Robert Sutcliffe: Facial fashion stakes for men

The legendary Sunday Express Editor Sir John Junor certainly knew where he stood on beards

Sean Connery as Bond in 1964 with the Aston Martin

The legendary Sunday Express Editor Sir John Junor certainly knew where he stood on beards.

To say he didn't like them wouldn't be accurate.

He detested them and it would have been a brave reporter indeed or news executive who even dared to sprout the slightest hint of 'facial fungus'.

So when I saw the pictures of the BBC's famed inquisitor Jeremy Paxman with his now infamous beard Sir John's famous dictum: “Never trust a man with a bow-tie, Never trust a man with a beard’’ immediately came to mind.

The resultant coverage was enormous with the Daily Mail devoting a double page spread to leading actors, pop stars and so on with pictures of them with beards and clean-shaven.

Even Mick Jagger sported one though inevitably it was after he became famous. He would never have plucked up courage to field one in his early years. That would have been career death.

Can you imagine a bearded James Bond for example?

Jesus Christ undoubtedly sported one and the idea of him being clean-shaven is clearly sacrilege. But apart from him I am not sure it is a good idea.

I certainly cringe when I look at a thankfully, sideways photograph of my goodself when I very briefly grew a ‘semi-beard’, well, more a quarter one to be honest, many years ago.

Truth is few men improve their looks with one, but that urge to let it grow is like one of those manias which sometimes cannot be helped.

At this point it is always good to consult the ladies.

My newly married colleague Emma says her husband Chris would soon find himself in the West wing were he to attempt to grow one.

“OK for Father Christmas and perverts’’ is her withering putdown.

Other ladies seem to like a bit of stubble. On a train to Leeds recently three teenage girls were discussing a gently-bearded boy in their class.

“Oh, I think it adds a bit of interest and character to his face,’’ one said. Hmm.

Another middleaged lady had a rather different take, saying she felt a man with a beard was “trying to hide something’’.

So, a bit of stubble, OK, but full-grown beards don’t seem to win many fans. Emma, (again), “scratchy and uncomfortable’’.

And then there are the poor men who try but fail to grow one.

Remember Christopher Timothy, the actor who played vet James Herriot, lamentably failing to add more than a hint of stubble to his features when called upon to play Jesus Christ.

 

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