Before investigating this fascinating subject one should be clear from the start that beards are not merely hairy things that grow on the face. Admittedly they are hairy, but so are moustaches. They grow on the face it is true but so, of course, do eyebrows. No, there is more, far more, to them than that. They may be divided into species, as in botany, into categories, as in official reports into styles and into fashions. The three main divisions are of course as follows:-

BEARDS PROFESSIONAL as worn by sailors and artists.

BEARDS DENOMINATIONAL. Rabbis and Hindu’s

and   BEARDS AESTHETIC worn by people who just like beards.

Let us examine the Beard Aesthetic, the most interesting and most difficult to grow. These may vary in style from the all-round arctic or sailor beard to chin only types which, when long enough, one can jut imperiously at waiters. Imagine for the moment that you intend to grow a beard aesthetic. You will quickly find that there is more to it than the mere cessation of shaving. Armed with the necessary determination and if possible the moral support of some tried and trusted friend you should begin as follows. FIRST DAY: do not shave at all. Towards the middle of the afternoon, you will begin to notice the first manifestations of that most bitter opponent of beards, public opinion. Passive as yet, but apparent in the look of distaste from your erstwhile favourite typist who thinks you must have made a night of it.

SECOND DAY: you will be compelled today to shave the sides so as to leave a clearly defined patch of stubble. Resist strongly

the temptation to shave off the lot. As you look into your shavings mirror you will feel a thrill, a feeling of fierce pride in your masculinity. You’ll need it for today your ordeal will start. Waiting for the 8.15 your pride now tinged with a slight embarrassment you will await the comment of old Brown from “The Acacias” It will surprise you. “Something wrong with your chin Old Man? Shaving’s the very devil these cold mornings. Had a rash myself once. It – ”. Here” you interrupt as best you may. You find it difficult? don’t worry you’ll have plenty of practice during the day.

During the rest of the week, you will become aware of an increasing attention from people who hitherto had never spared you another glance. Among your associates, incredulity will give way to disapproval. You will positively detest your typist, she will giggle and murmur half-heard comments to the girl on the switchboard. The operative word, you’ll gather, is “Tickle”.

At any moment now you will be subjected to the most severe test of your moral courage-the Bleat. It will catch you unawares and on your reaction will depend on your self-respect. A sustained “Maaaaaah” derisive and practically unanswerable, one which you know instinctively is but the first of many. Can you take it and smile? If you can you are worthy of a beard. I have only seed it answered effectively on two occasions; once by a gesture, and once, when the perpetrators were two fat old women, by the answer “Moo!”.