Hair today gone tomorrow

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A FORMER work colleague once told me: “Never trust anyone with a beard. They’re clearly trying to hide something.”

He didn’t mean they were hiding an incriminating mole or scar, but he saw the growth of facial hair as an unconscious need to cover up a lie or hide a secret.

As he was a journalist, and not a psychologist, I took his comments with a pinch of salt – though the thought has stuck and pops into my head whenever I meet a man with a beard (when I meet a woman with a beard, I have completely different mindset. In that case, ‘her’ secret is pretty much out in the open).

Which is why my return to work this week sporting a beard (grown, not bought) was a big step. Twitter went haywire.

By end of the day it was trending. Okay, so it was Jeremy Paxman’s beard that was trending, but it was still a big deal.

Nothing bellows “I am man” more than a thick beard growth. Though in my case it didn’t so much bellow “I am man” as squeal it, and with a slight lisp. Not really that convincing.

Within a few days it dawned on me that the majority of beards sported by blokes are not manly unkempt things, but coiffured facial affectations. They need more petting and preening than your average Crufts poodle.

To a man, the beard-wearers I spoke to all had adjustable beard clippers at home.

These shaving devices kept the growth in check and helped “shape” the beard throughout the week.

And they still had to shave their necks and the upper parts of their cheeks, to avoid skin irritation and unsymmetrical lines! They stopped short at combing their facial fluff.

Well, they stopped short of telling me that they comb their beards, but they couldn’t hide the fact that they stroke them every five minutes.

My beard didn’t last the week. Given the pampering lavished on beards, I’d say they don’t so much bellow “I am man,” as shriek “I am John Inman.”

A psycho version of Countdown

CAN bullying ever be a good thing?

It’s the sort of question I’d put to the experts, but I suspect I know what their answer will be. Killjoys.

I mention it only because of a game that has been banned at our sons’ school which, in my eyes, had elevated bullying into an educational art form.

The game is called Red Letter. Perhaps its been banned at a school near you.

My wife described this “horrific” game to me.

The rules are a little hazy but, in essence, a number of random children are given a letter to remember, but are told not to tell anyone what that letter is, no matter what the provocation.

The letters, it turns out, form a word.

It is the job of the bullies to go around and grab the kids and, erm, extract the letter by any means necessary.

The first to beat out all the letters and solve the anagram is the winner. “Can you believe that?” said my wife shaking her head.

“Incredible,” I said, just about managing to hide my admiration behind a suitably concerned face with reciprocated headshake until she moved on.

But bullying with a bit of wordplay is surely better than a straight wedgie, isn’t it?

Instead of fighting bullying, perhaps elements can be incorporated that will educate.

Red Letter is clearly a psycho version of wordsearch.

In my day, all bullying did was increase my speed across open ground and hone my ability to talk my way out of trouble.

Had a little wordplay be introduced, well, perhaps that would have been a bonus. What do your reckon?