The wife is away again, but on her brief visit home, she announced something very troubling – she is intending to grow her grey hair out and go natural. Now I’ve got into trouble over this one before (see previous post), but the absolute FACT is that women just look older when they let themselves go grey (i.e. let themselves go), whereas some men look handsomer, wiser, hotter when they have some silver/grey/white.
I’m not keen on her doing it – I’m hoping she will see how bad it looks and get herself back to Toni and Guy asap. In my mind, I’ll end up with this for a wife…
Or worse, this!
The trouble is, I’ve been finding an increasingly plentiful sprouting of greys in my beard. I actually always thought I’d be alright with it, but I’m not.
So when she left, I did something a bit silly. Something I now regret.
I dyed it.
Now before you berate me for being a twat, in my defence, I did use proper man-beard dye.
The problem is, it didn’t turn out to be quite the shade I needed. In fact, I can’t imagine who this shade would have suited. I mean, who has natural burgundy hair? No one, that’s who! And now I have a burgundy beard! Burgundy!
Thank god it’s not permanent.
Feeling a bit stupid, I Googled ‘dyed beards’ and with much relief I now know it’s a thing. There are men out there that do it deliberately – wtabf?!
I came across this baffling article in Men’s Health link to article about different categories of men who have beards. Christ knows which one the man that wrote it would think I was, but I am most certainly not ‘Overzealous Beard Guy’! The reason my beard is burgundy isn’t because I want to draw attention to myself – believe me brother, I get more than enough attention already. It’s burgundy because I made a terrible, terrible mistake.
So I’ve been washing my beard over and over and I have decided to let the grey grow through, albeit with great trepidation. It occurred to me that I could look around for some silver-beardy role models. The obvious being Cloony (although his is a fairly embryonic, stumpy effort).
Then, as I was speeding through the local rag to the property section, I spotted a famous local celebrity. An icon of the literary world that had something more than the beard in common with me – the cunning use of his initials as his writer’s name. Mr C.J. Stone no less! Now, I hear he used to write a brilliant column for the Guardian back in the day. I never read it, but the wife did. Apparently, only to work out just how bad Whitstable was before we moved here. It was her that suggested I used his tactic for my own nom de plume. Not only does this venerable gent have an eerily similar name to me, he has a full and luxurious white beard!
Sooooo, once the dye had almost left the beard – just a few light burgundy (NOT pink) streaks in the silver bits now, I decided to approach C.J. Stone for a formal interview about why he decided to let his grey grow though, glean any advice about the emotional impact of ‘letting go’ and how he maintains his magnificent silver shade.
You have to understand that C.J. Stone is a very, very busy man. Not only does he still write lots and lots of stuff. He is also a postman and very active politically. So when I say ‘approach for an interview’, what I mean is ‘approach him on the street, as he’s doing his postal round’. I knew his route – spotted him as I was putting my kite together down at Swalecliffe. Not that I’m stalking him. So I parked up a couple of days ago and jogged over to him just as he was coming out of someone’s front gate.
I will give you the (abridged) version of the interview. You’ll get the idea…
CK Hi. Er, hi? Helloooo?
CK Um, I know who you are and I just wanted to say, er, great beard!
CJ Pardon? Did you say “beard”?
CK Yes, beard. Er, I was wondering – oh, yeah, I’ll wait here. Yep, I see the dog sign. Won’t follow you. Hate dogs. Ah, you’re back – I was wondering if I could ask you some questions….
CJ About beards? I don’t think about mine all that much. I can’t help noticing yours. Is that pink? Whatever made you want to dye your beard pink?
CK I wanted to ask you about going grey. If that’s ok? How was it for you? And it’s not pink.
CJ I started going grey in my 20s, so I was resigned to it at an early age. I already had the distinguished grey-streaks-at-the-temple-look when I was in my early 30s so I just had to get used to it. I try not to think about it most of the time…. until someone points it out to me that is. Look, I’m a little busy right now, do you mind if we…
CK So, what’s your advice to me about my beard going grey? I promise I’ll leave you alone after this. Right, yes, I’ll just stand here while you deliver the, you know, thing.
CJ My advice is to leave it alone. Never dye it under any circumstances, and especially not pink. Mine’s not grey anyway, it’s white, which is why my nephews used to call me Uncle Christmas. Goes well with the Royal Mail red jacket doesn’t it? Uncle Christmas, Father Christmas’ cooler younger brother. I once considered putting a black stripe in my hair, as contrast. That was my girlfriend’s idea, but it seemed too much like hard work to me. No matter how often you dye your hair, it will always grow out again, and even if the world thinks you’ve got different coloured hair, you know you haven’t really. It’s like a guilty secret you have to keep to yourself. What a sad life that would be. My view is that you should work with what the Universe gave you and not spend too much time worrying over appearances. It just seems like vanity to me. Personally I’ve got better things to think about… like delivering the mail. Now if you don’t mind….
CK It’s not pink! Er, sorry. I mean thank you, Mr. Stone.
CJ Who are you again? Are you one of my customers? Have we ever spoken before? I don’t think I recognise you. You need to catch me on a quiet day if you want a conversation with me, unlike today….
CK I won’t bother you again. Sorry – Sir.
Obvs we’ve become very close since then. Didn’t he go on and on? I think he’s lonely. It’s not like being a cop is it? Delivering letters. You don’t get a compardre. Someone to watch your back. Nope. It’s a lonely path posting stuff.
Might see if he wants to come and hang out, or start kite surfing. He’s kind of become my beard mentor. What a dude!
And lastly. Very embarrassing. I think I’m entering the male menopause. I stumbled across an article in the Daily Mail (it was just lying about – I absolutely do not buy it) by Dr Erika Schwartz who says it’s an actual thing. Well helloooo! You don’t need to tell me that love! God. These over-educated women! Well I’m definitely getting some of the symptoms. Not all of them. Like the ones that involve, you know, sex drive. Just the grumpiness, tiredness and irritability. Definitely not the ones that involve anything to do with sex. Nope.
Rather reluctantly, I visited the health food shop in town. Now I know I have had a bit of criticism before about my opinion of the lady in there. I think she seems very sweet and I did feel a bit guilty about what I said about her silver hair last time. Still think grey hair looks worse on women, but hey, that’s just my opinion! (Actually it isn’t – lots and lots of actual women think that too!)
So I asked her advice about my hormones and she said, ‘Mmm…clean diet, keep hydrated (non- caffeinated drinks), decent sleep and moderate exercise. I would recommend a good multi vit and mineral supplement if your diet’s a bit rubbish or if you are feeling stressed, you might benefit from some magnesium – it’s a great relaxation mineral.’ Then she looked at my beard and laughed. I still spent fifty quid in there.
So I’ve had a very boring few days, not drinking booze, coffee or eating nice food and drinking boring, boring water. Yes I do feel a bit less tired, but believe me, I’m twice as irritable! Grrr!
I might have a chat with some lads at the gym. See if they can get me something to perk up the man hormones. Lols!
Right, I’m off to shampoo my beard again. Almost all gone now…
Hopefully the wife won’t come home looking like this –
Publications *The Guardian Weekend*The Observer*The Big Issue*The Independent*The Independent on Sunday*The New Statesman*The London Review of Books*Mixmag*The Sunday Herald*The Times Literary Supplement*Prediction*Kindred Spirit*The Whitstable Times*Saga Magazine*Kent Life*The Whitstable Gazette*
Books *The Empire of Things (Gonzo Muiltimedia 2013)*The Trials of Arthur (with Arthur Pendragon: Big Hand Books 2010)*Housing Benefit Hill (AK Press 2001)*Last of the Hippies (Faber & Faber 1999)*Fierce Dancing (Faber & Faber 1996)*
“Wry, acute, and sometimes hellishly entertaining essays in squalor and rebellion.” Herald
“The best guide to the Underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx.” Independent on Sunday
“Passionately serious, irresistibly compelling, and hilariously good-humoured.” Professor Ronald Hutton, Bristol University
“Searching, funny, intelligent and illuminating.” Deborah Orr, The Independent.