Column: Ed Greenwood


Sporting one of these would be quite the achievement.
Sporting one of these would be quite the achievement.

Your Facebook walls are currently heaving with the moustaches of your friends, taken as (almost) daily self­ies to demonstrate their dedication. There aren’t any outright beauties here – when you first heard they were going to grow a moustache for charity you imagined whacking great big Salvador Dalis, or Lem­my-from-Motörheads so prominent you could wax them and actually use them to replace the handlebars on your Chopper. Or Hummer. Or whatever it is you young people ride nowadays. You might even im­agine a full on Karl Marx beard, in which case you’ve missed the point of this arbi­trary hair growing phenomenon, but nev­er mind. All in all, though, the ‘taches on display are a little lacklustre. It’s a bit like being the judge at a jerkwater country fair, looking up and down at baskets of puny misshapen courgettes and feigning amaze­ment. And why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

Because, as we all know, it’s for cancer. There’s no arguing that. They’re doing this in the fight against cancer. Not the giant astrological crab. Our own body cells have gone all mutant like in a Marvel film and are trying to kill everyone for no apparent reason (like a giant mutant crab), and it’s up to our moustachioed heroes to punch the living crud out of them. They may be low-budget but at least they’re doing some­thing.

As things stand, I have to begrudg­ingly accept that this is the right thing to do. Like most people, I have friends who have fought against, and died of, cancer, and know only too well how important this work is. All of you should sponsor someone if you have the means, because the money is needed and does go to a good cause. But let’s not forget that this should not be hap­pening.

Charities in the UK do the work that our butterfingers government are meant to do for us. Back in the day, the govern­ment did sweet Fanny Adams to help the poor, while parish relief and personal char­ity struggled to sew together a patchwork of support. It didn’t work. Read any of Wordsworth’s miserable poems about va­grants. Then came taxes and institutions in which to store poor people. Then came the idea of universal healthcare.

Despite the rhetoric of the right, we do have a National Health Service – it is meant to cover everyone, from cradle to grave. They mean well, charities, but in or­der to get as much good work done as pos­sible, they spend an unbelievable amount of money on advertising and salaries to lure in executives who they hope will man­age their efforts so well that they can make up for their own cost. They are not univer­sal. They can’t help everyone and provide a safety net for all, like the NHS is meant to do. At the moment, admittedly, the NHS is indeed a safety net, but sort of a shoddy old one with gaping holes in it, made from rusty chicken wire used by a travelling cir­cus with an ever-decreasing cast of acro­bats. The right wing are using the rustiness and expense of this safety net as an excuse to do away with it altogether – but sadly not everyone can afford personal staff to run underneath them with a Tempur mat­tress, and charities will never be efficient and broad enough to help everybody. We need to repair the net. At the moment, the net is being patched up with wispy adoles­cent upper lip hair.

For the meantime, it’ll have to do. It’s not the safety net we deserve, but the rusty hairy iron net we need right now. But we should not lose sight of the fact that if suc­cessive governments had their minds right, these charitable efforts would be mostly unnecessary. Sue me, write cryptic snide comments on the online copy of this article (or just on the paper one, what do I care), feed me to a giant mutant crab for saying it, but if I had it my way, these charities wouldn’t exist, and I could go back to mak­ing lazy assumptions that everyone with a moustache was a preening self-important douchebag.


I recently filled in a survey for the NUS. Its promise of £250 in a cash draw pro­vided the pleasing illusion that this count­ed as work, giving me an excuse to avoid my actual work that I actually had to do which had actual benefits at the end of the actual work. It quickly became clear that this survey was of course just market re­search for a brand that I will try not to give any free advertising to – suffice to say that this time it was for a brand of cidre. I mean cider. Hem hem.

I felt a little uncomfortable that my un­ion would be involved so heavily in mar­keting consumer products, but that didn’t stop me filling out the survey. After all, think of all the lager-brand cider I could buy with the £250 I was almost certainly not going to get from this. I was made more uncomfortable by the fact that the first real question (other than the usual embarrass­ing ones about just how long I’ve been at university and what the hell I’m doing with my life) made me quantify my alcohol con­sumption, and I was defensively ashamed to say it was the second most boozy answer possible. All the signs of problem drinking without the bravado of being totally com­mitted to drinking every single day. There is no pride in that.

I have decided to veil this shame with much feigned anger and surprise at the consumerist fawning of the NUS survey. Shame on you, NUS! I demand cidre!


Mussels grow on rocks - like plants.
Mussels grow on rocks – like plants.

Nibs like this one provide enough space to make assertions without the re­quirement – or indeed room – to really justify them or look at any arguments too closely. In celebration of this fact, this nib is dedicated to listing assertions which I hold sacred and refuse to explain to you.

1) Eating meat is wrong. Except maybe mussels. They’re basically plants.

2) You are either a feminist, or a mi­sogynist, or unwittingly a feminist who just doesn’t know what feminism means.

3) College spirit at York seems a bit ar­bitrary and pointless, doesn’t it?

4) There’s no point asking anyone for relationship advice, because everyone has ruined every single relationship they’ve ever been in except, perhaps, the one they’re in now – and even then you really have to wait until one of them dies to make sure they didn’t ruin it eventually.

5) Going clubbing is awful unless you don’t actually like talking to other people. And you have no sense of smell.


Notice: the writer would like to con­gratulate the University of York on their achievement of moving one flight of stairs to the library from its former reck­less and profligate location of “on the road” to slightly further along said road. We all knew it was dangerous and flagrant to have a flight of steps to the library going down to the road, and are relieved to find that the new steps only go down to the road, which is much safer. Gone are the dark days of going down the steps from the library and being confronted with the onslaught of ve­hicular death from the road – now we de­scend the stairs from the library and land gently by the road. The number of lives saved by this measure is incalculable.