affair, but otherwise they seem to like it. Even my wife – who hated my 2008 Movember moustache – seems to have surprised herself by how much she likes it. Well, tolerates it.
I keep surprising myself too; I keep walking past mirrors, catching sight of myself, and thinking “Ooooh! You’ve got a beard!” as though this was a remarkable thing for a man of my age to be able to do. In my own head, I’m still about 16 years old, like most men, and the ability to grow hair on my face still seems an astonishing thing to be able to do. Tina asked me here over the weekend if I’d been out running on Trent Bridge at about noon on Sunday as she’d seen a tall, bearded man jogging as she drove into town. It was me, of course, but it still took a few seconds for the novelty of being described as a “bearded man” to sink in.
Ridiculous. I’m 37 years old. Why should my ability to grow a beard be remarkable to anyone, myself included?
And then, just when I thought I’d done all the hard bits of growing a beard, a colleague of mine returned from holiday today and paused for a moment as he tried to remember who he thought I now looked like.
“Oh. I know…” said the Weapon of the Zombie Apocalypse after some consideration, “…you look like Sir Clive Sinclair”.
Reader, I nearly shaved on the spot… but then another colleague (separately, but also today) came up and told me that, with a trim and a black polo-neck, I’d be a dead-ringer for Steve Jobs. Now that’s a bit more like it. An improvement, anyway. Unless he meant Steve Jobs now…
To be honest, I was really going for a Leonidas…..maybe the beard just needs a little more time and then - what with my physique and all - everyone will be making that comparison.
I think I’ll keep it until we’re back from Austria on 28th January, but after that I reckon it will go. Still, it’s something every guy should do at least once in their lives, eh? If for no other reason than because we can.
It’s a man thing.
Besides, as Kristen Wiig shows here with Zach Galifianiakis, beards are sexy.....
[GJ thinks I look like this guy. I'm not having it. I think I'd rather look like Sir Clive Sinclair]