Growing up, you realise that it’s rare for things to turn out exactly how you want them to, and even rarer for your expectations to be exceeded. Most dreams don’t quite come true. Neither do wishes. Life is a bit too literal for that kind of whimsy. Except when it comes to one thing. One part of my life that has consistently surpassed my wildest dreams for the last five years. One part of my body that has remained a radiant lighthouse for the restless boat of my self-esteem. A stylish companion. A trustworthy friend. Praise be to the most inspiring and trailblazing of all my physical appendages.

Hail to the sideburns!

My sideburn obsession began in high school, when my best friend Billy and I would spend the best part of our social studies lesson creating visual glossaries of different kinds of sideburns. These included ‘Lamb Chops’ (standard), ‘Mutton Chops’ (slightly smaller than lamb chops), ‘Beef Chops,’ (kind of chunky), ‘Sideboards’ (thinner), ‘Grizzly Burns,’ (hairier than usual), and ‘Jagged Burns’ (ones that end in a point). Other favourite past-times were to draw sideburns on ourselves, or even just take two fingers, run them down our cheeks so they made the outline of a sideburn, and say the word ‘burns’ in an exaggerated manner while doing this. We were a two man side-burn appreciation society without facial hair.

Spotting a pair of quality sideburns in real life or on television was a time of celebration. We would giggle in awe and try and identify which category they fell into. Our hero was David Jason, who starred in a show at the time called ‘The Darling Buds of May.’ This was set in ye olde England, and David was fitted with tremendously maxed out lamb chops that could have fed a family of four for a year. Graham Garden from The Goodies and Wolverine were also key poster boys.

As the years and hormones have gone by, I’ve found that while my moustache and beard attempts are comical at best, since the age of twenty I have been able to grow my own healthy set of mutton chops. If I let them go, I can enter serious Grizzly Adams territory, with the sideburn hair growing to at least five centimetres in length. When they get that long my friend Matt says they make him feel ill. Sideburns aren’t for everyone.

Sideburns in aren’t generally in vogue, and are probably considered by many to be out-dated and daggy. If men do have them, they are often carefully styled and cropped neat and close to the face. That isn’t for me. I believe side-burns should be wild and untamed scourers of country jungle madness. They are like a pet for the face. When I’m anxious I often twiddle and stroke them and it makes me feel better. They are like squiggly woollen bookmarks holding my head together. I love my sideburns and I want them to know that I don’t take them for granted.