Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Evils That Come of Crusty White Beards

It came as a surprise to neither Judy nor I that Radovan Karadzic has been hiding himself away all these years behind a large crusty white beard. While the talk in the serious press has been of underground rooms and secret hovels in villages sympathetic to Karadzic’s cause, I, on the other hand, have been busy sending countless letters from Cactus TV to those in the intelligence community, warning them that white beards posed a threat to national security. Now here I am, years on and justified in my fears. Yet it still saddens me that MI6 could have wrapped up this whole matter a long time ago with just a bowl of soapy water and a razor.

My suspicions were first raised by Fidel Castro, that great epitome of everything that’s un-Madeley about the world. With the example of this Bearded Satan in Cuba, was it any surprise that Saddam Hussein chose to hole himself away behind a couple of inches of thick whisker fashioned into a living chin-mullet of evil? As Archibald Flunk, my old teacher in the art of disguise once told me: ‘only vagabonds and thieves hide themselves away behind a beard’. He told the same to Cher but she made a song out of it and has never enjoyed an inconspicuous moment since.

Now that people are coming around to my way of thinking, we need to ask serious questions of those people with the means to make things happen in the world of facial topiary. Who else might be hiding behind the crusty white beards we don’t know about? What might we find behind the beards that we have already identified as potential threats? My own theory is that we need to look again at Uncle Albert from ‘Only Fools and Horses’, Harbottle from the Will Hay films, Santa Claus, Jimmy Hill and Noel Edmonds. If I had to put my money on their being a war criminal hiding behind a beard, it’s to these beards that I’d go with a large pitch fork and a willingness to prod. And if we don’t find anything, we should then move on search Brian Blessed, Kenny Rogers, and Ginger Spice, because, I don’t know about you, but I still get that tingle of excitement at the very thought of there being an arch-criminal behind one of their beards.

I know that many of you will be wondering if I’m overstating my case but I’d go so far as to say that growing a beard is morally wrong. In the immortal words of Gillette, subsequently ruined by marketing people, ‘a beard is the first admission of guilt a man can make’. I, myself, have never once considered growing a beard. But, then, I have nothing to hide, being a good-living man who has never harmed a soul in his life, so long as you don’t count Shakin’ Stevens, and, let’s face it, who does?

Beards are as alien to our being as an extra set of earlobes. They are abnormal extravagances that only guilty men grow. I warn you now: ulterior motives were behind every man grooming a small shrubbery between his upper lip and chin. Grizzly Adams had a large beard because he lived out there in the woods with his bear. But did nobody ever wonder why he was hiding? And why he wanted to live with a nine hundred pounds of slobbering snot and teeth? And what about Rasputin or Blackbeard? The only two* exceptions to the general rule that all men with beards are evil are Jesus and Kris Kristofferson, who both, in their ways, wrote songs about beating the devil. They clearly weren’t evil. They were just in hiding from Satan, who, when you think about it, also has a beard. And as Professor Flunk always said, ‘the art of disguise is to blend in.’ Which is another reason why beards are unnatural, immoral, and unholy.

Given that 98% of the world’s population is cleanly shaved (and, to some of us, that means both top and tails) how is growing a beard meant to hide a man’s identity? It’s only going to encourage people to stare, pass comment, or give it a tug. The bigger the beard, the more explicitly do you announce that you have something to hide. A beard should always rouse the curiosity of good, common, descent folk who would do well to drag it to a stake where it would be tested with a trial by fire.

And speaking of the devil, as we were, that style of chin whisker is the worst beard of all. The devil groomed his beard, no doubt with one of those vile razors with an attachment on the handle. Ask yourself: how many blades does a pitchfork have? Now compare that with the Wilkinson Quattro Titanium. You see, there’s the devil’s work in the well groomed beard. TV advertisements for beard trimmers have kept me awake on many a night (although, lately, it has been the Ladyboys of Bangkok on the Manchester leg of their tour). There is a repellent vanity in all men that cut their beards to neat edges. While they appear to have something to hide, they are teasing us you by revealing just enough of their face to keep us guessing. This is like lumping pre-mediated evil on top of some of some unmotivated crime.

The beard says they’re guilty. Shaving it admits that they simply don’t care. The utter fiends!

* There is, of course, a third exception and that's Bill Oddie. But Bill is technically in hiding. His beard hides him from the birds, so it's really a natural form of camouflage and has no greater significance.

16 comments:

katyboo1 said...

That leads to unpleasant thoughts about ZZ Top. Easily done actually, even without the beards. So, is Victor Kayam a saviour of the western world with his: 'Shaves as close as a blade or your money back' guarantee?

Dick Madeley said...

That's exactly right, Kayboo1. You know exactly what I'm talking about. The world has gone to hell since Victor Kiam shaved his last chin.

elberry said...

we need to keep an eye on the situation. i'll be scrutinising the chins of my co-workers, let me tell you...even though they are all women.

Richard Havers said...

I'm reminded of a younger pop personage of my acquaintance who realized that wearing a baseball hat and sun glasses was not necessarily the way to go unrecognized when he stood next to Eric Clapton in baggage reclaim at Heathrow after a flight to Geneva. Eric, or rather Derek to his many friends, was dressed normally without a hat or sun glasses and not one person either bothered him, or appeared to recognize him.

Richard Havers said...

BTW, kit's a well known fact that the two bearded ones in ZZ Top are respectively the third (the bass player) and the second (the guitarist) to have donned the mantle. The two original members are now working on a Dude ranch about 35 miles north of San Antonio in Texas. At least one of the since departed replacement is working at a Taco Bell on I-45 on the outskirts of Houston. Of course none of them have beards any longer - or shorter for that matter.

Dick Madeley said...

Elberry, it did strike me this evening, watching the footage of Karadzic, that he now resembles a white wizard. This troubled me. I don't know how Gandalf would fit into my scheme of beards.

Richard, clearly the number of beard wearers not to fit in my scheme are increasing by the hour. I have always admired the ZZ Top beards but I could never understand why it was only two of them that wore them. Can you assure me that Dusty is still part of the band? It's a while since I bought my Recycler LP.

NigelBeale said...

Dick,

there's a fair amount of protestething over much I fear going on here...are we a little patchy in the testosterone department per chance?

katyboo1 said...

Whilst at uni I employed a beard rating system for a while when goatees were very much in vogue. It helped a lot to manage the spectacular excesses of bearded males around into manageable groups. I don't think all beards are evil, but some beards are definitely on the dark side. I expect if you ripped off Darth Vader's Helmet thing he would have a mother of a beard underneath.

Anonymous said...

From the BBC News:

"Growing a full beard to act as a disguise, former school teacher John Darwin (Canoe Man) used the name of a dead child John Jones to apply for a new passport - and even a library card."

Even a library card, for a dead child - that's all I'm saying on the matter.

Dick Madeley said...

Anonymous, you're right. These people with beards are all of a type. There's no greater crime than borrowing the latest Jeffrey Archer from your local lending library under the guise of a dead child.

Dick Madeley said...

And Nigel, so sorry I missed your comment up there.

Protest too much? Have you seen my stubble lately? I could quite easily grow a beard but I'm making this semi-shaved statement about men who hide their identity. It's a bit like your picture of Shakespeare in shades. We're clearly men hewn from the same lump of greatness.

Dick Madeley said...

And Katyboo1, too. No, in Return of the Jedi, they do take Darth Vader's mask off and he's not sporting a beard. However, he's good by that point. You might actually say that his black helmet was a kind of metaphorical beard. In fact, I would definitely say that.

NigelBeale said...

Funny, Dick, you're not the first person to tell me that I resemble The Bard.

Dick Madeley said...

Nigel, it's the sunglasses. They're identical to the pair he was wearing when he wrote 'Pericles'.

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