Bearding II.

thumb_COLOURBOX5661662 - CopyTyping ‘why grow a beard’ into Google brings up some bizarre and entertaining results. Number one: ‘Want to look older and more aggressive? Grow a beard’. Number three dares you to grow epic: ’10 very good reasons why you should grow a giant beard’. I like number seven the most: ‘7 reasons to date a guy with a beard: Research shows that growing a beard keeps a guy younger-looking and cancer-free’. Contradictory advice on the affects of ageing but at least, as a beard wearer myself, I can consider myself immune to the big C (possibly).

It’s been nine months since I last shaved and the benefits have been many.

It’s taken me to grow a beard combined with turning 30 to bring an end to shop assistants asking me for ID for the purchase of four tinnies of Boddingtons and as someone who can’t sit still, it has given me a constant source for fiddling with; at my desk at work (suggests I’m deep in thought – tick), whilst watching TV and, erm,while I attempt to string together blog posts about beards…

why-to-grow-beardThere are minor drawbacks. My flatmate isn’t overly enamored with how long I spend trimming my chin locks in the bathroom and once compared discovering a stray facial hair to finding a spider’s leg in the sink. More of an irritant to me is cosying up with the duvet or a sleeping bag around my chin. It makes my bristles wiggle in somewhat uncomfortable fashion. The same effect is caused by bubbles in the bath getting all up in my face. Nonetheless, I’m committed to its longevity, albeit not quite on the same scale as the folks I met at Yorkshire Beard Day in Scarborough recently.

Organised by bearded people for bearded people, with a bearded band playing, beard t-shirts and badges for sale and, for the beardless, a generous supply of felt for cutting into the shape of a beard for the day, all proceeds went to Prostrate Cancer UK. It was the third time the event had been held by chief beard wearer, local man Anthony Springall, who works as a cake designer. A noble effort by the bearded community, make no mistake, but it was also a chance for egos to go to war. There was some serious bearding in the room, each man out to impress the others with the sheer manliness and coolness of their facial styling.

One chap mooched about the room wearing plastic curlers – like those you see the girls in Corrie wearing (in the hair on top of their heads obviously) in the salon – in his scraggly grey arrangement. Being early on in the proceedings, I asked if the curlers were installed to prepare his voluminous locks for judging later on. No, I was told, this was just his look. Okay. Someone might having been pulling my leg.

IMG_20140410_120552It’s hard not to stare at a brilliant beard. There was one slender gent, wearing braces over his short sleeved shirt, with an equally slender brown-haired beard that trailed neatly and perfectly column-like down to his waist. But my favourite was the epic effort sported by 31-year-old Andy Teague, pictured here, who is president of The Wessex Beardsmen, a branch of The British Beard Club and who took part in The World Beard and Moustache Championships in Germany last year.

I was staggered by the complexity and tidiness of his beard, and couldn’t help but ask to have my photo taken with him. He didn’t mind at all, and told me how he had driven seven hours up from Chad in Somerset with his wife and kids to be at the event. It had taken his wife two hours, using some form of gluing technique, to arrange his beard into the circular shapes which matched the shape of the lenses of his sunglasses. I believe this look falls into the steampunk category.

By mid-afternoon, 80 people had registered their beards as competitors across seven categories of beards. Despite encouragement from one of the organisers I decided not to enter my amateur beard into the King George V section.

Stylist for the day, Dawn Louise Cooper, who owns Scene hair salon in Scarborough, told me about the popularity of the event. A stylist of some repute herself, she has styled the hair of The Seahorses front man Chris Elms and has worked with celebrities such as Kerry Katona.

“It’s the Richard V category that usually the most popular but longer beards seem to be growing in popularity this year. Beards are bang on trend. A lot of beard wearers have a bit of an alternative look but beards seem to have gone a bit ‘David Beckham’ I think and the word has spread about this event and there’s more people here this year.”

I was unperturbed by joining the ‘masses’ of new beard wearers, not least because Dawn encouraged me to enter the competition, but I couldn’t help but feel out of depth in terms of chin prowess in this room in Scarborough. For now I’ll indulge in the weird and the wonderful of all things beard. To sign off, here’s a bit of light, factually accurate reading from Buzzfeed on why beards rule.

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