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Michael Rosen makes triumphant return to Twitter for ‘Beard of the Summer 2020’

Michael Rosen is way out front in the ‘Beard of the Summer 2020’ competition
Michael Rosen is way out front in the ‘Beard of the Summer 2020’ competition

Michael Rosen has an unlikely lead in the ‘Beard of the Summer 2020’ competition following his remarkable recovery from the coronavirus.

The good-natured competition (votes close on Friday) has showcased the children’s book author and poet’s enduring appeal - and the fact that he is now out of danger after an extended spell in an unnamed London hospital which included time in intensive care in March.

The Beard Liberation Front, an informal network of beard wearers, has confirmed that author, broadcaster and Arsenal fan Michael Rosen heads the shortlist for Beard of Summer 2020, followed by Michael Sheen, who currently stars with David Tennant on the BBC comedy Staged.

Beard Liberation Front organiser Keith Flett said: “Michael Rosen’s beard has been amongst those which has provided a consistently positive public image of the hirsute. Heading up the shortlist for Beard of Summer underlines that he still has beard power.”

Michael received hundreds of goodwill messages when he returned to Twitter. The popular cultural speaker and entertainer kicked off a long absence from the social media platform on June 12 to thank the NHS, tweeting: “From the moment I was spotted as having the virus to where I am so far must have pulled in the work and skills of over a hundred people working long hours. The NHS was and is a great leap of the human imagination designed to help us all. Forever grateful and believing in it.”

Later than day, he added: “NHS saved my life (3 times) at age 17.. spent 3 months in hospital, 4 weeks of which were in ICU.. back then it cost £10k for every 12 hours of care in ICU.. but that was one thing we never had to worry about.. #NHS is the greatest institution in our country.”

Actor Michael Sheen’s awesome contribution to great beard of the summer competition 2020
Actor Michael Sheen’s awesome contribution to great beard of the summer competition 2020

It wasn’t long - in fact later the same day - before his inimitable sense of humour got the better of him and he tweeted: “They’ve just opened the window. Presumably to check to see if I really can spit that far.”

The next day proved even more mischievous, with tweets about a wide range of topics and issues, spiked with inimitable humnour.

“They’ve been worried about my low blood pressure but they’ve brought me the Daily Mail so it’ll be fine in just a moment” and subsequently: “The big question of the day today has just been answered: how far will pee splash if you knock over the urine bottle.”

The author is a popular figure in Cambridge, having made many contributions to Historyworks, a Cambridge-based public art project, most recently for the Chisholm Trail artwork outside the Leper Chapel. He is also unafraid to enter into discussions about the wider cultural debate. On June 12, when Prime Minister tweeted eight times about Winston Churchill and statues, he took umbrage at Home Secretary Priti Patel’s defence of Churchill, tweeting: “Priti Patel says: Churchill ‘fought against racism and fascism in this country’. Really? Here he is doing Good Jew, bad Jew’. Michael Rosen: Good Jews and Bad Jews - according to Churchill”.

Later he threw in an unrelated apercu, posting from his bed on the ward:

“Nurse to bloke opposite: ‘Your urine is dark.’

Bloke: ‘The times are dark’.”

A family visit brought him much comfort:

“Pure joy of seeing family for an hour downstairs in the front yard. What a lovely gang they are. Lucky me. And some choice mini- Danish - almond and chocolate. O my days.”

“Yesterday I did the Quick Crossword very slowly,” he tweeted on June 14.

One June 18: “Jamaican nurse doing ‘No Woman, no Cry’ at full throttle as she does her shift. Beautiful”.

Michael Rosen in action at Great St Mary’s church. Picture: Keith Heppell
Michael Rosen in action at Great St Mary’s church. Picture: Keith Heppell

By June 20 he was buoyed enough to pen “My wheelchair days are over. Stick now. Sticky McStick Stick”.

More recently Michael has - as you would expect if not hope for - gotten embroiled in the debate about children returning to school. A tweet by someone called Albert today saying ‘I admire your work and am delighted you’re better, but the thing is, for people under 60 with no uhc [underlying health conditions] the risk is infinitesimally small and children need school and people need income. So probably the best way forward’ drew a single-word response from the writer: “Cruel”.

There have been setbacks. One tweet enquired whether anyone had enjoyed his new book, but it turned out that in fact it hasn’t been published as yet. He then tweeted: “In fact, I stand corrected. It seems that @Scholastic have postponed publication date, says @Underthecranes.”

It's a tough life, Michael. Welcome back.

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