There’s a certain inevitability about the fact that during a night shift you’re going to be tired. Your previous life arrangements determine the level of fatigue you’ll endure; caffeine availability, client behaviour and your particular proclivities for dull, late night TV also play a significant part in stupidly early brain stimulation.

For those wondering, I work in a hospital, and while I’ve never fallen asleep on duty – and hopefully never will – one thing I do find is that the mind tends to wander all over the place when not actively having to do my night-to-night tasks. All extremes of conscious thought enter and leave throughout the abundance of freely available time, but one topic returns again and again.

When, oh when, will I be able to grow something that I can genuinely call a beard?

This is not a new concept to me.

Ever since the beginning of secondary school, aged 11 or so, it’s been shockingly apparent that my facial hair just doesn’t want to conform to social mores; and while many a would-be man has timidly brought forth an attempt at a hairy upper lip, mine remained, and sadly still remains, bereft of any inclination to burst with newly sprung sprigs of bristly brilliance.

I remember when a new school colleague of mine (we’ll call him ginger-bearded-wannabe-bully-1) arrived on the scene in a History lesson. He not only managed menacingly to state “If you say another word, I’m gonna throw you out that window”, after I’d opened with something naive like “Hi, I’m Phil“, but also had the added bonus of a more than solid amount of stubble to confirm that he was, in fact, an awful lot more alpha than I could pretend to be.

Suffice to say, we took a while to warm to each other.

A baby ginger-bearded-wannabe-bully-1
A baby ginger-bearded-wannabe-bully-1

Considering at that time a razor blade was yet to touch my visage, I was a little put out that our opening exchange was quite so unfavourable; the fact that I was in close proximity to someone who probably hit puberty shortly after leaving the womb did nothing to ease the ever-so-slightly negative feelings towards my newly-found desk-mate.

These are the kinds of memories that early-morning mind-wandering produce; once en route to bored retrospection, there’s no telling where you’ll end up.

As I’ve grown older, and more and more of my friends (luckily not all of them) have developed nicely groomed chin insulation, sparse follicular forays by my own would-be facial-covering have been initiated but, as yet, nothing that I can call anything other than a patchy pile of post-pubescent balderdash. The family genes have not been kind in this department.

Wouldn’t it be just hilarious if at this point, our charitable Tuk-Tuk trip across India was sponsored by Captain Fawcett’s Expedition Strength Moustache Wax, because I could really use some of that . . . Oh wait, that just happened.

I can play the waiting game. One day soon (ish) my facial hair will flourish and whoever’s privy to my life at the time can swiftly tell me that beards went out of fashion years ago and to find the nearest shaver.

Still, with 11 days until I cross the globe there’s always the chance of a surprise follic emergence. Maybe the Indian sun will induce some hair-raising favour.

Beard or no beard, I’m excited.

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