BEARDS ARE BIG at the moment
in the UK. I don’t mean big and bushy
(although certainly some of them are). I
mean big news.
When I ;rst started work in London,
they were banned in our o;ce. Not
o;cially, of course—that would have
been illegal. But it was widely suspected
that the editor detested facial hair. So,
as a result, there was just one beardie in
the building: the “father” of our NUJ
(National Union of Journalists) chapel,
who, thanks to his position, felt fairly safe
Now, though, they are everywhere. I
blame Jeremy Corbyn. ;e Labour leader
sports a classic le;-wing beard (like my
old NUJ colleague, and Fidel Castro).
Ottiwell Simmons had a neater variation of ;e Comrade, as I like to call it,
although unlike Mr. Corbyn’s, I never
worried that Ottie’s might be concealing
the remains of lunch. Last week’s lunch.
At the other end of the spectrum—and coincidentally also hitting
the headlines—are hipsters: metrosexuals who favour the kind of mani-
cured facial hair last seen when the Romanovs ruled Russia.
;e hipster’s natural habitat is London’s East End, and their in;ux
has caused some problems with the original working class population,
unhappy about what they see as “gentri;cation” of the area.
;is autumn, they attacked a hipster-run breakfast bar in Brick
Lane, enraged by the fact it was o;ering imported cereal for £ 5 a bowl.
Protesters smeared economy corn;akes over the windows of ;e Cereal
Killer Cafe (that’ll teach ’em) as terri;ed customers cowered inside with
their Lucky Charms.
I saw a picture of the cafe’s owner with the caption “Alan Keery,
complete with hipster beard,” as though, somehow, his facial hair had
been the ;nal straw. Well that’s it: he sells overpriced cereal—and he has
a beard like Tsar Nicholas II. Let’s get him.
Flyers found at the scene had anti-hipster messages, like “We don’t
want your pop-up gin bars and brioche buns—we want community!”
What?! I don’t have a hipster beard—I hope!—(my vision is failing
so it’s possible I do and people have simply been too polite to mention
it), but my dream is to have a gin bar—even better, a gin bar that sells
brioche—pop up next door.
Anyway, I digress. Beards! Unlike moustaches—which my Aunt
Carol always insisted were grown by those with something to hide (I
So in honour of this new wave of
hairy dudes, I’ve come up with a list of
a few of my favourite beards...and some
I’m not so keen on.
David Wingate. Try to picture our
number-one naturalist clean shaven.
Can’t do it, can you? Far too busy
thrashing through the undergrowth
saving species to worry about shaving.
He could fashion a straight razor out of a bit of dead cedar and some
barnacles and tidy that baby up if he wanted to. But he doesn’t.
Santa Claus. A trustworthy beard that compels you to spill your
secrets into its snowy depths. (How do you think he knows if you’ve
been good or bad, people?)
Yosemite Sam. More of an overgrown ’tache, really, that knots under
the tiny varmint’s chin like one of my mother’s rain hats. Still makes my
list, though, because it’s hilariously ginger, and so very angry.
;e Old Spice Man. ;e man your man could look like if another,
very skilful man (let’s call him a barber) trimmed his beard every day
and his voice dropped three octaves, and, oh well.
ZZ Top. Billy Gibbons or Dusty Hill—not Frank Beard the drummer who, despite his name, does not have one. (Does anyone but me
;nd this funny? No? Oh come on!). Gibbons and Hill, on the other
hand, are 99 per cent hair. What Cousin Itt from the Addams Family
would look like if he suddenly remembered he had legs and stood up.
Any beard worn sans mustache. People will assume you are an Anabaptist and, with apologies to my Mennonite and Amish readers, that’s
a tough look to carry o;. If they are kind, they will assume your electric
razor broke halfway through your shave and you are making the best of
a bad situation.
Big beards worn by men with bald heads. Just ludicrous. Take a
picture, turn it upside down—and see what I mean?
That’s Life! A Letter from London | WRITTEN BY WINIFRED BLACKMORE