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Issue 56 - You've nicked my beard!

Whisky Magazine Issue 56
June 2006


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You've nicked my beard!

Dave Broom has a hairy experience in Moscow

Tatiana looked concerned. That in itself was not surprising. She had a spirits competition to organise, foreign guests to herd, dinners to arrange, tastings to mastermind. But that wasn't what was on her mind.

“Did you hear about the letter?” she said.

“Any particular letter?” I replied.

“About you,” she said. “About your beard. About being sued for stealing it.” Now, I have long held to the belief that life is weird and the best way to cope with this fact is simply to go with the flow.

How, precisely had I stolen a beard, what's more, a beard which (I quickly checked), was growing on my chin?

Tatiana explained. Her magazine had published photos of the judging panel for this year's Vinnaja Karta Open, me included. No sooner had this appeared than she received a letter from a Russian man claiming to have taken out a copyright on my facial hair.

Her magazine – and by extension me – had failed to ask him for permission to do this and he was demanding compensation. In fact, since he was a strict teetotaler he was claiming damages as ‘his' beard was being used to promote alcohol. On a scale of weirdness that's up pretty high.

But how can you copyright a beard? I asked.

“Ahhh,” said Tatiana. “Russia!” This I have discovered is a common phrase in Moscow which is employed whenever something exasperating, amusing, bizarre and... dare I say... weird happens. It is said in a resigned fashion but with enough of a smile to show that the speaker is act...

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