Sunday, 7 December 2008


I’ve occasionally wondered what I’d look like with facial hair, mainly because I’ve never had any. I wouldn’t have to wonder if I’d seen how it looks before, would I? I did go through a short and an ill-advised period of stubble a few years back. I’d been somewhere that had deprived me of the use of a razor for a week and quite liked the result. It made my gaunt face look a bit fuller. The only problem was that the hair on my face barely qualified for the title stubble. Downy fluff would be more accurate. It was too light and too soft. Put it this way, there was no way I was going to be able to ignite a match on it like hard men do in Westerns unless I doused myself in petrol first. And then sat under a magnifying glass in the midday sun. In the Sahara.

This has never been a problem. It would be nice to have the ability to grow stubble but I’m happy without it. Especially since those men who can grow stubble often have to deal with excess hair all over the place. I’m talking primarily about the back and shoulders. I won’t ever need to wax my shoulders and I’m happy about that. The only excess hair I’ll ever have to deal with is ear and nose hair if I ever become an old man and I certainly won’t worry about that. I’ll be too busy writing to the Daily Mail to complain about teenagers and the decline of British society in general to take any care in my appearance. Besides, my old man smell will probably be more of an issue.

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to a Facebook group called Movember, the aim being for members to grow a moustache throughout November and pay £5 to a Prostate Cancer charity whilst doing so. Well, why not? I joined up and waited for my ‘tache to arrive. Then I waited some more. And then some more….

It took a long time but after a couple of weeks it became apparent, to me at least, that I hadn’t just let myself go but was, in fact, growing a ‘tache. It didn’t look good. I looked like the kind of man that mothers might warn their children to stay away from, or those men, often called Kevin, who have left school but hang around the gates in their Vauxhall Novas trying to impress the schoolgirls. The average ten year old Indian boy has facial hair more impressive than mine was at that time. Never mind. Given another week my moustache would surely begin to assume the body and gravitas of, say, Stalin’s effort.

I was wrong. It actually got worse. On a night out with friends I was introduced to someone thus: “This is Ian. He’s doing that for charity”. I started doing this myself, informing anyone that I hadn’t seen for a while that the ‘tache was for a good cause and certainly not for aesthetic purposes. This explanation invariably drew a comment like “Oh, I see!” and an expression which showed that a particularly puzzling issue had just been resolved.

By the end of the month, however, I had become quite attached to my mo. I felt that, having spent a month growing it, it would be a shame to get rid of it, regardless of how silly I looked. I took the rather nonsensical view that I had suffered to get this far and maybe I should keep it. Just for a while.

The day before the end of the month was a Saturday and I spent the evening with a bunch of close friends I’ve known most of my life, none of whom had ever seen me with facial hair. They ridiculed me mercilessly all night. I didn’t mind this. I’m quite used to it. One single episode, though, was quite traumatising. I made a flirtatious comment to a barmaid. She made a flirtatious comment in return. I was just about to continue this brief dalliance when I realised that I was wearing a look that put a good eight years on me. I clammed up completely. The ‘tache had drained me of my confidence. The mo definitely had to go.

I’m now back to my old self. The mo is no more and won’t return. If it ever does then I’ll know that I have finally let myself go for good.