Golding's beard is here to staySunday, June 06, 2021
BY HG HELPS
FOR those who want a clean-shaven political leader in the form of one Mark Golding, Esq, they can, to borrow a phrase used by former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, “Faget it.”
Looking back, he is the only one to have headed the People's National Party, of which he has been president since November 7, 2020, or the Jamaica Labour Party for that matter, to keep the shavers away, and maintain a full beard.
So now, he has padlocked the hairy fairy chain that was kept open on his side by Norman Manley, Michael Manley, PJ Patterson, and Dr Peter Phillips before him, though Patterson did have limited hair on his face at times while he served as prime minister.
None of Sir Alexander Bustamante, Sir Donald Sangster, Hugh Shearer, Edward Seaga, Bruce Golding, and now Andrew Holness on the JLP side sported a full beard while they were in positions of control, unless they left their shaving apparatus behind while on unsanctioned trips.
But for Golding, wearing a beard is something that the now 55-year-old adopted from his teenaged years, and he, even in the midst of criticism from some in his own party, has no problem with it.
“I haven't shaved since age 19,” the Leader of the Opposition revealed to the Jamaica Observer during an interview last Thursday.
“I have cut my beard, but I have not shaved it with something like a razor all these years.
So what was behind him 36 years ago deciding to give razor manufacturing companies less business by maintaining a beard?
“It's part of who I am…the person who has a beard. I am comfortable with it, my family is comfortable, my wife is comfortable with it, and there were no medical considerations that went into determining that I wear a beard,” he said.
There has been criticism from visually impaired Senator Dr Floyd Morris, who, although demonstrating his support for Golding during the November 7 PNP internal election to decide who would assume the role of president, objected to Golding sporting a beard and also made fun of the now party president's mode of dress.
Dr Morris suggested then that Golding should shave and get a new wardrobe — pushing people to question how he arrived at that conclusion not being able to see, and if he was being urged to judge by other people busy noticing the lawyer and businessman by profession.
Golding said that his decision to keep a beard stemmed, too, from his fondness of Rastafarians as a teenager.
“I had an appreciation of Rasta from a teenager — an appreciation of their contribution to Jamaican culture, to Brand Jamaica, and Jamaica's creative industry. So, I respect them. I am not religiously inclined that way but I respect the Rastafarian movement. I was the person who pioneered cannabis reform that recognised Rastas for the first time in any legislation in Jamaica, and that was borne out of my respect for the movement.”
He had a rebel inclination too — something that his father, the popular orthopaedic surgeon Sir John, never objected to, although his mother, Lady Golding, was a bit concerned.
“My father wasn't worried about things like that. He was more concerned about being a kind person looking after mommy, looking after my sister, and poor people. He was more about ethical values.
“Lady Golding evolved over time, a very cool lady, but in my teenaged years she was a bit more straight-laced than my father,” he said of his mom who turns 90 later this year and who, like himself, has been fully vaccinated.
“I never wore locks but I was always a socialist, liberation person, always focused on freeing the people,” Golding stated.
As for adjusting his wardrobe as suggested by Dr Morris, Golding has already moved to address that.
“I have never been a person who focuses too much on superficial things; I am more concerned about feeling comfortable in myself. But I realise now that the position that I have, there are people who take account of appearances, and so I have adjusted accordingly,” he said, referring to him having a new wardrobe which would, perhaps, push his many bush jackets into the category of endangered species.
“Generally, I think I have to be a bit more formal in my dress so, I am a stylist,” he said, looking down at his seemingly newly acquired Cole Haan shoes, and suggesting that, generally, he has embraced a wider catalogue of fashion than even he imagined he would have, months ago.