Friday, 18 April 2014

"Peak-Beard" or Beard Love?

Y'know when you're sort of listening to the radio but not really paying attention and then something makes you go 'whaaaaat?'? That happened to me the other morning while listening to the 'Today' programme and they had a daft article about the evolutionary imperative around beards. Yes, real science and stuff.

Let me explain. The 'Today' programme is a news magazine programme on BBC Radio 4 at breakfast time and I and millions of others listen to it every morning. I share everyone's irritation about the interviewers talking over the interviewees, the annoying 'Thought for the day' section and the failed horse racing tips. I can put up with that for the sometimes spot on interviews, breaking news and announcing the new David Bowie single in January 2013.

So there I was, in yawn-some mode and still half asleep when they start talking about beards and introduce an evolutionary scientist from the University of New South Wales talking about how we'd reached 'peak-beard' and men were starting to shave them off. Honest, that's what they said and you can listen here if you want to. It seems like there are so many beards around that there's no longer any evolutionary advantage to having one so men are shaving again. It's nice to know that scientists are on the ball and giving us the latest scoop on facial hair.

Now, I didn't know beardage was a global phenomenon. I've seen lots of beards around town and have, on occasion, wondered why. It makes sense in winter to have that extra bit of covering but I've never really thought of the beard as a fashion accessory. I was in Covent Garden the other day and lost count of the beards and, thankfully, the over-sculpted variety seems to have vanished in favour of just letting it grow (maaan). Here's a handy picture posted by the BBC to help you know what a beard is (isn't the Beeb thoughtful?).

I have a beard and have no intention of shaving it off. I'll trim it a few times during the year to keep it in prime condition and then stop trimming in October to allow me to move into full Santa Claus mode by Christmas. I shampoo it and sometimes condition it on special occasions, but that's it really.

I never meant to grow a beard - that implies a conscious decision to grow one. I simply stopped shaving for a few weeks and there it was. I was in hospital for a week and didn't shave and then, when I got home, couldn't move terribly well and couldn't lean forward over the basin to wet shave so didn't. Et voila! A beard was my reward. I'd never had a beard or more than a few days of stubble before so didn't know what to expect. I was surprised at the colour but. other than that, liked the natural shape that means I don't have much to do to keep it looking good.

Beards can be a good talking point on occasion. I shared the beard love with Woof (aka Luther Creek) in 'Hair' a few years ago when I danced on stage for the love-in at the end and that was nice. It was even nicer that *he* came up to *me* to compliment the beard. There's even a word for beard love - pogonophile.

You shave yours off if you want to, I'm keeping mine.

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