Retrospective blog from 2011
I seem to have a knack of not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A rather last minute change of plan meant that I made a quick dash to Glasgow just before the riots occurred. I’ve always thought that Scottish men are very manly. Indeed, Scottish men have been voted the manliest men in the world. I’m not surprised to hear that! Compared to my recent stay in Italy, it’s easy to see. I don’t think I saw anyone walk in the rain for fear of ruining ‘the look’. In Glasgow, I have seen a number of men running marathons on the street in buckets of rain. It’s actually quite attractive, but I noticed something else about these, ‘manly men’. More and more men are growing beards and I think it’s set to spread throughout the UK.
According to the Times, it’s a growing national trend, and all the cosmetic companies are in fear of losing their newly founded market. I thought this new awakening and maybe fleeting attraction was merely the result of my monthly cycle. However, it seems I’m just part of a trend set by the depression; a polarization of the genders. Obviously all women wading through the depression are in need of a hero, I consider Barbie and G.I Joe (with a beard) as the best example of the new trend. The theme tune could only be sung by Bonnie Tyler.
I have established there are five types of men with beards and facial hair. I’m not including the kind of bum fluff that Justin Beiber needs to shave. They are; trendy stubble, wild bohemian, elderly wisdom, distinguished gentleman and hobo scruff.
Starting with designer stubble, consider the example of Hugh Laurie in his role as Doctor House. Or if you’re not careful guys, there’s the gay stereotype, step forward George Michael. Or the unfeasibly and heart-breakingly handsome Tom Ford. But this is a sore point for me and my soft face. It looks attractive, but it’s akin to a child’s fascination with a hot plate on the cooker. It’s fascinating to see, it desires to be touched, but it’s bound to burn later, Sitting on the fence with facial hair just isn’t right, it should either shaved off to Gillette four-blade-precision, or grown just long enough to be soft. Even compared to the category of hobo scruff, it’s still my least favourite.
Of course, I wouldn’t be attractive to those sporting the hobo scruff style alla My Twit from Dahl’s’ ‘The Twits’. Thanks to Dahl’s story-telling, I’m still fascinated with scruffy beards and have been since my childhood. I always used to wonder if men with beards could store crumbs for snacks, the odd cornflake or crisp.
Although, this shouldn’t be confused with wild Bohemian, the most relevant example is Keith Farnel, a comedian from Ireland. I recently had the (mis) fortune to be picked on during his stand-up routine. I rather excitedly put my hand up when he asked the audience, “Who thinks they have the best job in the world”. I was thinking of the day job at the time, but I realised not many had put their hands up, either they were smarter than me, or just miserable. This type of beard is much neater and softer, the likes of which is seen on professional men, such as, lawyers, engineers, encouraged into the normality of 9-5, who would happily live without any of the prestige or money to be, well, a stand-up comedian and happy. I know such types from real life; you meet them in book shops, at poetry readings and in cool jazz music shops or music festivals.
The best example of ‘distinguished gentleman’ I can provide, given my current location, could only be Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This man has a restrained elegance, one that has gone out of fashion. I can only think of a few living examples. An old school friend of mine, even though he is younger than me, had these qualities, even at 15 years of age. This leads to me suspect these men enter the world with beards, moustaches and received pronunciation.
As for ‘elderly wisdom beard’, this is usually only seen once a year on Christmas day or in the Worthington sweet adverts. Saint Nicolas, or at least the modern incarnation we all know and love, has a long, white beard. Although, ‘elderly Wisdom beard’, is also worn by some real fruit cakes. Yet the effect is the same, not a single person would dare to question a man with a long white beard and a twinkle in his eye. After all, who wants to wake up on Christmas day with a lump of coal in their sack?