18th November 2013

Beards: the real winter warmer

A beard isn’t just for Christmas, says Jack Metcalfe: it’s a whole lifestyle.

Having failed to commit to a clean shave for the past three and a half years, I may not be the most impartial commentator on the subject of men’s facial hair. However, you may have noticed that the temperature in Manchester is starting to get a bit chilly – and what better way to deal with a cold chin than leaving it to its own devices in developing a luscious thatch of hair? At this point, I should state that I do realise there may be some unfortunate gents reading this for whom growing a beard is merely a pipe dream. Don’t worry, guys: it was just never meant to be. However, if a distinctly sleazy, pubescent moustache is attainable, November is as good a time as any to try it.

There are more than just purely practical reasons for this epilation-dodging adventure. Let’s face it: beards look really rather tasty if looked after properly. I’ve seen many fine beards around campus, but I’ve also noted a fair few unfortunate, scraggly attempts. Therefore, for those of you who haven’t tried this kind of project before, you’ll need to take note of a few important pointers.

Make sure you have an electronic beard trimmer with an array of different grades for the purposes of experimentation. Treat your beard like you would your own child. It needs frequent attention and affection, meaning lots of visits to your local mirror. You will quickly learn, if you haven’t already, that different patches of hair on different parts of your chin, neck and cheeks grow at varying viscosity and at different velocities. This gives you an opportunity to be an artist of sorts – and with make-up an option that many men would not contemplate, a beard is the perfect chance to take your face into your own hands. I can guarantee that you will soon notice various love interests attempting to snuggle up to your furry face in order to share in the warmth and satisfaction of your accomplishment.

I’m under no illusions: you definitely shouldn’t be taking merely my word for it. According to the French poet, novelist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, “There is always a period when a man with a beard shaves it off. This period does not last. He returns headlong to his beard.” Would you question the words of a French poet, novelist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker? I don’t think you would.

There is an important lesson to take away from all of this. A beard could be the start of something special for some of you. It is not a fashion trend, subject to the whims of “what’s hot” and “what’s not”: rather, it is a lifestyle choice that will benefit both yourself and your loved ones.

However, for many of you it could just be a depressingly emphatic confirmation of a depleted testosterone reserve.

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