nichollsretirementproject

Archive for the tag “Oh What a Lovely War”

What is the point …

… of shaving?

Some men do it every day!  Why!  What is wrong with them?

What is the point in spending time every day scraping your face with a sharp blade until it is as smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom, only to find that six hours later it feels like sandpaper again? And the next day you have to do it all over again!  Crazy!

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As you might have guessed, I’m still grieving for my lost beard.  And with good reason.

I started growing it when I did VSO for the first time.  That was in the Sudan in 1972.

Now that I am old and grey, I can confess that, when I got the letter from VSO informing me that they were going to send me to the Sudan, I wasn’t even sure on which continent the Sudan would find itself.  I had opened the letter in the canteen of my university hall of residence where I was having breakfast.

I showed the letter to a fellow student who was sharing my table, and asked him casually if he knew anything about the country.  I will never forget his prophetic words.  He raised one eyebrow, passed the letter back to me and said “It’s bloody hot there, mate!” And so it was!

Khartoum, where I was based, was so hot that you sweated all day and sweated all night.  Shaving and sweating at the same time just resulted in a nasty rash, so I left the beard to grow.

I shaved it off once for a play in the 1980s.  I was taking part in a production of “Oh What a Lovely War,” and I had to play about six different roles, including Field Marshal Douglas Haig, an army lieutenant and an American war profiteer. The beard was considered to be too ‘defining’, so it had to go.

I then shaved it off once for a job interview.  I had obviously concluded at the time that I didn’t want to run the risk of the interviewer being a ‘pogonophob’, a person with an irrational fear of beards.  Now I can’t even remember which job I was applying for.  All I can recall about the incident are the stunned expressions on the faces of my wife and daughter when I came out of the bathroom with an exposed lower face..

As soon as this play is over, the beard will be back!

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