Do you say sideburns or sideboards? At this time of year it becomes an increasingly familiar sight to see a young man walking past sporting Edwardian style whiskers as an indication to the world that he has chosen to refrain from shaving in support of the annual push by the charities that promote awareness of men’s health. ‘Movember’ has taken off in a big way and is a cheap and cheerful method of getting a crucial message across to men. Then, last weekend whilst out shopping, as one such bearded chap passed us with his partner and children, I wondered if he too was supporting the campaign, or had chosen to naturally wear his whiskers proudly as some of us used to do.
In the late 70’s-early 80’s I wore a moustache. In 1979 I was married wearing my moustache. To this day I still don’t know why I subjected the world to my hairy under-nose extension, though on reflection, my late first wife did seem to have a penchant for men with facial hair, all the same I’ve yet to meet another. I think it’s a ‘Marmite’ kind of a thing: one simply likes or dislikes a hairy chin or upper lip: or both. My cousin Michael used to wear a very upwardly curling moustache that wouldn’t be amiss in an old Victorian photograph, nonetheless that seemed too much like hard work to me, as it required a great deal of care and attention, which may also have included waxing. I’ve yet to meet the man who might confess to wearing a moustache net at bedtime, as was common practice at the turn of the last century. Mine was a simple affair: straight up and down, with a bit of trimming required from time to time. I once grew a full beard for a part in a stage production which has to be one of the most uncomfortable and itchy experiences of my life. Beards are not for me. Though I recently donned a fake beard for a calender shoot in which I portray the likeness of John Lennon, circa 1969. Does that count?