Welcome to the first of many guest blogs. Jamie Fry is a staple of the beard club circuit and general lovely Chap.
"There is one thing for sure and that is you can't hide when you have a beard no matter how big or small. Some days I can't go anywhere without attracting attention of some sort. Without sounding modest I have a fairly large beard, not the largest by any chalk but certainly not short. My wife has got used to it now but sometimes it can be cringe-worthy, it embarrasses the kids no end. Don't get me wrong, this is not a daily occurrence and not always positive, although it has got better among peers in the workplace as they have got used to me. When it is good, it is a good feeling and when bad, it can take the skip out of your step.
I have several styles that can attract different reactions depending on the audience. When I'm at work I like to dress formally, not always a suit but at least a jacket and trousers, mixed with a hat when I'm out and about. In contrast, evenings and weekends it will be jeans, t-shirt or shirt with a baseball cap. Amazingly, I have even spoken to someone in the workplace by day and then that same night in my alternative attire only to get walked straight past before recognising my voice when I address them. If I see a face, it is never forgotten, regardless of what they wear so I find it most unusual that having a beard is not a feature people will remember, whatever clothes I am stood up in. Maybe it has to do with unconscious bias where the person associates the dapper look with professional and approachable as opposed to scruffy and less than desirable. Imagine the reaction I get on dress down day! Anyone else experience the same?Most days I can go places without even a second glance from someone (that I can tell), sometimes the odd look but the full on days can be surreal. I have been out with my wife, with or without kids and I can get comments throughout the day, thankfully, rarely do I get a tug or a stroke. Maybe it has to do with the clothing as well? It ranges from a nod received by a fellow beardsman to a fresh faced hopeful. In between, it is a kid, whilst pointing, tugging at their parents trouser leg who is dying of embarrassment whispering frantically to them to shut up and move on, the drunk or bunch of lads that give you a shout out, drawing even more attention to you, the odd (I should be so lucky) woman that gives a little smile of approval, occasionally, the hater who has to remind you that a beard is dirty and thinks the only thing they are good for is a birds nest or for storing food in, the best for last is the compliment, that person who congratulates you for the perseverance and achievement, one they often aspire to.
Only the other day I was walking up the street and in the space of ten minutes I had received two beeps from passing cars followed by a van full of lads stopped at traffic lights waving their thumbs at me whilst stroking imaginary beards. On the way back I spotted a very poignant picture in a frame with words that read "Be a Flamingo amongst a flock of pigeons", that was me that day. This is what gives me the self-confidence to walk up the street with my head held high - beard on!"