Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


A friend of mine recently posted a picture of himself with a new big Gandalfy beard. I told him that he should plait it into viking horns, because it’s ‘current’ (the rather un-current buzzword on The X-Factor which they seem to have been using for years). This conversation has translated into a poem, currently (see what I did there?) in the revision stage, and we’ll see how that turns out.
I’m finding beards featuring in a lot of things I have written lately. I’m not sure why this should be. I’m not even writing about my own. I’m beginning to believe that strange coincidences abound, which, coincidentally is one of the themes of my latest novel.. yes, that one, the one I’ve been dabbling with for at least three years.
A few days ago I discovered an old notebook in my coat pocket with two of my surreal doodles in it, one of which was this. The title, on the opposing page was ‘THIS IS NOT A MOUSTACHE’.

I posted it on Facebook. Everyone was far too kind to point out that I’d just referenced an idea of Magritte’s without doing anything particularly new with it, although it did prompt an interesting discussion about moustaches and beards. I was able to tell the story of how I once frequented a local pub. ‘The Windsor Castle’ which used to host the finals of annual ‘Moustache and Beard Competition’. I’m not sure if it was a national or worldwide thing. I heard it from a garrulous Irishman in another nearby bar which I always referred to The Diogenes Club, as it generally never sported more than five, generally unsociable, customers. This was perfect for me as I can’t be doing with crowds or, if I’m honest, distractions. When I was there I tended to do a lot of writing.
A few days later as I wandering home from The Diogenes Club I was stopped by a gentleman pushing a bike. He was wearing liederhosen and sporting a most extraordinary and magnificent moustache, standing out a good four inches either side of his face.

‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘Can you tell me —?’
‘It’s just down there, first road on the left.’ I said.

Since then, at a certain point every year I have noticed these extravagantly chin-tonsured gentleman sauntering down the street.
The Windsor Castle has recently closed so I have no idea to whence the bearded ones have migrated.
The Diogenes Club is no more either. It’s now a woodfired pizza restaurant. I think the building has a curse, as it seems to have less customers now than in its life as a local pub.

I shall watch for beard happenings. There’s some synchronicity at work, I am certain.


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