I have sported a beard for over 60 years and, watching the BAFTA’s the other day, realised that at last I was really ‘with it’. The beard has become something of a fashion accessory, sported by almost every male celebrity on the catwalk and hirsute hero on the high street. But storm clouds are looming.
Despite their current popularity, the beard remain deeply divisive. One British barber and businessman has suggested a radical proposal to discourage bearded faces, or at least make some money off the men who refuse to renounce them. He proposed a tax on the bushiest of beards and presented his proposal to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Thank goodness, he’s now gone. I can imagine him implementing the new tax in his next budget speech. He’s not the first one to have had taken up this crazy idea.
Claims that Henry VIII introduced a beard tax in 1535 (despite possessing his own set of well-groomed whiskers) have found their way into numerous books, blog posts, and (of course) Wikipedia, but the tale seems to be apocryphal.
So brilliant was Henry’s idea that it was followed on by his daughter Elizabeth I, who ordered anyone who had grown a beard for longer than two weeks needed to pay a duty and cough up to the government.
The tax was in place as a means of status, Henry VIII had a long beard and it was a sign of high social class that you could afford the luxury of paying for your facial hair. A similar tax was in place in Russia but for opposite reasons. In 1705, the Tsar saw beards as uncultured, so administered for a levy to encourage citizens not to grow them. If they resisted, they had to carry at all times a silver or copper coin saying ‘the beard tax has been taken’ on one side, and ‘the beard is a superfluous burden’ on the other. The beard tax was eventually abolished in 1772.
Free haircuts for a year to the first detectorist to discover a beard token … only joking … but I would like to see it
MADE FOR ME?
You can always depend upon my friend Brian Ridley to come up with something most suitable. Brian is very interested in trench art and has found this King George coin with improvised beard and stamped with my initials. How cool is that?
YOU WILL BE PLEASED TO KNOW THAT I’M NOW FLAKE FREE AND SMELLING FRESH … ALL DUE TO MY NEW GROOMING REGIME … THANKS TO BULL DOG!
I never imagined that at nearly 77 I would be turning heads, but now that facial hair has become fashionable it has proven to be the case. Mrs John has just introduced me to a product called beard oil a product I didn’t want or ever considered buying!
I wasn’t convinced, but I now use beard oil as part of my grooming ritual even though a celebrated hairdresser once said, “Men should take care of their facial hair as much as they take care of the hair on their heads.” What did she know!
The real recommendation came when talking to my niece on Skype the other day and she commented on how sleek, shiny and well-groomed I was looking. Yes, beard oil has become a guilty pleasure … applying the stuff has become part of by daily regime. The scent is intoxicating … and Mrs John approves of the new me.
Some may say a man with a beard has something to hide. Some may say a bearded man is a lonely man. Let me tell you a law of the known universe. All great influential men had beards … after Robert Potter
List of Great Bearded Men: William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Confucius, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, King George V, Vincent Van Gogh, John Winter, Albert Einstein, Che Guevara, Santa Claus, Dick Stout, King Leonidas, Zeus, Poseidon, W G Grace, Sophocles, Most notable Pirates … and so on.
Check out my mate Dick Stout in the States … wonder if uses beard oil? Perhaps not … he’s a Texan cowboy 🙂