Monday, May 17, 2010

The Family Moustache

Addendum: I've since had it confirmed by my mother that the gentleman in the picture below is my maternal great-grandfather not paternal and has therefore been identified as Henry Hyde and not, as previously stated, Arthur Benjamin Olorenshaw.

There are some synchronicities that stretch down through the ages. Eye shape, cheek bones, crooked toes. Physical and biological DNA fingerprints that are passed on at the cellular level. Familial biometrics. A lottery that we have no choice about but find ourselves born with. Ooh you have your mother’s eyes, etc.

But then there are others. The physical, the biological traits that we do choose.

Confused? Think of the moustache.

Yes. Think of it. Stroke it. Caress it in your mind.

It grows quite naturally but with the technology of the modern world keeping it is a personal choice. To beard or not to beard. Hirsute you, sir.

I first allowed my face to be graced with facial hair in my early twenties. I sported a full on beard and tache. Not quite the Brian Blessed aurora bristlyaris but coupled with my waist length hair it gave me a full on Bejasus look that the locals kids would daily feel compelled to comment upon. Little tykes. Ah bless.

And then, sometimes in my thirties, my marvellous continent of beard began to be invaded with white hairs. Lots of them. I’ve never been one for the badger look (“as rough as a badger’s arse” is my favourite expression – wouldn’t be good to have a facsimile of one on my face) so I elected with the help of my good lady girlfriend (now my good lady wife) to trim the beard into something a little more sporty. To drop the people carrier in favour of an MG.

The result was an entirely separate moustache and goatee (although I can grow them “joined up” I choose not to). I’ve had it for years now and it feels very much “me”.

So it was rather comforting whilst digitally scanning some of my grandparent’s old photographs into the computer to come across this picture of my great-granddad, Henry Hyde:

Henry HydeCheck the tache. That’s mine, that is. To a T. I know other people had moustaches in those days but not everyone did. Old Henry H made an aesthetic choice regarding his whiskers that I have matched over a hundred years later. It’s a tenuous link I know but it is beefed up by the fact that the structure of his face quite closely mirrors my own. Both Karen and I can see a likeness to me within the sepia definitions of a face that I never ever saw firsthand.

I feel a sense of connection. A bond. A correlation in what constitutes good face furniture. Separated by a hundred years of family and global history our moustaches bristle proudly from the same town in the same country... in the same shape.

The family moustache is alive and well.

Rest assured, when the time comes I shall ensure that it is passed onto my sons and carried forward, cleaned and possibly waxed, into all perpetuity.

Make the most of those naked top lips, boys, ‘cos they won’t be that way forever.


24 comments:

-eve- said...

LOL :-) interesting :-) but the moustache looks good on him, so perhaps apart from genetic choices, he was influenced, as you likely were, by facial contours (which resulted in you making the same choice as he; whether due to an inherent genetic tendency or aesthetic reasons ;-))

Steve said...

Eve: possibly very true... but it would also point to a similar understanding and appreciation of those aesthetics and a similar approach to personal grooming...! ;-)

Selina Kingston said...

See now, I like a moustache and I'm quite partial to men with beards too. Very tickly....if you get what I'm saying !!!
(By the way, over at mine .... you were completely WRONG!!) xx

The Dotterel said...

My approach to facial hair has, I'm afraid, been driven first by my pathological hatred of shaving, second by my inherent laziness. Anything that gives me an extra minute or two in bed in a morning used to be the theory.

Mind you, I did once fancy one of those HUGE Edward Elgar Walrus 'taches once. But as soon as me own version gets longer than couple of millimeters out comes the trimmer I'm afraid.

Who'd have thought it?

Steve said...

Selina: damn, damn, damn. I'm plainly not the political animal I thought I was. Oh well... at least I can grow a decent beard.

TheDotterel: I know what you mean. Not shaving at all in the days when I had a full beard was marvellous. Now I keep beard maintenance to a minimum. When I can keep an entire bowl of soup in my tache I know the time has come to trim it.

Order of the Kûrvi-tasch said...

If Gillette is the best a man can get - I'm outta here.

Not Fawlty said...

Cæsar ain't won yet - bloomin' heathen with a fancy flushing bog - and anyway - the ladies love a tickler BOOM BOOM!

Steve said...

Order of the Kûrvi-tasch: in my school, Jeanette was the best a man could get...

Not Fawlty: you're not wrong there... and a handlebar has turned the corner of many a rocky relationship...

Joe Bloggs said...

Your great-granpa's looking good.
My granma used to say; kissing a man without a tash is like an egg without salt.

Bowl of soup - you know it's time for a trim ... ROFLOL!

Fran said...

It must be quite handy to have a facial feature that you can either grow, or not grow. I can't think of anything about women's faces that can be varied in this way. Sometimes I have a very big spot on my chin, and sometimes not, but this isn't a choice thing.

Steve said...

Joe: egg without salt? It's like bread without butter! Beef without mustard! Soap without rope!

Fran: I have refrained from pointing out that women can grow moustaches and beards too for reasons of marital security / continuity.

Löst Jimmy said...

A fine tache my lad, unfortunately in my case the trait of the family baldness

Alienne said...

The genetic thing is quite worrying - my father looked just like his father and the same resemblance goes back through a number of generations, whether or not they had mutton chop whiskers. I realised belatedly that I too look like them - we all have the same eye line and square jaw! So far, no sign of the whiskers thank goodness.

Gina said...

Well, as I think you know, I cannot tolerate facial hair at all. I don't mean I wouldn't talk to you, or get up and walk away if you sat next to me on the bus, but well, I couldn't ever kiss anyone with facial hair. I just couldn't - it's not that I don't think men look handsome with taches, it's just an instinctive reaction. But that's fine cos women don't usually have them - well, not the ones I fancy anyway!

You do look a lot like your greatgrandfather. In fact, I am wondering if this is all a con and you have just posed in period costume and sepia-ed the photo!!!

Steve said...

Alienne: what can I say? Give it a go and release the inner tache. You'll turn heads in the street, I guarantee it.

Löst Jimmy: there is the ol' male pattern in my family too but so far, by and large, I have escaped it's denuding curse. However, the tache is good back-up just in case - I'm growing "a bit of spare".

Gina: thus ends a promising friendship. *sniff* Only joking! ;-) Funny you should suggest a sepia mock-up as I did consider donning my flatcap (yes, I really have one) and posing for a contrast and compare blog post!

Being Me said...

You carried people in your beard during your 20's? Oh... sorry, wait, it was just a figure of speech.

I call for a contrast pic! In sepia tones! Let's start a movement, people.!

The Sagittarian said...

Oh love beards, me! Well, I have to see cos the Stud has a full beard. I think they look very distinguished and you look that AND smart too!

Steve said...

Being Me: bugger! Now what I have done. I may be about to create a monster. Watch his space!

Amanda: you are a woman of discernment and high taste - good on yer, gal.

Nota Bene said...

...and the hat? do you have the cap, I think it would look splendid!

Steve said...

Nota Bene: I do indeed. Please refer to tomorrow's post...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

A-ha, your early years of singledom makes sense now.

You were testing women to see how many would see beyond the facial topiary.

Not this shallow one I'm afraid. Any man with a beard reminds me too much of my dad. Sorry Steve.

I'm sure the rest of you is uber-hot.

missbehaving said...

I love a beard too, not my own of course, I have to keep that in check, but on a chap it's delish.
My man had a full beard and hair down to his waist when we met but the mad git lost it in a drunken game of rock, scissors, paper.
Beards are not allowed at work either, so that's gone too.

A Write Blog said...

Early on I could grow a full, dark beard.

But moustache? No. A sort of mousey thing that almost apologised for being there.

I gave up and apart from my '70's long sideburns have never sported facial hair.

It would be white now.

Steve said...

Laura: it is indeed uber-hot but that may have a lot to do with my overall hirsuteness. Sorry - is that too much information?

MissBehaving: I do so like a woman with taste and a flare for spotting what is right and manly! Welcome to the fan club!

AWB: I must admit I have given up pulling the white hairs out of my beard now. They're duplicating and spreading at an alarming rate. In fact it is turning my hair white just thinking about it.