When was the last time you saw me clean shaven?" I ask J one Monday night.
"I can't remember," she says, with a lack of interest that I find disconcerting. Isn't she even slightly interested in how I look?
I suppose it's because I've been messing about with facial hair for three decades now, although I've never actually gone the full brush (1). Instead I have spent all that time in various stages of stubbliness (is that even a word? I'm saying it is).
There are several reasons for this. Most of them involve indolence. The idea of shaving every day is so dull, so mindboggingly boring that … well, I can't even be bothered to complete the sentence. Most of my life choices can usually be traced back to pure laziness.
Still, there are other reasons. Increasingly there's the fact I'm not sure I want to see myself clean-shaven any more. I'm frightened of the pasty-faced, jowly man who's hiding behind the undergrowth.
But there's also a tiny part of me who likes the idea of adorning myself with some kind of dandyesque facial adornment, even if I'm not really prepared to put in the time to achieve it.
I can trace this back to my father who, at a pivotal moment of my development, sported a moustache that both Emiliano Zapata and Tom of Finland would have been proud of (2). So my inherited vision of masculinity has always been … a bit hairy.
Everyone seems to think the same at the moment. Post-Paxman, all kinds of people are growing beards. I even noticed Tony Benn has one.
My problem is that I can never commit to going the distance. The minute I begin to look even slightly Grizzly Adams (3) I get the trimmer out.
Hold on a mo. It appears J is more interested in the subject - if not how it impacts on me - than I thought. She's just been telling me about the Victorian beard movement. It seems that up until 1850 facial hair was considered unseemly, only fit for artists and Chartists.
Only after the Crimean War did it became cool to look like someone had glued a goat to your face.
I like the idea of being associated with artists and Chartists, both of which I heartily approve of. Maybe it's time I fully committed to facial hair.
And so a month from now if you see a middle-aged man sporting a frankly inappropriate handlebar 'tache, give me a wave.
 I think I started stubbling up in the wake of George Michael. Look, I was young.
 Neither of whom I suspect my father would have approved of, to be honest.
 A reference nobody under 40 will get, I imagine.
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