It was the sight of blood in the shaving mirror yesterday morning which suggested that I'd finally solved my Christmas present problem. Surely my upper lip shouldn't be bleeding, not while I was using an electric razor. But closer inspection revealed that there was a tiny raised tear in the metal foil cover, just about half a centimetre long, creating an unintentional extra blade. With each sweep of the shaver head I was busy scraping away the top layer of skin from various parts of my face, leaving behind red grazed blotches and minor lacerations. Probably best to stop and buy a new razor, then.
I'm blessed in that I don't really need to shave every day. What facial fuzz I do have is dark and bristly, but it grows thinly in sparse patches. My five o'clock shadow generally takes until 5pm the following evening to appear. I couldn't possibly grow a goatee because the hairs on my upper lip don't join up with the hairs on my lower chin. To grow a fullbeard would be completely impossible because, even at the age of forty, the crucial coverage zones on my lower face have yet to spawn any productive hair follicles. And sideburns are out, unless I were to cut strips from a doormat and superglue them to my face. To be honest, even some grandmothers have more facial hair than I do (although I do probably still have a bit more than Geoff).
Nevertheless, as I mopped up tiny globules of blood from my cheek using a folded sheet of toilet paper, my thoughts turned to replacing my defunct razor. I've never been a great fan of wet shaving, not just because of the regular razorblade outlay but also because of the increased occurrence of bogroll dabbing. Neither have I ever felt the urge to daub stinging aftershave all over my freshly mown chin and then to spend the rest of the day smelling like the front of a department store. No, a good old plain and simple electric razor is all I need.
The electric razor is a staple of the festive male grooming gift list. There's always a better, sharper, smoother model on the market, and if three blades were de rigeur last Christmas it's almost certain that nothing less than four will do this year. No matter whether or not the man in your life needs a new Remington, Braun or Philishave - just buy him one anyway and chuck his old shaver onto the nearest landfill site. But I couldn't wait for Christmas to get hold of my new razor. Stubble grows at one-hundredth of an inch every day, which would have meant that by December 25th I'd be plagued by sparse straggly bristles a quarter of an inch long sticking out of bits of my chin. No, an urgent trip to Argos was called for, yesterday evening after work.
It's not always easy to tell from the tiny photograph in the Argos catalogue exactly what the products in their store really look like. And so when my new electric shaver finally trundled down the conveyor belt and into view, I noticed that I appeared to have just bought a product aimed at somebody half my age. The packaging looked more like that to be found around an over-colourful Easter egg, and the box was littered with copious references to music festivals and extreme sports. Back home, once I'd finally broken through the outer plastic wrapper, the electrical device inside appeared to have been lifted from the set of a 90s sci-fi movie. Most worrying of all was the full colour 'shave, style and trim' leaflet advising me of the correct way to carve a 'chin curtain', 'soulpatch', 'Lincolnic' and several other stubbly styles.
I think I've inadvertently picked up the equivalent of a 'My First Electric Razor' gift pack aimed fair and square at the emergent adolescent. You'll remember those kids in your class who sported full chest hair and a moustache at the age of 13, while the rest of us were still waiting for something more than just acne to sprout from our smooth pores? My new shiny shaver is targetted at these maturing teenagers, keen to shape their budding bumfluff into ever more ridiculous forms of facial topiary. Some of us just never caught up. Ah well, I'm sure I'll be mature enough one day to be able to take advantage of my razor's full functionality. Let me go and see if it's finished charging, and then maybe I can trim myself a 'chinstrap' before work.