I'VE lost count of the number of times I've been asked the same question recently.
Not "Is your dad even half as handsome as you?", "Do you know the way to San Jose?" or even "Are you the victim of PPI mis-selling?".
Rather, I've been constantly badgered about whether I'm growing my hair. Beyond the clumsiness of such an inquiry - hair grows all by itself, numbnut - what strikes me most is that it merely illustrates how unremarkable I've become in my middle youth, as if the wispy filaments that sprout from my noggin at a snail's pace are the sole attribute worthy of comment. I'm not blaming anyone but myself, mind.
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I can see where they're coming from. For reasons best kept between me and my therapist, I have of late resisted the lure of the barber and let my genes run rampant, or at least meander in a direction of their own choosing. The result, when paired with the late-eighties Ray-Ban Aviators I've recently embraced again, is somewhere between Michael Douglas circa Black Rain (and that's on a good day) and Farrah Fawcett with all the gloss, length, colour, life and glamour subtracted.
I've tried to throw some bounce into the mix by walking 20 minutes to the underground station on my way to work, with scant success. Given the recent warm weather, the main consequence of this activity has been a wet neck and a mop glistening as if strewn with cobwebs. Not good.
Tucking the heavy wings behind my lugs is a must if I'm to get away with sporting this do in any shape or form; otherwise it strays into Engelbert Humperdinck territory, or Roxy-era Brian Eno if you factor my timid hairline into the equation.
As for the back, it's past caring.
Why, I hear you cry in a misguided attempt to care, persist with such a foolish mission? I suppose it's the contrarian in me, the same masochistic logic that impelled me a couple of years ago to sweat out the summer beneath the longest beard of my life.
The simple fact is that if you're a man aged 35 or above, you and hair probably don't get on any more. If not already bald, you're well on your way to losing it - a liberation, if you're being optimistic - or you'll spend the rest of your life apologising for what remains, mindlessly pinballing between three cuts: very short, short and in-need-of-a-trim. There's no getting away from it: it's a bore.
All told, the more I'm asked if I'm growing my hair, the more likely I am to let nature take its course. So stop asking, for all our sakes.