Every writer should grow a beard (females excluded, I suppose). That is what I conclude from a seven-month journey into the world of facial hair.
I stopped shaving at a music festival last August. My Dad grew a beard when he was my age, as did my father-in-law. I'd always felt I'd try it one day – a field of dancing campers seemed the ideal place to begin.
Yesterday, I decided to bring the experiment to a close. I fished out my razor this morning, lathered up, and off went the stubble.
Writers are always told to "make the strange familiar and the familiar strange". A beard does the job remarkably well. Your most distinctive feature – your face – becomes unrecognisable.
The process occurs over a few weeks when growing the beard. But when you shave it off the change takes place in seconds. It's quite a shock. I feel pink and fleshy. My chin looks enormous. I don't recognise myself.
I messaged a photo to my wife. "You look very strange!" she replied.
I feel very strange.
Imagine being able to achieve that with words.