20 Things you need to know about beards
. . .determined to get to the bottom of the intriguing question - why oh why do 90% of the guys you meet on hills have one?
The Angry Corrie is frequently accused of rampant sexism, an allegation which it is futile to deny as we have obviously filled our pages with derogatory references to female hillwalkers and laddish innuendo. Undeterred by these accusations Perkin Warbeck now presents his most sexist - and, some would say, sexiest - article yet:
- It is not known who invented beards. According to William Blake (a favourite of the Corrie team) God has one and that would certainly be the first. As to who was the first human, obviously Esau is a good candidate. Bible scholars will remember that Jacob wore the skin of an animal to impersonate Esau. Equally ancient is Jerry Garcia of the pop group Grateful Dead. Moving on in time, the first connection with hill walking and beards has probably got to be Moses who climbed Mount Sinai sporting a veritable forest if we are to believe Cecil B. de Mille. He then came down to find his mates dancing round a cow. Funnily enough that has happened to me a couple of times.
- In Greek Mythology Zeus had a beard which was cut off by Diogenes in their dispute over ownership of the Horn of Plenty. Diogenes then threw the beard into the sea where it was found by the passing Argonauts. They were able to spin the fibres into the ropes which were used to haul the Wooden Horse of Troy.
- It is a strange aspect of beardwearing that the surfeit of facial hair correlates in a statistically significant way with absence of tonsorial hair (i.e. all beardies are baldy)
- There is of course the hoary old tale about how baldies (and by association beardies) are more virile. This is because hair loss is linked with slightly raised levels of testosterone. Big deal chaps. What's the point in all this testosterone pumping round your bloodstream (I hope it's the bloodstream it pumps round) if you're sitting in a festering bothy somewhere 40 miles from female company and 14 days from your last bath. (Hey, watch it! - baldy bearded Ed)
- It would appear that beard wearers are often proud of their hirsutia (see D. MacFadzean in TAC3: 'Bearded and proud o' it'). This seems a slightly strange attitude. Is anyone proud of the hair growing from their oxters or other unmentionable parts of the body?
- Famous beardies in history have included Redbeard, Blackbeard and Bluebeard. How they got these exotic colours is unknown. The most common sights in Scottish bothies are Tomatosoupbeard, Snotterbeard and Obscurebitofpastabeard.
- In winter conditions the beard occasionally becomes an attractive object by virtue of being covered up by icicles and lending a kind of Ice Warrior aspect to the wearer. Even on fairly inoffensive days a passing resemblance can be acquired to Reinhold Messner on top of Everest.
- Famous non-beardies in history have included Albert Einstein, Johann Cruyff, Randy Newman and Daniel Ortega. A pretty cool bunch of cats to be in with.
- What exactly is the Moustache and how does it relate to the Beard? While requiring a whole article to itself, this intriguing question must be at least touched on. Few hillwalkers affect the solitary moustache, favouring instead what Prince Charles calls 'the full set'. Famous moustache wearers include Freddy Mercury, Hitler, Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable - although his 'pencil thin' version again requires a whole separate category.
- In the same category as the Pencil Thin Moustache is the so-called 'Designer Stubble'. This is thought by many to have been invented by George Michael, but fans of the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns will know better.
- One of the most famous beard incidents in history was when Sir Francis Drake, an English sailor, 'singed the King of Spain's beard'. Sadly this practice has fallen into disfavour and the only English people who meet the King of Spain. i.e. Prince Charles and Lady Di - are more likely to accept a ride on his jetski than singe his beard. Actually I'm not sure he even has a beard. The only beard singeing going on nowadays occurs as hungry walkers bend over their trangias.
Kit out Murdo in the beard of your choice
- Top scientists estimate that 0.001 watts of heat loss are averted for every square centimetre of beard. In one minute this equates to the amount of energy used to say 'Why Antonio, many a time and oft upon the Rialto thou didst void thy rheum upon my beard'.
- The halcyon days of the beard were of course the late sixties. Che Guevara was on everyone's wall and the beard had never been more desirable. Pop Musicians were quick to follow and the circle was completed when it was realised that Rolf Harris had inspired Guevara in the first place.
- Scientists have struggled to explain why only men grow beards. A current expert Professor Aldus Shienhortz of Vienna University's Department of Human Anatomy told a TAC reporter 'Most of us Scientists now believe that the beard is a result of the male hormone 'lagergen'. This starts pumping round the body at puberty and causes a deepening of the voice, an interest in DIY, a curious obsession with the numbers and letters that follow the words Ford Escort, and of course the Beard'. Prof Shienhortz's results are of course very controversial, but it should be noted that the latter two effects are indeed both present in Munrobagging.
- In times past it was necessary for Scots to grow beards in order to frighten the English - e.g. Rob Roy McGregor, Robert the Bruce, Danny McGrain. However this is less necessary now and anyway beardies these days seem to inspire derision rather than fear - obvious examples being Noel Edmonds, Jeremy Beadle and Paul D'Aniels (that's a wig not a beard - Ed.).
- Just as the beardwearers lapse into the mystical to justify their position, so the other side occasionally stray from the straight and narrow too. For example, a current advert for the Gillette razor tells us: 'Gillette, the best a man can get'. We think that if we polled our male readership for how they would spend their last 3 minutes on earth, scraping their face with a sharp bit of metal might not be top.
- Is there some sort of notion among baggers that the beard helps keep you warm? If so, when did you last see an eskimo with a beard?
- A not-very-famous hillwalker called John Dow once claimed that beards constituted an artificial aid to climbing. Whilst this is quite a useful slag of beards, the same could equally well be said of sex aids and bondage gear, yet you never hear people whingeing on about them, do you now?
- Quite apart from God having one, there is an obvious correlation between religion and beards (e.g. Jews, Amish etc). And of course Munro Bagging is the modem religion that so obsesses the staff of your fanzine. In their case it probably comes from the text: 'And Sir Hugh, the Queen's messenger, was an hairy man and nary a razor skelped his face from November unto May'.
- Men with beards all tend to look the same. Who can honestly say that they can tell the difference between Karl Marx and W.G. Grace? This could lead to very dangerous situations when hillwalking on busy routes; it is very easy to acquire a member of another party and lose one of your own. The homogeneity of the hillwalking beard is at fault here, and a few people really need to cultivate a Jimmy Hill or a Frank Zappa for safety's sake.
In view of the fact that all famous left- wingers have beards - e.g. Karl Marx, Fidel Castro, Lenin, Dave Nellist - and that hillwalkers are similarly attired we wonder whether the converse is not also true: are all hillwalkers Socialists? Surely someone out there, bearded or otherwise, must know the answer to this. Write in and let us know!
TAC 4 Index