World Leaders With Beards

Since there is no festival news we thought we would bring some funny, uplifting content to our site to put a smile on your faces during these difficult times


With barbers and hairdressers reopening in England over the weekend, the public was finally able to get their untamed lockdown hairdos trimmed and their beards tidied. This came not a minute too soon. During lockdown, there was two choices; either let your hair grow or cut it yourself. With many people not being able to cut their own hair, the only choice was to let it grow.

This led to the vast majority of people sporting more untamed styles over the past couple of months than they normally would, surprising colleagues on Zoom calls with their new look. But after Boris Johnson complained that he was starting to get dreadlocks because he had not had a haircut for so long last week, that got us wondering… what would Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and other world leaders look like if barbers and hairdressers remained closed for the foreseeable future? To find out, Get Me My Mortgage the specialist mortgage website for bad credit mortgagesself employed mortgages and bridging loans used the popular AI face editor FaceApp to find out, and the results are hilarious.


Boris Johnson

🇬🇧 Prime Minister

Boris said recently that he was starting to grow dreadlocks because he hadn’t had a haircut for so long, so he’ll be pleased that the hairdressers are finally back open. If they had remained closed for much longer, we might have had a very shaggy looking Prime Minister.


Donald Trump

🇺🇸 President

Trump’s infamous combover might have been compromised had he not had access to a hairdresser during lockdown. He is very particular who touches his do, telling the Hollywood Reporter “the only one I allow to touch my hair is Melania” in 2016.


Vladimir Putin

🇷🇺 President

Known for his love of riding horses shirtless and fishing, Vladimir’s lockdown beard would help him keep warm during his holidays in the Russian wilderness.


Emmanuel Macron

🇫🇷 President

French President Emmanuel Macron normally opts for a clean shaven look like most politicians. However, his potential new lockdown haircut reminds us of a young Bilbo Baggins played by Martin Freeman, minus the beard of course.


Angela Merkel

🇩🇪 Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have done the best job of any leader when tackling the pandemic, meaning she could re-open hairdresser early to tackle her long locks.


Justin Trudeau

🇨🇦 Prime Minister

Justin Trudeau’s potential lockdown beard game would suit him the most when compared to the other world leaders on our list. Wouldn’t you agree?


Nicola Sturgeon

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon versus Boris Johnson has been an ongoing feature of lockdown, and you have to admit she’s winning!


Shinzō Abe

🇯🇵 Prime Minister

They say growing a beard makes you look 10 years older, and this is certainly the case for Japanese PM Shinzō Abe.


Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

🇹🇷 President

Normally opting for a moustache without a full beard, we think Turkish President Erdoğan might have used lockdown to try something new had the barbers remained closed much longer.


Jair Bolsonaro

🇧🇷 President

Perhaps the most menacing of all our lockdown haircut and beard images, Brazil’s President wouldn’t look out of place as a Bond villain.


Kim Jong Un

🇰🇵 Supreme Leader

The North Korean dictator only allows 15 state-approved haircuts in the entire nation. However this policy might have gone out the window without access to a barber.


Xi Jinping

🇨🇳 Chairman

Famously banning Winnie the Pooh from China because of comparisons made about him, we think Chairman Xi might have grown a beard to hide the embarrassment!


Scott Morrison

🇦🇺 Prime Minister

Recently told to “get off the grass!” by an angry citizen while doing an interview on Australian television, PM Morrison has never attempted to grow a beard during his time in office. However, if restrictions remained in place much longer, he might have opted to try the lockdown look.


Giuseppe Conte

🇮🇹 Prime Minister

Italy was the first country in Europe to go into lockdown, so PM Conte might have had longer than most to perfect the lockdown look. The real question is, is he really Keanu Reeves in disguise?


Mark Rutte

🇳🇱 Prime Minister

Without a hairdresser to visit, Dutch PM Mark Rutte would struggle keeping his normally well kept combover in check.


Narendra Modi

🇮🇳 Prime Minister

India’s Prime Minister is the only world leader on our list who normally sports a beard. However, with boredom being an issue during lockdown, he might be tempted to try something new.


Sebastian Kurz

🇦🇹 Chancellor

The youngest head of government in the world, we think growing a beard might be a good idea for Chancellor Kurz, making him look a little older! It’s just a shame about the untamed hair.


Pedro Sánchez

🇪🇸 Prime Minister

With think Justin Trudeau’s beard suits him the most, but Pedro Sánchez’s effort comes very, very close.


António Costa

🇵🇹 Prime Minister

The locks of Portuguese PM António Costa might have became even more unruly had lockdown lasted a minute longer.


Stefan Löfven

🇸🇪 Prime Minister

With Sweden refusing to implement a lockdown like the rest of Europe, the PM might have opted to grow a beard to disguise him from angry citizens.

For Festival Newbies

This website hopefully contains useful information on Edinburgh and its August festivals for all fellow punters, both established and new. It should be particularly helpful to those who are trying the festival for the first time. However, beware all you newbies – you may get hooked!

The sections below provide some introductory information, including links to articles on other websites.

This sitemap will provide you with full details of what you can find on this particular website. In summary, far and away the most popular page here is A History of the Edinburgh Festivals. This is followed in the run up to the festivals by the pre-festival stuff page which includes links to articles on previews and recommendations across the media which will hopefully help you to make your choice of shows.

Flavour of the festival

To get a flavour of the effect that Edinburgh can have on punters and artists alike, read …
The World’s Greatest Art Event and How to Survive It, written by comedian Stewart Lee (2006)
Tales of the Unexpected by Lyn Gardner (2007)
Bloated, over-priced and unmissable by Richard Morrison (2008) – this is in The Times so you need to be a subscriber to access
… or take a look at our light-hearted experiences over the years or browse the info on some of our favourite shows.

Thinking of treading the boards?

Arguably, the most comprehensive guidance for would-be participants is Mark Fisher’s excellent book, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, which was published in early 2012. It covers all aspects of putting a show on from the interesting artistic aspects to the boring bureaucratic but essential elements. He followed this up by running a successful show at the 2012 Fringe which featured guests from all areas of the Fringe who were each able to relate their experiences. Audio recordings of these shows are available on Mark’s website.

The Fringe Society provides a number of guides which can be downloaded … The Fringe Guide to Doing a Show, The Fringe Guide to Selling a Show, Choosing a Venue and Registering a Show.

The Fringe Society also runs a number of roadshows around January and February each year. They are part guidance and part PR and marketing.

Visiting the festival

To help punters and performers with their visit … for starters there are over 2,000 shows for punters to choose from – and that is just on the Fringe … there are a range of short and sharp guides on various websites, including:

How to Visit the Edinburgh Festival in The List
How to Plan Your Festival and Get Tickets in
Planning Your Trip on the Fringe website.
If you are looking for something meatier then you can try my stuff on Choosing Shows or Food, Drink and Getting Around.

if you are interested in the beautiful city itself here is a potted history of “Auld Reekie” as Edinburgh is affectionately known.

Choosing shows

With the exception of the Edinburgh Fringe your choice of shows / events should be fairly straightforward, typically being driven by your personal tastes, possibly along with some recommendations from the critics.

However, the Fringe is a totally different ballgame. In 2012 there were some 2,695 shows to choose from, and the terse, sometimes misleading, descriptions in the Fringe programme brochure (which are limited to 400 characters) are not much help.

If you are the sort that prefers to make off-the-cuff decisions then you will probably wait until you get to Edinburgh and rely on “the word on the street” and reviews.

If you are a bit of a planner by nature you may prefer to make a start in June or July, possibly wishing to book some shows at that time if you suspect that some may sell out before the festival starts or, if you are not a local, you do not want to spend time queueing for tickets as soon as you arrive in Edinburgh.

It varies from year to year but some recommendations from the critics usually start to appear in June with the pace increasing rapidly as the end of July nears.

There are many media outlets that cover the festival – see my links page for a list. If you want some recommendations try The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Herald, The List and for their thoughts on the likely top shows. I try to provide links to articles that contain recommendations on the pre-festival stuff page.

When the Fringe gets going reviews will appear thick and fast, only slowing down in the middle of the final week. The quality of reviews varies widely and indeed it has been the subject of some fierce debate. I leave it to you to decide on which reviewers you have sufficient faith in.

Arguably the best source of information, particularly if you are undecided on a specific show, is the ubiquitous “word on the street”, i.e. the views of fellow punters in the place where you are staying, in the queue for a show, in the seat next to you, in the bar … et cetera.

If you are cramming shows in (4, 5 or more per day) then make sure that you can get to the next venue in time for the performance. Try to allow some contingency. Sods Law says that it will be the occasion where you have no contingency that the previous show will overrun.

If you want to browse the full nerd’s guide to choosing shows then here it is.

Finally, if you are only coming to the festival for a day or two and do not have the time or inclination to produce your own itinerary, and you are prepared to go with somebody else’s choices, then you can pay for somebody to produce one for you. Culturepie is one provider of such a service.

Edinburgh Magic Festival

The programme for the 2014 Edinburgh Magic Festival was launched on Tuesday April 22nd, 2014. Further details can be found on the Magic Festival website.

Early coverage of the launch can be found in The Edinburgh Reporter, STV Edinburgh and Thom Dibdin’s AE.

Here follows the press releases

The fifth Edinburgh International Magic Festival will once again bring the most innovative and talented performers from all over the world to Edinburgh from 27 June – 4 July 2014.

This year magic collides with theatre, science, comedy, history, sideshow, technology and psychology as performers from the widest fields of interest come together in Edinburgh to give festival goers the most magical experience possible.

In the Year of Homecoming Scotland, local magicians feature prominently in the main programme. Glasgow magician Michael Neto, who represented Scotland at FISM World Championships of Magic in 2012, brings his new theatre and magic production, in collaboration with Sonic Boom Theatre Company, to MagicFest. Harthill’s Colin Cloud is a master of deduction; he explores the snap judgements we all make about other people and life’s scenarios in his new show Forensic Mind Reader. Actor and magician Scott Smith from Edinburgh makes his MagicFest debut in the main programme. After a sell show at the Fringe last year, Scott performs at new venue MagicFest venue Adam House Theatre. London Magic Circle Competition finalist Billy Reid from Glasgow is one of the UK’s most devilishly brilliant close-up magicians and an expert sleight of hand artist.

Kevin McMahon, Edinburgh International Magic Festival Director, said: “Five years ago we waded into the busy Edinburgh festival market aiming to get live magic in front of public and to find acts that didn’t just amaze but also excited and inspired. Now over 5000 people come to MagicFest each summer. In the last few years there’s been a groundswell in the Scottish magic community of performers willing and able to create innovative shows and I’m delighted to programme so many quality Scottish acts this year.”

Each year a wide array of international artists also feature in the programme. This year the award winning line-up includes Lukas from South Korea who brings a sense of poetic artistry and visual manipulation techniques to Scotland for the first time, USA’s Rob Zabrecky a Magic Castle illusionist and character actor who has been twice voted ‘Stage Magician of the Year’ by the Academy of Magical Arts and Xavier Tapias from Spain, whose amazing animatronics act evokes the story of Pinocchio as he magically builds a boy from household rubbish.

Magician and psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman makes his MagicFest debut. An international bestselling author, Richard’s YouTube channel has over 1 million subscribers and 200 million views. Join him as he takes you backstage to discover the secret science of sorcery. MagicFest are delighted to welcome German artist Johan Lorbeer to Edinburgh for the first time. He is famous for his public “Still-Life” performances, which feature Lorbeer in an apparently impossible position, standing in mid-air ‘leaning’ against a wall with one hand.

In addition to bringing magic acts from around the world to Edinburgh, MagicFest produce unique events and develop new show concepts. Last year’s sell show The Secret Room at Lauriston Castle is back with three of Scotland’s finest magicians who animate the castle’s intriguing past with stories, performances and illusions. Magic Dinner at The Royal Scots Club also returns with an evening of fine dining and immersive magical entertainment. Magic School wizardry workshops offer 7-10 year olds the choice of either a 2.5 hour workshop or 5-day course with fun show for parents. Street Magic Masterclass gives 11-15 year olds the chance to learn some mind-blowing techniques and the secrets behind sleight-of-hand. Brand new show Tower of Illusion at Camera Obscura takes you on a magical journey where you must work together to defy illusion, solve riddles, challenge mystery and confront the unknown in a unique treasure hunt.

Since conception in 2010, MagicFest now produces one of the UK’s largest magic events, has consulted for the National Theatre of Scotland, broken a Guinness World Record and put together a series of shows and workshops as part of the celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday at the Globe Theatre in London. The Edinburgh International Magic Festival is leading the charge in the newly developing market of Magic Festivals appearing around the world, and aims to be the world leader in programming and producing innovative, cutting edge magic.

MagicFest works with various organisations that have supported the festival development and collaborated on some exciting projects and events. Among them are Point Hotel Edinburgh (now Double Tree by Hilton), IDEAS,, Lothian Buses, Jenners and Tree of Knowledge.

Kevin added: “In addition to our longstanding principal sponsors, we’re very excited to announce a new partnership with Krispy Kreme this year. I think it’s a wonderful match up and I’m looking forward to a very sweet relationship. Watch out for some in store magic at Hermiston Gait this summer!”

Open up to magic at the fifth Edinburgh International Magic Festival from the 27 June till the 4 July.

Edinburgh Festival & Art

Edinburgh International Book Festival

The 2014 programme was launched on Wednesday June 11th, 2014. It can be viewed online at the Book Festival’s website or a pdf version can be downloaded.

The overall theme this year is “Let’s Talk …”. There will be over 900 participants from 47 countries. I will bypass all the big names which you will readily find elsewhere, and limit myself to two areas. Scotland’s Future is a series of events which will hopefully show how the subject of Scottish Independence can be discussed without undue rancour. Secondly, the Spoken Word will be featured strongly this year, comprising new poetry from Simon Armitage and Rowan Williams, and the Babble On series which has been created in partnership with performance poet Luke Wright and will be produced by Becky Fincham.

Initial articles on the launch can be found in The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Bookseller, and The Edinburgh Reporter.

Links to previews, critics’ recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page as they become available.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The 2014 programme was launched on Wednesday May 28th, 2014. A preview reel of the programme can be viewed. There is an online version of the brochure, as well as the normal printed version.

This is the 68th Edinburgh Film Festival and it will showcase 156 features from 47 countries, including 11 World premieres, 8 International premieres and a range of special screenings and events. The Festival strands include the popular Animation, Shorts and the Director’s Showcase. New additions include Films on Film, Wicked and Wild plus a new take on Teen Spirit. Several special focuses are in the programme – Focus on Germany and Focus on Iran.

Various items had been pre-announced, including Hyena (the opening night gala) and We’ll Never Have Paris (the closing gala).

Articles on the programme launch can be found in various places, including Empire Online, Screen International, The List, The Scotsman, and BBC News.

Links to previews, critics’ recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page.

Edinburgh Art Festival

The 2014 programme for the 11th Edinburgh Art Festival was unveiled on Thursday March 13th, 2014. Further details can be found on the festival’s website.
On Wednesday May 7th, details of this year’s commissions and further information on the festival exhibition, which is mentioned below, were announced. Also, see the article in artlyst.

Where do I end and you begin will bring together curators from New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India and the UK plus 20 international artists. This will be the first major festival-programmed exhibition. It will be held at The City Art Centre to coincide with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the year of Homecoming Scotland.

GENERATION will celebrate 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland. It will feature work from a range of Scottish artists.

New Media Scotland will show new works by artists who are experimenting with technology in art.

Major exhibitions by leading artists will include new work from German artist Isa Genzken and Scottish artist John Byrne.

Exhibitions at the National Galleries of Scotland will include American Impressionism: A New Vision at The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.

Initial articles on the festival’s programme launch can be found on the BBC website, The Edinburgh Reporter and The Skinny.

Links to previews, critics’ recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page as they become available.

Edinburgh in summer. Street performer performing to a crowd on the street, during the Edinburgh festival. A unicyclist balancing on a tall pole, and performing balancing and juggling feats.

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

The complete 2014 programme was launched on Wednesday May 14th, 2014. Van Morrison and Jools Holland head the names who will be appearing at the festival, which will consist of more than 140 concerts spread over 13 venues and lasting 10 days. Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday July 19th and the festival carnival will be on Sunday July 20th. Full details of the programme can be found on the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues website. The programme brochure can be downloaded from here.

Articles on the launch can be found in and the Edinburgh Reporter.

Links to previews, critics’ recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page as they become available.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme was unveiled on Thursday June 5th, 2014 … or was it? The vast majority of the shows at this year’s festival had already been announced by the venues, and tickets have been available for purchase, some as far back as January.

An online version of the programme brochure can be viewed with the Fringe website’s interactive reader. Alternatively, a pdf version can be downloaded. Both facilities can be located on this page on the Fringe website.

The Edinburgh Fringe continues its inexorable growth, giving the Society its annual opportunity to trot out a range of yet higher statistics. The 414 page programme brochure which weighs in at 616 grams indicates that there will be 3,193 shows this year at 299 venues with a total of 50,771 performances. The number of shows is an 11% increase over the 2013 figure. At 34% Comedy contributes the largest number of shows to the overall total, followed by Theatre (27%), Music (13%) and Children’s Shows (5%). There will be over 800 free shows. Finally, 47 countries will be represented this year. Enough facts and figures!

At least the Traverse Theatre and Summerhall left it until the last minute before jumping the gun. The Traverse announcement was on Tuesday June 3rd. The online version of its programme can be viewed here. While Summerhall left it even later, the evening of Wednesday June 4th, 2014. An article on the Summerhall programme announcement can be found in The Edinburgh Reporter.

Articles on the programme unveiling can be found in various places across the media, including The Guardian,, The Herald, The Scotsman, The Stage and BBC News.

As there is a lot to digest, initial recommendations from the critics will no doubt take a day or three to appear, while ideas from this particular punter will take somewhat longer (at least a week to 10 days). They will all appear here in due course.

I am glad to report that our Fringe programme brochure has arrived in the post this morning (the day of the unveiling), as did the Traverse programme brochure. So no excuses for not making a start on the long haul that is our initial investigation of what’s on!

Obviously wrong about waiting a day or three for some recommendations from the critics. Lyn Gardner had her initial recommendations in The Guardian on the day of the launch!

Links to previews, critics’ recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page, as they become available.

This punter’s initial thoughts

We have completed our first pass of the ever-growing Fringe programme brochure. We are just the 10 days behind Lyn Gardner, the Guardian theatre critic, who had her initial thoughts in print on the day of the launch. I did tweet Lyn to enquire if she gave courses on speed browsing … but seemingly not. Much relief that, after the absolute dearth last year, there are three productions of Antigone this year. Normal service is resumed!

Our early choices tend to be driven by previous experience of performers, companies and venues. In no particular order then … Unfaithful, Spoiling, SmallWar and Cuckooed (all at the Traverse) … The Initiate and Lungs (Paines Plough at Summerhall) … Anthem for a Doomed Youth (Guy Masterson at Assembly Roxy) … Missing by David Bolger (Coisceim at Dance Base) … and that “punner extraordinaire” Tim Vine at Pleasance Courtyard.

There are 30 shows on our possibles list so far but further choices are likely to be delayed until just before the Fringe starts, after we have perused what the critics say. And, of course, final choices will not be made until we are there in the thick of it and have had a chance to read reviews.

Good luck with your own trawling through the programme. I have mentioned Lyn Gardner’s early thoughts which provide much useful information on theatre. The Fringe’s programme launch announcement is another useful source of help. Finally, have a look at the Made in Scotland Showcase 2014.

Pre-Festival Stuff

This page is split into two halves. The top section covers the launch of each festival programme for 2014 as they take place plus any early critical feedback:

Edinburgh International Festival
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
Edinburgh Art Festival
Forest Fringe
Edinburgh Magic Festival

The second half of the page is called Picks and Previews. It contains links to media views on the individual programme launches plus, from June to early August, a digest of links to the critics’ recommendations and useful preview articles.

Edinburgh International Festival

Tuesday March 18th 2014 is much more spring-like than the equivalent time last year when the Edinburgh International Festival was launched. There is a YouTube trailer which gives a very quick rundown of performers and productions in the 2014 festival .. don’t blink or you might miss some of it!

The programme brochure can be viewed online or downloaded in pdf format. The major theme this year is war and peace. Many Scottish critics are unhappy that the subject of (Scottish) independence is not being addressed.

The first article on the highlights of the programme can be found in The List. It was closely followed by The Scotsman, The Guardian, The Herald,, The Edinburgh Reporter and stv Edinburgh.

An initial critics’ guide appeared in The Scotsman on the next day, as well as early feedback in The Herald.

Links to previews, critics’ recommendations, etc across all the summer festivals can be found in the Picks and Previews section at the bottom of this page, as they become available.

Susan’s initial thoughts

My American friend Susan, who has been coming to the festival with her husband Cal for over 30 years, has been kind enough in previous years to let me have her thoughts on the International Festival programme. I am particularly grateful for her views this year, as she has not been well recently.

Susan and Cal consider that the 2014 festival programme is the best that Jonathan Mills has produced during his eight year tenure. They plan to see all three of the James Plays. On the music and opera front Susan has produced a comprehensive list of performances that she would, ideally, like to attend.

  • Holst’s The Planets-Donald Runnicles
  • Scottish Chamber Orchesra-Robin Ticciati
  • Nicola Benedetti (already hard to get tickets)
  • The Sixteen
  • Ian Bostridge
  • Collegium Vocale Gent-Phillippe Herreweghe
  • Nordic Savall-Les Concert des Nation, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
  • Stephen Osborne
  • The Hilliard Ensemble
  • Britten’s War Requiem, Sir Andrew Davis
  • Piotr Anersewski
  • Ute Lempur
  • Arditti Quartet
  • Bach’s Mass in B Minor,Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Hereweghe
  • Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony.I CULTURE Orchestra
  • Kronos Quartet
  • London Philarmonic,Vladimir Jurowski
  • The Tallis Scholars
  • Simon Keenlyside
  • River Car Consort
  • Concerto Italiano
  • Takacs Quartet
  • Czech Philarmonic
  • Anne Sophie Von Otter
  • Andreas Schiff
  • William Tell
  • Royal Concertgebouw
  • Frank Peter Zimmerman
  • Les Troyens,Marinsky Opera
  • Mahler’s Symphony 6, Yannick Nezet-Seguind
  • Daniel Trifonov

This punter’s initial twopenneth

The James Plays are at the top of my list. We may not be able to see all three productions. It depends on our schedule. However, the plays will move to the Royal National Theatre in London after the festival, so we will have another opportunity to see any of them there. Ganesh Versus The Third Reich is another probable.

The Sixteen, and possibly The Tallis Scholars, will fill our choral music slots.

There is nothing on the Dance programme that grabs me just now, but I may reconsider as we get closer to August.