I have grown a beard. The decision came from nowhere although was accompanied by an undertaking to my daughters that I would get an ear pierced. There was therefore a whiff of mid-life crisis in the air that day.
My hair growing prowess has never been strong. I have always been jealous of big haired continentals whose thatch resembled the tight weave of an expensive carpet. As regards to facial fuzz, I was unable to generate any meaningful 5 o'clock shadow without recognising a large time difference. A youthful attempt to grow a moustache lasted longer than it should have done, growth on my top lip being so patchy I had to perform a daily combover on my top lip with a toothbrush. My moustache kept me out of the job market during this period - I know this because on the day I shaved it off, I was offered a job.
I learnt early in the courtship of my wife that if she wanted a facial scrub, she would purchase one from Boots which felt so good you could eat it. Thus, heavy petting was verboten if there was any form of hairy resistance on my face likely to cause evidence of abrasion. My manly odour too could not compete with the apricot or other fruity odours available from the concotions purchased from Boots. Sensuous odours are of course key in the courtship process, a friend of mine advising me that his ardour would be inflamed if his wife wore bacon earrings (H Samuel - if you are reading this, please take note).
Whether I have mellowed with age or simply overlooked a universal truth, my beard has softened as it has grown. Although it does not have the sheer salon feel of a Persian cat after its regular bath, it does not cause the injury that stubble would do. This had to be the case or Mrs Brian Blessed and virtually all female nobility in Victorian times would not have been seen in public after heavy petting sessions.
My beard is still in its infancy. When I catch sight of myself in reflections, my instant reaction is shock followed by the type of reaction that Leslie Philips (of "Carry on Films" fame) gave when he met a beautiful woman. I hope I don't get found out.
I was confidently predicting that I would be pilloried at work given my newfound beardedness. I wasn't, although the only nay-sayer suggested that my head could be inverted with little effect on my appearance as there was more hair on my chin than on my head. I did partake in a beard softness test where an energetic French colleague concluded that I had the softest beard out of the recently bearded at work.
Now I can hold my beard high, Beard World presents style choices to the new wearer. Beginning at full beard, the wearer can adjust the beard to become the chin strap, goatee, the soul patch, the bulbo, the mutton chop and even the friendly mutton chop (I wonder whether it has a vegetarian alternative). The existence of many of these styles however reflect the fact that the wearer has no-one close enough to advise them they look ridiculous.
I have time to pick my beard style. The Mutton chop would best reflect the type of person I am - past my prime, a little tough and with a layer of fat.
I have not reached the trimming stage yet although have been lightly pruned by my wife in a bid to control the encroaching jungle. This is one of the many "for better, for worse" actions (together with ear and nose hair removal) she was required to sign up for when she married me.
Regular beard maintenance is required, a beardy friend telling me he had trimmed his man fuzz as he was going away for the weekend and did not want to look homeless. Such a commitment may be lead to the death of my furry front face.
With retirement, I will have the opportunity to grow the full Brian Blessed, knowing that I will be a shoo-in for Santa, should the need arise.
Overall, the jury is still out on my furry friend. While a welcome addition to my face covering up the developing jowls and thus creating a tamed wilderness on my face, the dangers of soup and snot are ever present turning it from the Good to the Bad and Ugly. If this happens, it would be a case of Hasta La Vista, Furry.