If you ever see me in the street, which I do hope you don't, you'll notice just by looking at my face that I have had happier days.

It's not because I am walking around under a permanent cloud like a Flump or Morrissey, I'm not.

It's not because I have one of those faces that when it's in it's relaxed state invites complete strangers to pass comment on how I should "cheer up", or reassure me that "it might not happen" or inform me of the curious biological fact that "it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile".

As Bill Hicks once observed "You know it takes more energy to point that out than it does to leave me alone?"

NB: This happens to me a LOT. It always has. 
In fact, I remember when asked what she would like to see before she died, my Great Aunt Ada once said it was to see me smile.

What?? I was about six years old and perfectly fucking happy playing with my Lego, thank you very much! Sheesh!

Anyway, it's none of that. The reason that you'd notice I've been a bit of a grumpychumps is because I have grown a beard.

A bald man with a beard.
What a cliché.

I look forward to all the hilarious comments about having my head on upside down or how my fringe has slipped over my fucking nose. Go on, knock yourselves out.

Beards are usually an indicator of some kind of sadness or loss. Not always, but usually...

There's the dishevelled five o'clock shadow, sported by the likes of former Sun journalist Paul McMullen and former Snappy Snaps customer George Michael, which indicates a reluctance or inability to remember details like bribing, hacking, parking, sleeping or shaving.

There's the goatee - as sported by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski - which shows a certain level of competence and attention to detail coupled with a feeling of "ahhh, fuck it - that'll do.."

The goatee is not only popular with bald men and hippies, but also big fat knackers like Keith from The Office as it gives the illusion of a chin.

In any fashion (for want of a better word) there are always those that abuse the notion of the subgroup to which they belong - in his case they are the Hipsters.

Hipsters like to spout facial hair ironically, either waxing the tips of their moustaches or growing Amos Brierly-style muttonchops, all in the name of jazz-cool irony.

Ironically, the only thing ironic about how these uber-cool douches sport their face-sproutings is that in an effort to appear counter-culture and beyond convention, they have adopted the precise fashions of their parents - as this fabulous website shows.


But then there are the Big Guns.

The David Bellamies.
The Buster Merryfields.
The Brian Blesseds.

Proper men with proper beards.

Beards that could could pull a ship.

Beards that could beat out a fire.

Beards start from the eyes and spread like wild brambles, sometimes having to be stuffed into clothing like a duvet into it's cover in order to stop it whipping passers-by off their bikes in high winds or confusing birds looking for a safe place to nest.

But be warned. You could be minding your own business when that freak wind pushes you over and before you know where you are you are trapped in Brian Blessed's beard for years... and no-one would ever hear your muffled cries. Apart from that confused entangled chaffinch who is now your lifelong neighbour...

I'm quite envious of the Big Guns. I don't think I could ever grow a beard quite so impressive. Although my beautiful tiny ex-girlfriend's beautiful tiny daughter has a different view. She drew this the other day - it's what I will look like at the age of 54 (randomly enough) if I don't shave my face.

I was also informed that  look like Count Olaf from Lemony Snickett's A Series Of Unfortunate Events...   I think it is safe to assume she's not a fan of the beard.

In fact I'd say most kids aren't. They look at you as if something has gone wrong with your face, which it has to a certain extent, and then after giggling behind their hands at the dead weasel balancing on your chin they begin to get a bit unnerved.

"Why is it still there?" they think, "This joke isn't funny any more... TAKE IT OFF!!"

That's when I have to explain that unlike most people I don't have the luxury of choosing a new haircut every couple of months, so I have to shave, sculpt and cultivate my face-forest. And then buy them some sweets to stop them crying.

NB: Always make sure the child has stopped crying when you go to the shops. 
A beardy man buying a crying child sweets is NOT  a good look.

I went to visit my youngest brother the other week and his four year old twin boys had plenty to say on the subject of their Uncle's facial topiary.

My favourite nephew thought it was "Just yuk..." whereas his twin brother's considered opinion was that I was now "Too bristly for kissing".

Out of the mouths of babes!
Absolutely spot on there, young whatever-you're-called... Twin Two.

You see, growing a beard is a completely selfish action. It's a shield. A guard. A hirsute barrier that less-than-subtly tells people to keep the fuck away. "I'm not feeling cuddly and kissable", it says, "I don't particularly want to be hugged right now, so please jog on."

I mean, ladies. Would you want a snog off any of that lot??

And look at all the bad guys in history, you'll see facial hair in all it's various incarnations.

Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Ayatollah Khomeini, Noel Edmonds, Charles Manson, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Emperor Ming, Hulk Hogan in Rocky III, Robert Mugabe, Judas Iscariot, Blackbeard the Pirate, Mr T in Rocky III, The Master off Doctor Who, Rasputin, ZZ Top, Henry VIII, Jeremy Beadle, The Yorkshire Ripper, Bill Oddie - all fans of facial hair.

All "too bristly for kissing" and all evil, I think we can all agree.

In fact, according to Uncyclopedia I am not the first to have noticed this:

"The Evil Beard Theory, brainchild of George Orwell, states that a man's beard is directly proportionate to his evilness (man + lengthofbeard = evilness:cleanshaven / goodness). 

Thus every man who has a beard of any length is at least 1% eviler than his non-bearded counterpart. 

It was originally thought that no bearded man could exceed 100% more evilness than non-bearded man." 

Or, as the pixie-shoed pop-philosopher Marc Bolan once said, "I've got stars in my beard and I feel real weird..."

Ooh, I almost forgot Simon Cowell.

Oh yes. Simon Cowell has a beard.

He loves a 'beard'. He has loads of 'beards'.
Oh yes. Loads. Look at his many, many 'beards'.....

NB: I'm using 'beard' as a slang term here.

But back to hairy faces, an it is a well known fact that men look scarier with a beard (and I'm not talking about Sinitta)....

Every man, that is, apart from Matthew "Stars With Eyes" Kelly, who was all lovely with a beard and became much more sinister and scarier after a glide with the old Wilkinson's Sword.

However there is one type of beard that is the exception that proves the rule. One that is neither threatening, nor sinister, nor evil. Just a bit silly.

I refer you to - THE CRAIG DAVID:

The Craig David is a pathetic magna-doodle of folicle folly that turns the otherwise masculine man mane into a fuzzy chinstrap. It's one step-up from drawing a moustache on your face with your mum's eye-liner. It's the dot-to-dot beard equivalent of borrowing your Dad's suit and lowering your voice to try and get served in a pub. It's a rumour of a beard that craves attention, and therefore deserves none.


So there you have it. My Beard Theory.

I think you'll find that as a theory that it's as watertight as an otter's pocket. If you see a man with a beard or a moustache he just wants to be left alone, he doesn't want a hug, he may be a despot or a soft soul sap, but one thing is assured - The Hairy-Faced Man doesn't want you to talk to him.

Well, apart from Santa.

And Papa Smurf.

And Magnum P.I.

Oh, and Jesus....

Back to the drawing board...

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