As anyone who has seen me out and about will know, I have a beard and have had one since I was 19.
It isn’t a particularly nice beard – it’s like a garden broom with half its bristles missing – but when you’ve a face as unattractive as mine it is wise to cover it, so my beard is a disguise to mask the fact that what lurks underneath is quite unpleasant.
I have shaved it off only once – for my mother’s 60th birthday party.
‘Just for me,’ she pleaded, before adding with her usual tact, ‘because at the moment you look like a tramp.’
However, for my mother’s sake, I did what she asked and shaved – and immediately regretted it. On my first public outing without facial hair, I walked to the shops and a young child passing by physically recoiled, began crying and had to be comforted by his mother.
So you get the idea – I have a beard and always will. Or at least that’s what I thought.
On Saturday morning, a little bleary-eyed and tired, I picked up my beard-trimmer. I use it every three weeks or so to tidy my facial hair up, just like one would trim a privet hedge when it becomes particularly unkempt.
I always have the same setting on my beard trimmer – 8mm (exciting detail) – which means when I run the razor over my face, that is the length of hair left on.
So, with a graceful sweep of my hand I ran the razor over my left cheek … only to see, with a mixture of surprise, confusion and horror, a huge chunk of hair drop off and land with a plop in the sink.
I glanced down at the razor and saw the safety setting had been knocked off and was now zero. I looked back to the mirror to discover the left side of my face was clean-shaven.
I charged into the bedroom where Mrs C was midway through changing the nappy of our daughter, Mary.
‘Have you seen this?’ I screamed hysterically, like I’d been the victim of a knife attack.
‘What?’ said Mrs C, not even glancing up from wiping a large chunk of faeces from Mary’s left buttock, while Mary was crying and repeatedly shouting ‘Peppa Pig’.
‘This’, I cried and pointed at my bald face.
Mrs C finished dabbing Sudocrem on Mary’s bits and looked up. ‘Why have you shaved one side of your face? You look stupid,’ she said, helpfully.
I explained, slightly impatiently and angrily, that my current look wasn’t intentional and asked who the hell had been fiddling with my razor.
‘Ah, that’ll be Mary,’ said Mrs C, without the slightest concern in the world, ‘she was messing about with it this morning.’
I wanted to scream at the top of my voice, ‘why on earth didn’t you tell me?’ but it didn’t seem right to chastise Mrs C about something she wasn’t really responsible for and I sensed lecturing a 23-month-old child on why it isn’t acceptable to adjust the safety setting on a Braun XR215 Beard Trimmer might go over her head.
To cut a long story short I spent the next 45 minutes trying to even up the damage by shaving off roughly the same amount of hair on the right side of my face, so that, eventually, I was left with a kind of odd-misshapen goatee beard that no man – well, no man who wasn’t suffering from a severe mental health issue – would ever sport.
When I went for a family meal later that day, the first thing my sister said on opening the door was ‘wow, what have you done to your face? You look like George Michael in 1988’ – which isn’t exactly the kind of comment that instils confidence.
I am hoping my beard grows back very quickly.
Until then I have taken to wearing a balaclava in public, which doesn’t, let me tell you, go down very well at the local bank.