Bye-bye beaver (beaver goodbye)

Credit: Pixabay.

In 2014 the BBC asked whether we’d reached peak beard1. Not really. Not by a long way, it seems.

Some despair; my mother, for example. What’s to become of us with all these beards?

Nil desperandum, ma. We’ve been here before. This was written about the ‘arty-and-crafty lot’ and the ‘back-to-the-landers’ of the early 1920s:

The men usually affected beards, until the sudden craze for ‘Beaver’ made them return to the razor. Two or more people walking down a street would play a twenty-point game of beaver-counting. The first to cry ‘Beaver’ at the sight of a beard won a point, but white beards (known as ‘polar beavers’)  and other distinguished sorts had higher values. When the growing scarcity of beavers ended the game in 1924 King George, distinguished foreigners, and a few Chelsea pensioners were for some years almost the only bearded men left in Great Britain.

(Robert Graves and Alan Hodge 1940 The Long Week-End2)

Just cry beaver3 and let slip the barbers of yore.

Disclosure: I have a beard, you can see it in Novembeerd, my piece on beards and beer.

Paul Fishman (Windermere, July 2017)

1. Have we now passed peak ‘peak’?
2. The beaver game also features notably in Aldous Huxley’s 1923 novel, Antic Hay.
3. By analogy, some woke folk cry gammon now, though usually on Twitter rather than in person.

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