Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A Revisit and some changes...

Well, what do you think of this picture? It arrived in my inbox last week from Sheri Manson. She was one of the gang of photographers shooting away upstairs at the World Beard & Moustache Championships, and incredibly has managed to turn me into an angel - a miraculous feat, I'm sure you'll agree, and well worth the year-and-a-half wait! Please have a look at her other work - her Photo Essay for Time Magazine and her personal website at www.sherimanson.com - certainly a cut above most folks.

Right, it's time to fess up - I haven't been writing on the Beard Blog because....the beard has gone! I know, the shame - but there was a reason. Well, sort of. I did rather get sick of it and had only grown it so big so I could have something to freestyle for the championships, so a couple of months later most of it went to the great beard collection in the sky. I decided to keep an enormous moustache and then I realised that it was perfect for the posters for the presentations I was starting to do on a more frequent basis about my Group Photograph project:

In between shows I don't shave - so I yo-yo between an overwaxed Kitchener and an "American Civil War veteran" (ie long bushy unwaxed moustache and grizzled stubble). I like to think this makes me not a complete fraud and I appeal for your understanding...

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A Collection Of Beardies

Here, on the most desperately cold miserable drizzly (I think the Scots call it "driech") day, here are three beardies taking shelter in the Maltings in Wells-next-the-sea during the Christmas Tide festivities. Cy (on the left) had the unenviable job of photographing the whole event - and just before he headed out to point his camera at the soggy lantern parade, he handed control over to his wife Cathy for this shot. On the right, with a sharp blade too near my whiskers for comfort, is Steve Parish of Past Alive (he and his wife Jo take Living History into Schools - tel: 01604 584307 for details). Having had the top of my head chopped, I have the least total hair - but was surprised when seeing this picture that my beard is the longest. You can see a bunch of Cy's other photos of the day here.

I met Cy earlier in the summer when he was photographing Allyfest - and for some reason he thought to take a picture of me:

If you want to see any more of Cy's work (and I tell you, he really knows what he is doing with a camera), have a look at http://www.cycoze.deviantart.com/

And finally, Merry Christmas all, bearded or not!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Another Photo Gallery

I've just had an email from Michael Elsden, who was one of the official photographers at Brighton - he's just put up galleries of his photos at http://www.elsdenimages.com/WBMC.html

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Monday, 17 September 2007

Videos are up on YouTube

All technical and geographical difficulties have been surmounted, and I have now put the footage my Sis shot at the World Beard & Moustache Championships up on YouTube. There are two videos - the first one shows the morris dancing and general milling around outside the Town Hall (highlights being a first sight of Jürg Biland's amazingly hugely wide beard - so big he has to walk through doors sideways - plus a nice view of my spats, and a very detailed all round view of Colin Bell, the nearly naked silver alien) - and then you get to see pretty well every competitor in the Championships as the whole parade walks by.

The second video shows the judging of the Partial Beard Freestyle Competition, in which yours truly took part - look out for Andrew Sheader's astonishing one-handed handspring which Sis did well to get centre-frame - in fact, given that she is only five foot nothing and was surrounded by big hairy guys in outlandish costumes, she did a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the event.

Since I last wrote, there has been a huge swell of photos appearing on the web - firstly you can look at the top three in each category on the Handlebar Club website, and they have also got a selection of other photos as well as links to a number of other galleries.

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Monday, 3 September 2007

ITV Local News segment now up

There's a good overview of the whole World Beard & Moustache Championship up on ITV Local - starts with a couple of minutes of silliness that went out live on the Friday evening local news, and then 10 minutes of footage and interviews spliced together from throughout the events of Saturday. I make a couple of appearances - once with beard clean and free, and the other fully waxed up.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

It's all over for 2007

Well, where shall I start? So much has happened over the last couple of days. I drove down from Norfolk on Friday - got down to the Brighton centre in mufti and with beard undressed to get myself registered and meet some of my fellow contestants - plus take part in a live local news segment for ITV Meridian (we were told it would be available for viewing at www.itv.com/local/meridian from Monday 3rd September) - I was standing next to the couple of guys they interviewed so may have got my mug on the box.

Then on Saturday, I was up early to give myself plenty of time to get my styling right. From my practice runs I'd realised that my upper cheek growth needed to go - it was rather wispy and just distracted from my design - but the thing was, this then involved a bit of shaving for the first time in a year - not something I approached without nervousness. I managed to avoid any major disasters and this is what I ended up with:

Beard - close up The whole costume ready to goThis is not at all what I thought I was going to turn out like a couple of weeks ago - a mix of running out of time and having to work with what I'd got rather than what I'd like. I was very fortunate to be able to talk firm-hold hair-styling with Johnny, one of the regulars at the library, who used to sport a triumphant mohecan - his product of choice was gelatine but I wasn't sure that was within the rules and so he pointed me towards Dax Wax and Silvikrin extra firm hold hairspray - and a bloody sticky concoction ensued which pretty well did the trick (though, because the span-to-weight ratio was not in my favour, I did have significant droop problems throughout the day - but enough of my personal problems...).

I arrived at the Brighton Centre at about half nine and went straight into the pre-judging - a process that is necessary to ensure competitors are entered in the correct category. Having shaved my upper cheeks, I knew I was no longer full beard, so I changed category to Partial Beard Freestyle - and then it was loads of milling around looking at all the fantastic facial appendages and an almost endless variety of costumes - with not many the same, which is quite something with 250 competitors. I didn't take a camera with me - but you don't need me to show you what everyone looked like - there was an incredible concentration of photographic equipment and already a load of pictures are up at http://www.flickr.com/ (search for "world beard" and choose to view with the most recent first).

Town Crier

After a call to muster from the town crier, we all headed off to the Town Hall to see the morris dancers and then to start the parade through the lanes back to the Brighton Centre. It was brilliant to see the smiles and laughter all along the route - in fact, anywhere you went during the day, people looked happy and full of life. I had some lovely chats with many friendly people, including a lovely interviewer from a local internet TV station.

And then the real action began as the judging for the first moustache category got underway. Unfortunately for a lot of the spectators it was difficult to see the detail of the follicular constructions (maybe next time they'll consider having a video camera at the front of the stage and a projector showing things on a big screen) and there were some inevitable delays whilst scores for each category were collated, but overall things went pretty smoothly and as the afternoon went on and the beer flowed and the hall filled (it was a complete sell-out of 2300 tickets), the audience got more and more involved - shouting out the ID numbers of their favourites in each category, and bantering with the comperes. The atmosphere when my category came on stage was brilliant - people love the freestyle sections and there really were some class acts on view (not only in terms of some of the most extraordinary beards in the whole event, but also the nearly-nude silver glitter space alien Silver Alien - maybe not the premier beard on display but an absolutely tremendous sight - a more outrageous piece of rampant exhibitionism I do not think I have ever seen and my God that guy's laughter muscles are going to be killing him today). My Sis videoed us all parading around (to go along with the footage of the parade of every competitor passing by in the street earlier in the day) - and when we've grappled with the technology (which may be a couple of weeks), I'll stick it up on YouTube for all to see. In the meantime, you can see the top three from the 23 in my category in Alison Millar's Flickr stream. I am proud of the fact that I had the only intentionally asymmetrical facial hair design at the championships (I think) but maybe the beard world is not ready for asymmetry (certainly a few fellow competitors pointed out with concern that my lefthand side was disconnected and dropping...). Whatever, there is no debate that the top two were in different class from the rest of us - professionals amid many amateurs.

After we came off stage, there were more photos - as a group and then upstairs for individual studio shots - some for individual photographers who wanted to expand their portfolios but a couple are going to be producing books and so there was a bit of interviewing to go with the photos - and then an "after" interview with the same TV girl I talked to earlier.

I managed to get back down to the hall for the start of the Full Beard Natural - in some ways this is the blue riband event, and you could see that in the large number of entries (there were something like 40 massive growths on show) and in the fact that the crowd was going absolutely bananas. Fantastic.

By the time the judging and prize-giving ended I was pretty shattered. As I was sitting up on one of the balconies mentally preparing myself to leave, a couple came up and asked to have their photo taken with me. They said they'd been rooting for me and I want to thank them for giving me a perfect ending to the day.

And now here I am on the day after. I haven't shaved the thing off - in times past my beards have come and gone in a fairly impulsive way, and I'm not sure I have the level of obsession necessary to grow for years and years and years (this one was 16 months for the longest bits) - but it would be good to have another go and with more material. I can't see myself going to the next World Championships in Alaska in 2009, but presuming the next one two years after that is in Europe somewhere, well, who knows?


Thursday, 30 August 2007

2 Days To Go: And Now A Mascot

The day is nearly upon us - and now I have a mascot - lovingly grown by Sarah and then wondrously sculpted by David. This brilliant carrotcature will be accompanying me to Brighton - though I still need to organise portable refrigeration to ensure his comfort.

As things get closer, I have been getting info through from the organisers including the following which arrived last week:

"We have 225 registrations to date and growing ( I seem to get 1 or 2 more a day at the moment) and we have sold well over 1000 tickets for spectators - fully expecting at least 1500. The Brighton Centre have opened up another section so plenty of room if your friends and supporters have yet to buy tickets - available at the Brighton Centre Box Office on the morning of 1st September.

Also loads of media interest - TV, Radio and documentary programme makers."

Details of the schedule are at: Event Schedule - including a parade through Brighton late on Saturday morning.

I'm really looking forward to it - hope to see you there.