Hair today – gone tomorrow, Jeremy

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It wasn’t good enough for Jeremy Paxman – but it’s good enough for me.

I confess my ignorance and admit I did not know the meaning of the word pogonophobic. Apparently it means a fear of beards and I’ll take Paxman’s word for it. Because he knows about words.

If you haven’t followed me so far, I’ll explain. My face is covered in hair. It’s called a beard and it keeps me warm in the winter when it becomes extremely bushy and sometimes a bit untidy. But I like it.

Jeremy, if I may call him by his given name without incurring his wrath, took a liking to having a beard while on holiday in August. Like mine, it was grey. It wasn’t as bushy or as sprawling as mine – and because of the 63-year-old’s TV presence, it was exposed to wider audience.

My facial hair doesn’t raise much controversy – but Jeremy’s did. It became headline news. A lot of folk didn’t like it.

The veteran broadcaster bounced back and branded the BBC – yes, here’s that word again – pogonophobic. A fear of beards. And I liked his reasoning.

He declared in his usual forthright manner: “I have grown a beard for the last few summers, and suddenly wondered whether I really needed to shave it off to present Newsnight. Unless you’re lucky enough to be Uncle Albert on Only Fools and Horses, Dennis Roussos or Abu Hamza, the BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.

“I may keep it or I may shave it off, but I think I’ll make my own decision.”

Well said, Jeremy. Beards are us, I say. Or they were. I’ve still got mine, but now you are clean shaven. You have become – dare I say it – a member of the pogonophobic regime.

Shave on you. And shave on you for your pathetic excuse for this festive trimming. A man of words such as your good self could surely have produced a better soundbite than: “If a chap can’t shave on holiday, what can he do? Beards are so 2013.”

I’ll never measure Paxman [he’s no longer a Jeremy to me now] in the same light again.

I ask you the question. What man of even meagre intelligence grows a beard at the height of blistering summer and then puts it under the razor in dismal, dank December? Not I, Mr Paxman, not I.

We both grew our beards working with the same organisation – the BBC. It was 1983 and I had some late finishes and early starts. Shaving gave way to an extra 10 minutes of kip.

In the intervening years I have had it off thrice. But I returned to being a non-pogonophobic.

I have resisted and consistently refused requests to shave for charity. I have stumped up the cash, but kept the razor at bay.

I like my beard for various reasons. I save money by not buying razor blades and reduced toilet-roll usage by not having to patch the bleeding. It keeps me warm without recourse to a balaclava.

When I play Santa Claus I don’t have to pull on a saliva-soaked chuck of cotton wool. And if I’m hungry in the middle of the night, there’s usually a morsel of mince lurking somewhere.