AFTER a warning from the appearance monitor (“you look scruffy”), the stubble of shame went. My cheeks were mostly smooth when I worked on the newspaper. Wednesdays were razor-free thanks to an early start and a heavy deadline, but other days were respectable.
This redundant summer has seen me shave less often. Perhaps those bristles are a statement, facial stigmata to signify my present circumstances. Either that or I have been a bit of a lazy arse as I sit here writing.
The razor-meet-face encounter yesterday came about because we had a day out in Salford to see the middle boy. Our eldest son hitched a lift as a surprise for his brother, and during the day we met our daughter, who was in Manchester with her grandmother/my mother.
Such a family occasion warranted a shave and the bristles went. A day later the face is smooth with only the slightest rasp, so there will be no repeat set-to in front of the mirror this morning.
Beards may be all the hairy rage nowadays but I won’t be going that far. Too many suspect hairs in there for a start. You could call them blond but that would be to do grey a disservice.
I have had only one outbreak of facial topiary in a lifetime. The evidence exists in old photographs best forgotten. If you want to know what I looked like, picture a garden gnome with a suntan. The beard sneaked on to my otherwise youthful face during a long and long-lost holiday to Australia. It was removed on my return and remains nothing more than a ridiculous memory. So no to beards, although stubble has its manly attractions, or so some of us shave-dodgers maintain.
It is interesting that stubble should for me be connected to lack of full employment. On Thursday I have an interview – not, as my squash partner misunderstood, a job interview but the other sort. Asking questions instead of answering them; another spot of freelance work. So the razor will definitely be out again by then.
After a few days off, we have a new guest tonight, visiting from Australia. The past two weeks were given over to a teacher from Spain who stayed with us not through Airbnb but another source, while on a course in York. A friendly and engaging man, he sported greying stubble, as it happens. The stubble of holiday, perhaps.
After a few shaky starts – “I so sorry, can you repeat” – many good conversations were had with César. It was enjoyable to have someone in the house to send mealtime exchanges in a different direction, nudging us away from the comfortable bumps and furrows of habitual chat. Even if a lot of decent meals had to be provided instead of the usual whatever waltz or fridge/freezer shuffle. I have never cooked so much at a stretch.
Under different circumstances we wouldn’t have entertained our good man from Spain. And we wouldn’t have filled the house with guests from all over the world or met so many interesting people. Something good arises from something bad. Even if a bit of stubble comes along too.
Like an unmown lawn, the bristles will grow back. Perhaps a lawn metaphor is not the best choice as my wife does that job. But not the shaving. You will be glad to hear I do that all by myself.
A ‘shaver’, incidentally, is an old term for a young lad, one who has only just started shaving. Nowadays the shavers grow beards and the older men shave (when they can be bothered, that is).