Welcome Back to yet another weekend feature interview with some of the most influential movers and shakers in the Moustache and Beard world! We here at How To Grow A Moustache are very pleased and honored to have been able to (cyber) sit down with Tom Cutler of The Handlebar Club and get the skinny on the inside workings of possibly the world’s first Moustache Society to ever exist!
1. For some of our readers who are first time growers out there and may not have heard of your club, could you please give a brief description and history?
The club was founded in April 1947 in the dressing room of English comedian Jimmy Edwards at The Windmill Theatre in London, notable for its scantily clad ladies and their poses plastiques. There were 10 founder members of the club, including Jimmy Edwards and Raymond Glendenning, the BBC’s whippet correspondent. The minutes of that first meeting are in the Club archives and it appears that although there were a good number of founder members they were outnumbered by chorus girls!
The object of the club is to bring together moustache wearers (beards being strictly prohibited) socially for general conviviality. The club also helps by all means at its disposal, worthy charities and causes. Paid up club membership today hovers around the 100 mark.
We meet on the first Friday of the month at our present home, The Windsor Castle pub in Crawford Place, just off London’s Edgware Road, where we are happy to entertain visitors from around the world. If you get in touch with us via our website to let us know you are coming we’ll make sure there are sufficient sandwiches. There is always enough beer.
For those members who are unable to get to ‘First Friday’ meetings in London various branches, or as we call them, ‘nests’ have been set up, including some overseas. The first of these were Sweden and Norway and similar clubs have been formed in Continental Europe. Our first contact was with the Snorrenclub of Antwerp in Belgium and we now have friends around the world.
We hold AGM weekends away from London each year and we are pleased when any of our friends from other countries are able to come along.
Our attendance at international competitions is convivial – never competitive – though as part of our 60th anniversary celebrations, in 2007, we hosted the World Beard and Moustache Championships. We did once have a cricket team but the only sport in which we now indulge is the playing of darts. Raffles are usually run, with prizes donated by us Handlebarbarians, and the proceeds donated to charity. For a few years we’ve been playing against the Pipe Club of London. Though neither side takes the game at all seriously we have, despite thoroughgoing ineptitude, somehow won the last three contests.
2. Tell us a little more about your requirements, for some of your North American fans we have a hard time wrapping our whiskers around it:
“a hirsute appendage of the upper lip and with graspable extremities”
Graspable by whom, pray tell?
Graspable by whom? By any of our committee who fancy having a go. This requirement is delightfully loose, allowing for a multitudinous variety of lip weasels. The point is, though, that someone has got to be able to get hold of the ends. So long as that’s the case you are eligible for membership. In these days of sex equality, we welcome ladies with qualifying moustaches. Unhappily, we so far have no lady members with graspable extremities, though we do have lady ‘friends’ so our meetings are often decorated by beautiful moustache-loving young fillies.
3. We also see that beardsmen “need not apply”. Is this due to the fact that the bearded are not to be trusted and their only role in society is to forever be fishmongers and tuggers of graspable extremities? [Somewhere in there I think I answered our first question.]
The club has always disallowed beards, but only in the sense that a pigeon-fanciers’ club disallows rabbits on the grounds that they are not pigeons. We have many bearded ‘friends’, and maintain excellent diplomatic relations with the British Beard Club and other beard clubs around the world.
4. Your roster seems to beam w/ many a satirist and comic, would you say there is somehow a link between flamboyant facial furniture and a genuinely, most excellent sense of humor? If so, is there science to back this up and could you share this with our readers? [ What are your thoughts on this phenomenon regardless the hard scientific evidence?]
Not only are our moustaches archetypally British, so is our sense of humour. We often smile and seldom frown (though this might be all the beer we drink). Taking oneself seriously we regard as hopelessly vulgar.
5. What are your club’s plans for Moustache March? Is it as popular in the UK as it is here in the USA?
The Handlebar Club is closely involved with Movember: http://uk.movember.com. Mustache March seems at the moment to be an exclusively US extravaganza and has yet to hit us over on this side of the pond.
6. On a more sober note, what are some of the more recent events and charities you have put together? What does 2013 hold for The Handlebar Club?
See Here: http://www.handlebarclub.co.uk/newsGE.php, where you will find current news. You can find earlier stuff by looking in the back numbers of Graspable Extremities, or further back, in the archive section.
7. Can you share with our most inquisitive readers and me some stories of yesteryear club happenings? We ask that you keep it entertaining, educational and downright shocking if you would be so kind.
I’m trying to track down a video for you from the fifties, showing the HBC competing against some female dancers in a spaghetti-eating contest. [Posted below for your viewing splendor]
8. What are some of your clubs current Moustache wax favorites? Ours over here in the office is currently “Dandy Candy Moustache Trainer”.
See our WAX page on the website. When I’m waxing, I use something called Bounder, which is one of the few waxes that will keep my shrub in shape.
9. Now what is the story with Mr. Michael Attree? Strangely “A tree!” was my grandfather’s last words. He was a lumberjack. To us mustachioed Americans he is rather an enigma, a regular rock star of the stache even. What role does he play within the club?
‘Atters’ is a thoroughbred English eccentric who resides in the raffish seaside town of Brighton, on England’s South Coast. He is a committee member of the club and frequently causes a stir with his charmingly idiosyncratic remarks.
10. Recently here in the states I attended a meeting of a club chapter where most members were vegan and vegetarian. I mentioned I was aiming to approach your club for an interview in celebration of Moustache March. They were very excited and asked me to pass something along to you. It seems they reworked your chant, “brought it up to date” to quote them. They rewrote some of it to better fit their lifestyle, the verse about kissing a smooth face was more akin (to them) to tofu without soy sauce rather than the original lyric “meat without salt”. I am just the messenger here, but what do you think? Can you maybe amend it or at least add an alternate verse? They looked so sincere strumming their guitars. [Personally, I prefer a smooth face…at least on her end]
Well, it is generally agreed that kissing a man without a moustache is like kissing lady with one – that is to say, against nature.
11. And lastly, what are your feelings on the recent rebirth of the moustache? Granted a club as old as yours has seen this sort of resurgence before but is it different this time around, does it have staying power? [We do believe you played no small part in this recent uprising and we will dutifully point you out across the pond when the authorities come knocking. So let it be known.]
It remains to be seen whether the resurgence of the old biscuit duster will survive the test of time. But, whatever happens, our committee will go to their graves with their graspable extremities intact.
A special thanks goes to Mr. Tom Cutler and all the other gents of The Handlebar Club! All photos were used by permission from The Handlebar Club. The Spaghetti Eating Race video was used by permission of The British Pathe. To view the video below simply click on it…and I suggest you do. For more information and classic photos go to www.handlebarclub.co.uk Happy Moustache March and next week we bring you The British Beard Club!
Interview By Douglas Smythe
Contact Douglas at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SPAGHETTI EATING RACE 1959 [Click Image to View Video]