Let us get one thing straight from the beginning. Having a beard is fine, but Beardiness, Bearding, and Beardisms are not cool. Standing in a corner of the pub comparing bobble hats when you should be out taking drugs and dancing is not cool. Do all the real ale tasting you like when you're 50, and if you do happen to be closer to 50 than 20 then you can ignore these ramblings. They were never intended for you. Crack on.
Youth culture: the inherent desire to reject the things your Dad does and create a unique identity for your generation. If that fire goes out we're all fucked. Living in a bland T4 remake of Kes forever. Thatcher's dead, football's rubbish, pubs are closing and someone's stepped on the Subbuteo keeper, time is ripe for a-changing, but we're voluntarily offering up our youth to the Gods of some contrived masculinity. Gods we never asked for. Serious about being blokes.
No laughing, no girls.
Do I want to open up a fashion mag and see a dour man in a bowler hat on a hiking escapade? Men barely out of their teens with the weight of the world on their moustache. The face in the mirror isn't looking back at me - he's got arctic ice in his beard. How to be a man: survive in the jungle with only a toothpick and a gerbil.
Hop on the back of my Penny Farthing for the time of your life.
Enough is enough. Reject this Edwardian nonsense. The peacocks need feeding. The mark of a man is not to be found in the thickness of his facial hair or the sternness of his gaze but in his vivacity, his smile, his charisma. Don't be told you want to be a stiff-backed explorer or harsh scandinavian fisherman. Hemingway was a cock.
Come out into the light and show your face. Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself. Life ain't all bad. Spend all the money you like on a 100-year old Japanese sub commander's codpiece to wear on your head, if you're not having fun and making people laugh you're doing life wrong.
"Who's that in the photo Dad?" "That's me son. Thirty years ago. Same pub. Same pint of bitter. Same beard."
We need better role models. Men who liked to look smart but ultimately knew we're only on this planet once, and to take life, yourself, your clothes or your facial hair too seriously is a crime against your own humanity. Puff your feathers, shine your light on the world, make it count. The bearded backlash starts here.