There’s something very strange about seeing your face again when you are used to a beard. I’ve worn a beard since 2003. Sick of shaving, I just let it grow, bought the now-dead beard trimmer and didn’t look back. I’ve shaved off my beard temporarily probably six or seven times now. Only once was it a choice. The other times, like Thursday night, it was a trimming error that left me with no choice.
But one thing I’ve noticed each of those times was how my face looks different underneath the beard each time. I look older. It’s a weird thing about shaving off the beard. At a quick glance, I look younger, as most people tend to do when they lose a beard. But a long, hard, self-loathing filled gaze in the mirror, and I notice the ageing that my beard ordinarily hides. It doesn’t hide it completely, of course; there’s an ever-growing amount of grey hairs in my beard. I don’t really find that a problem, though. It’s not that I’ve actively looked forward to having grey hair, but I always liked my grandfather’s hair when I was a kid, so I’ve always thought that grey hair looked good.
I am, though, very much aware of being one of those guys who has had a beard all his life. There are two types, I think. The first type, is the Alan Sugar type. One of those people who had a fairly neat beard in younger life and kept it. Now it’s grey and a kinda pointless thing on his face. It’s so short it might as well not be there, but – and this is my fear – it’s a facial crutch. Nope, I’m not going down that road. The road I will go down, I think, once the beard is mostly grey, is the big pottery-making, trawler-sailing, beard. My friend Kraig has a big grey beard, and it’s something to aim for. Barring other trimming accidents or a run for political office, I can’t foresee me ever not having a beard for the rest of my life.
Good-bye lower half of my face. Forever.