We were idly chatting over a coffee this morning when we got talking about dictators, as one does.
You know that guy, Stephen Hitler? said my companion.
Oh, I meant Adolf. Sorry. Was he the real dictator, or was it the moustache?
In what sense?
Well, in the sense that you shouldn’t really stand in front of German tourists waving your arm in the air with a finger across your upper lip.
You shouldn’t I agreed. It’s considered bad form.
And yet, he said, if Hitler had somewhat different facial hair, he might not have turned out to be such a bad fellow at all.
On the other hand, he went on, you can do that to Russians all day long and they won’t care. Waving your hand and making moustache gestures. All day long.
They might kill you on the spot.
They might, he agreed, but only because they’re Russians. They like that kind of thing when they’re not out oligarching or Grand-Mastering or KGB-ing the fuck out of the West.
Or they might poke you with an umbrella full of Polonium 123 or whatever the fuck you call it, I added helpfully.
You’re deliberately missing my point. What was it about Hitler’s moustache that made it worse than Stalin’s? After all, Stalin murdered more people.
It was a shit moustache, I said. A truly shit moustache. Bad.
Isn’t it funny, he said, how all brutal dictators have moustaches?
They don’t, I replied.
Mugabe, he said. Wild Bill Hickock.
Wild Bill Hickock wasn’t a fucking dictator.
He could be very nasty when he wanted.
He wasn’t a dictator. He was a gunslinger.
Ho Chi Minh.
Sorry. Ho Chi Minh had a beard as well. That doesn’t count.
Mussolini didn’t have a moustache.
Yes he did.
No he fucking didn’t. And neither did Idi Amin.
General Galtieri had one. And Pinochet. Banjer Suarez. Hugo Videla. Alfredo Stroessner.
That’s a South American thing, I told him. Kim Jong Il has no moustache.
Papa Doc Duvalier.
No moustache, but his terror gang had the coolest name of all time. The Tonton Macoutes.
Great blues-rock band. Duane Allman played guitar on the album.
Oh Jesus, I muttered, give me strength!
Zia ul-Haq! The Pope!
The Pope isn’t a dictator, and he has no moustache.
Yes he does.
You fuckin made that up, I said.
What about this? he answered.
Oh for fucksake, I shouted. Popes aren’t allowed to have facial hair. It isn’t Catholic.
But Jesus had a beard. And a moustache, he argued, reasonably.
Indeed he did, my friend, I assured him. But Jesus wasn’t a Catholic.
All right, he said. You have me there. Why don’t we just wrap up with this entirely irrelevant image of the Queen of England?
Fair enough, I concurred. Would you like a re-fill?