I rather overdid my beard trimming today. Although I’ve had a beard for about 45 years (shaved off once or twice – see below), I haven’t quite mastered the skill of keeping it just the right length.
So, today, I’m wearing what used to be called “designer stubble” or rather “undesigner uneven and patchy facial growth”
One time, in Trinidad, I shaved it off completely – late one evening – my pallid white chin looking like something you’d find under a stone – my sons, who were very young and who had never seen me clean shaven, were scared the next morning. “Mum!” they cried to their Mother – and they literally were weeping – “Mum! Who’s that strange man? Where’s Dad gone?”
Later that day, I was chairing a Church meeting. One of the Elders came in late, took his seat, listened intently to what was being discussed for ten minutes, then gaped at me quizzically. After the meeting, he came up to me and said that he thought that I was a visiting Minister from the “Overseas Council of the Church of Scotland!
I usually started growing in the whiskers again soon after the depilation has taken place.
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.
Beards can cause confusion indeed!
Cathie Adams, former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, stated in her speech“Radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood” that a beard is a sign of a man’s Muslim identity.
In the speech, which is posted online by the Far North Dallas Tea Party, Adams can be heard saying that Grover Norquist, a conservative Republican and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is showing signs of being Muslim, citing his beard as evidence. Norquist is “trouble with a capital T,” Adams added, “As you can see he has a beard, and he’s showing signs of converting to Islam himself.”
I rather like this story:
A woman is travelling by bus in the Pennsylvania , when a man gets on and sits down next to her. He’s wearing a black hat, long black coat, black trousers and shoes, and he has a long curly dark beard.
The woman looks at him disgustedly. “Jews like you,” she hisses at him.
He looks up at her, puzzled, and says, “I beg your pardon, madam?”
She says, “Look at you. All in black, a beard, never take off your hat! It’s Jews like you that give the rest of us a bad name.”
He says calmly, “I beg your pardon, madam, but I am not Jewish. I’m Amish.”
The woman looks back with a smile and says, “Oh, how nice. You’ve kept your customs.”
Me – as a student
I came across this recently: it’s written by the medical historian Alun Withey:
“By 1850 doctors were beginning to encourage men to wear beards as a means of warding off illness.”
More than just a symbolic gesture to ward off ill health, historian Christopher Oldstone-Moore of Wright State University suggests that beards were viewed as a type of filter pre-empting the mouth and nasal passages. This theory is underlined by an obsession with air quality throughout the Victorian era, Oldstone-Moore claims. Thick beards filtered impurities from being inhaled into the body.
Other doctors of the time period thought of beards in a more literal sense, as a sort of blanket or hat for your face and neck — nature’s scarf. A thick beard could relax a stiff and sore throat — great for singers and public speakers.”