The Sunday Edition

Michael Enright on being labelled a 'grey-bearded lefty,' after his life-long struggle to grow a beard

“I was stricken to the quick, not by the word 'lefty.' No, it's the grey-bearded reference which my lawyers say is actionable in a court of law. My legal team, from Lowe, Ball and Lynch, says that on paper anyway, Mr. Corcoran is guilty of ageism in the first degree.”
"Along with Irishmen named Corcoran, beards have always been an annoyance for me." (Credit: Frank Faulk)
Listen3:16

This corner will likely be silent for the next few Sundays, gladsome news to thousands of listeners.

I won't have time to expostulate. I will be in conference with my lawyers from the firm of Sue, Grabbitt and Runne.

I am launching legal proceedings against one Terence Corcoran — the esteemed, for some reason, financial columnist  for The National Post.

In a recent column, another jeremiad about the wayward press, Mr. Corcoran described me as "a grey-bearded lefty always alert for capitalism's failures."

I was stricken to the quick, not by the word "lefty." As has been shown time and time again, the terms left and right are meaningless in politics and indeed in Mr. Corcoran's own field of endeavour, economics.

No, it's the grey-bearded reference which my lawyers say is actionable in a court of law. My legal team, from Lowe, Ball and Lynch, says that on paper anyway, Mr. Corcoran is guilty of ageism in the first degree.

I have never met Mr. Corcoran. He appears from his photograph to be clean-shaven.
Terence Corcoran is a National Post columnist who, in a recent column, described Michael Enright as "a grey-bearded lefty always alert for capitalism's failures." (Twitter/Terence Corcoran)

And I am sure that should he ever decide to grow a beard, it would be charmingly light, blonde even, not the gun-metal grey beard of old men.

Along with Irishmen named Corcoran, beards have always been an annoyance for me. 

As a callow youth, it took forever to grow one. I started shaving early even when there was very little to shave. 

I lived in the feckless hope that if I Gillette-razored my face every morning, early seedlings of a killer beard would begin to sprout.

What got me wandering down the old hirsute trail was a Look Magazine cover picture of Ernest Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway, Cuba 1957, by Yousuf Karsh. (Copyright Estate of Yousuf Karsh)
The photo was taken by Karsh of Ottawa. It showed Hemingway in a seaman's knit sweater with a magnificent  white beard.

Maybe, I thought, I might even become a famous writer if only I could grow a beard like Papa.

In the early Sixties, Fidel and Che sort of destroyed the romance of the bearded hero. After all, they were Commies who wanted to rule the world; you wouldn't want to look like them.

In 1967, everybody seemed to be growing a beard in celebration of Canada's Centennial Year.

The best I could manage was a wimpy, wispy goatee that made me look like the maître d' in an opium den.

The latest recrudescence of facial follicalism is slightly better, but only just. And yes, Mr. Corcoran, it is grey.

I'd best not say any more, following the advice of my lawyers, Wacker, Weede and Cutting.

In the meantime, Mr. Corcoran, happy morning after St. Pat's Day.

See you in court.

Click 'listen' to hear the essay.