Column: The Beard

This column first appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post…

It is Monday morning and I have a difficult decision to make. My girlfriend and I are buying a house and it’s gone to a bidding war. Uncertainty and tension fills the air around us as we frantically calculate what we can stretch to. It’s coming to the wire. A decision needs to be made. I reach for a last-ditch stroke of my face and…

“No,” I say with a sudden confidence, “It’s too much. The beard has spoken. We’ll find something else” and my girlfriend rolls her eyes and walks away.

I have grown a beard and it has changed my life.

I hadn’t asked for this. A forgotten razor during a Christmas trip abroad had left me no choice but to accept the arrival of some facial furniture. I’d planned to shave on my return – until I realised I’d inadvertently joined a group of wise and noble men. Complex situations, way beyond the grasp of mere mortals, suddenly came easy to me. Some are born great, some have greatness grown on their face.

A drizzly Tuesday, just last week, I happened upon a bearded parking warden taking a motorist to task.

“I’d just popped into the shop,” he pleaded, and I believed him. I knew I had the power and I couldn’t walk on by.

“This man just popped into the shop,” I said, cutting through the conflict with a bearded majesty, “It would be unfair to punish him for such a brief stop.”

The warden eyed me up and down, assessing each hair, computing my status.

“Very well, sir” he conceded as his shoulders dropped, “On your way, squire”.

“Thank you,” he gasped desperately, “whoever you are.” But my eyes were fixed on the warden as he gave a nod of admiration. I’d done what I had to do and he knew it. I’d used my powers for good.

It’s not just status. The beard offers practical solutions that ‘cleanies’ (this is what we call the hairless) could only dream of. Sunday lunch with the family always ends with leftover food. While the others labour over tupperware tubs and wrapping chicken in tin foil, I recline in front of the television, smug in the knowledge that I have everything I need for later, tucked neatly into my furry companion. Recoil in disgust all you want. Later, when that peckish feeling overcomes us, I am the one with a chunk of chicken at hand.

It is no surprise that I now find myself on a higher social standing. Beards have played a pivotal role in the development of mankind. In the age of the Celtic tribes, Otto the Great would swear by his beard when declaring something serious. In the middle ages, touching another man’s beard, presumably in an attempt to steal his leftover chicken, was deemed a great offence and often resulted in a duel. Not to mention how much better looking I am now. A study by the University of New South Wales found that heavy stubble-to-light beard was the optimum way for a man to wear his face.

And just take a moment to consider all the things you could have achieved in the time spent shaving. Just last week, I completed the building of a small fort from sticks I’d found in the garden. You and your smooth chin will be sorry if we’re ever invaded.

It is no coincidence that I am now excelling. A brief glance into the history of bearded men puts them head and shoulders above the rest. Hippocrates. Lincoln. Monet. Jesus. Mr T. The sooner you come to terms with it, the better.

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By Darryl Morris

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