Before Christmas I was letting all my facial hair grow wild in the hope that it would keep me warmer. Particularly the gotee area because when sleeping out in my bivvy bag in colder weather this is the only part of me left exposed, so as not to expire moisture into my sleeping bag. I think the hair on my head must be better than any synthetic insulator and relatively quick-drying. But having lots of hair has it’s disadvantages so despite it being mid-Winter, last night I shaved it off again.
I decided that the extra warmth of hair could be sacrificed to make washing and drying faster. It’s important for me to have very quick showers as I often have very limited access, and sometimes they’re cold. This also saves a significant amount of water and energy. Must explain all the shaved heads in the army.
I bought a nice balaclava made by Berghaus from GoOutdoors that not only keeps my head warm but my ears and face also. It can be pulled down around my neck as an effective neck-warmer. When used over my head it will also keep my neck warm so long as I have a tight collar around my jacket.
My brothers will testify that I’ve never really cared much about what people think of my appearance. They nick-named me ‘Cave Man’ long before I ever lived outdoors, so the number of their jokes has been increasing exponentially of late. But it’s good fun.
I used to get really embarrassed and blush when I was a little kid, until one day at the age of 9 I decided that feeling embarrassed in public was embarrassing and I should stop. I was surprised how quickly I toughened up. This is important when living as a nomad among the towns and cities because you often have to change clothes and brush your teeth in public or find dry wood and boil water on a park bench. Feeling self-concious is just not convenient. I do catch myself doing things in public too quickly and nervously sometimes, and have to take deep breath, and remind myself of all the benefits of this new life and that I’ll probably never see the strangers around me ever again.
I therefore have absolutely no problem with doing everything differently from everyone else and can understand perfectly well why many old men never cut their hair or beards. When I grow my beard I like it and my girls don’t really mind. However now I’ve shaved it all again, apart from simply making hygiene more practical in cold weather, I often wonder if it wouldn’t be better to look ‘normal’.
This has practical advantages for example if I’m clean and tidy looking it’s easier to get a free shower, charge my phone and generally get help from strangers. Perhaps it’s slightly discriminatory, but I do get served better everywhere. Many remark that I don’t look homeless at all. But there are possibly more important reasons to appear ‘normal’…
I mean, I’m questioning so many things in life and already have to stand out in many ways, perhaps there’s no point in pushing it unnecessarily. If I do most things just like the majority of my countrymen and appear completely sane, perhaps others will be more likely to notice the few things I do do very differently and question the way they do these things. Important things like not running around chasing the consumer culture, having more time for people, and looking after the environment.
Despite all this it’s good to be a hairy man, it makes the base layers on the rest of my body that little bit more insulating!