My Mother … And Me.

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I was waiting for a bus with my mother after we’d been shopping and it was at that time of day when the older generation are out and about. Now. My mother is obviously a pensioner and, as such, has some of the obligatory traits – spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to smash her shopping trolley into my shins – I’m sure you get the picture.

However, she has always had and manages to retain an ability to flirt charmingly with the opposite sex. By her side, I feel somewhat of a galumphing idiot, in my younger days notable only to men for my ability to drink most of them under the table and my astonishing breadth and knowledge of swear words…oh the benefits of a private education…

Needless to say I am not a flirt. I have never mastered the art of blushing delicately and peeping coyly upwards through my eyelashes, fingers fluttering at my throat… Nah. I’m far more likely to sneeze and fall over.

This particular day, as we were walking towards the bus stop, my mother and I both happened to notice a smartly dressed man, dark hair, beard (just my type) talking on his mobile. As we passed him, he lifted his head from the screen, breathed in ostentatiously and said: “Ladies – somebody smells nice!”

We both turned to look – oh yes, he was even nicer close up – and my mother blushed prettily. I highly doubted it was me since I was lightly scented with my usual blend of cat food and bleach, perhaps with overtones of patchouli essential oil from where I had knocked the diffuser over and tried to mop it up with a sock that I was wearing.

Looking up at this man, head fetchingly on one side, my mother said: “Oh it’ll be me! ‘White Diamonds’,” giving him one of her dazzling smiles.

Oh, I’ll remember that!” he replied and walked on, with a smile of his own.

My mother grinned to herself, serene in the knowledge that she still had “it” while I inelegantly hauled her shopping trolley onto the bus, managing to tread on my own foot in the process. The man (of course) got on the same bus as us and winked at Mum as he sauntered down the bus to a seat, while I was attempting to stuff a frozen pizza in a shopping bag and swearing as the cat treats emptied themselves with malice aforethought into my handbag…

The man settled himself into a seat just in my eyeline and the bus set off – the journey itself is worthy of a separate post – and when we reached her stop, Mum got off in a ladylike fashion as the man waved at her…

Oh well. Clutching my cat food, pizzas and a packet of lily of the valley bulbs that had burst and was shedding its powdery compost gently over me, I lurched out of my seat and stumbled off the bus, only to sneeze and fall over…

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To Beard… Or Not To Beard?

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I’m quite into beards at the moment. Not personally, as being female, I would have a bit of difficulty growing one, although I do sometimes grow the occasional one tough facial hair… a remnant from a previous life as a cat, I like to think…

I remember when I was a little girl hearing my father refer scornfully to “beardy weirdies”, and I was at once fascinated. Why were these men weird for having hair on their faces? How did it get there? Were they weird to start off with, or did growing a beard make them weird? Did it grow so far and then just fall out? Did they brush them? Remember, this was in the ‘70’s, and although the straggly hippy beard was still to be seen, the majority of men my father knew were clean shaven, apart from a few of the R.A.F. officers with whom he socialised, who sported immaculately groomed moustaches….

Obviously, as I grew older, I realised that my father meant it as a derogatory remark more to do with politics than actual appearance, but my fascination for facial hair was already – ahem – fertilised… Presently, beards are actually quite fashionable, and I am entranced by the amount of time and product men can use in maintaining a well-furnished face. My sons are both very fair and unable to produce a satisfying amount to require anything other than the occasional shave…

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I know that if I were a man, I would grow a full beard at least once in my life, just to see what it felt like and because, well, because I could! Some men’s faces definitely suit beards, whether to add character or hide a weak jawline… some men suit the naked look… some men are lucky enough to be good looking with or without facial adornment… yes, I’m talking about you Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan…

I had a somewhat morbid fascination with my History teacher’s beard. It was dark, and curly, but one year, a grey spot appeared right in the middle of his chin, with a ginger ring around it. Every year, the grey spot grew larger, as did the corresponding ginger ring… I left before his face was entirely consumed by grey, but even now, I wonder… WAS HIS SKIN GREY AND GINGER UNDERNEATH THE HAIR – LIKE AN APPALOOSA PONY’S???

I am quite pleased by the current hipster fashion for beards, long, silky pelts that are sometimes threaded with beads, or plaited… or both… I applaud your ability to grow beards, gentlemen, and am secretly quite envious…enjoy your symbols of virility and masculine power, but please, answer me this – Do you keep things in them?? I would…!