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  • Philip Bryer

A Faceful of Fungus

“Here he comes, old fungus face.”

In such a manner my dad, and many others, would refer to anyone with a beard, and up until about 1968 (when Paul McCartney grew one) that wasn’t very many people. Ex-navy men, folk singers, East German lady shot-putters, and be-blazered middle-aged bachelors rebelling against their parents, that was about it.


I like to think that ‘old fungus face’ might be resurrected, weaponised, and trained upon a new generation but it remains an idle thought, for I fear that, hirsute-wise, the scruff-bags are in the ascendant and shares in Gillette are about as attractive as those in Blockbuster Video.

Each day seems to bring a new, unwelcome surprise. Beards with little knots in them, or bits of ribbon. Watch out for teaspoons and fag-ends. I still can’t quite believe that beard oil is ‘a thing’, it must surely have been a Chris Morris invention? I have just, with no little trepidation, typed ‘beard trimmers’ into Google and, while there’s nothing unsettlingly off-colour, there seem to be thousands of men’s grooming items, beard maintenance kits, and beard rollers. Beard rollers. I’ve seen people, post-dining, picking stray bits of food out of their fungus and sopping up maybe a gallon of pasta sauce from the revolting construct, and quite honestly I don’t think a roller’s going to help.

Despite the pressure to take part in (deep breath) Movember for one of those Fascist Fundraisers, I’ve never grown a ‘tache. However, during a difficult period at work I decided to make some small protest by not shaving for a while. (This was in the days when the German U-boat captain look was still a rarity.)

After 2 weeks of this, I ran into a pal on the commute. He offered up a cheery greeting, then peered closely at me:

“Hmm,” said Wes, “you’ve got a little bit of a beard going on there, haven’t you?”

Couched in the form of a question. After 2 weeks. A ‘little bit of a beard’.

I shaved it off that night. Didn’t take long.

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