Posted by: Didapper PJ24 OCT 2008
Like Hadrian, I wear a beard. The two of us are in good company: just think, for example, of Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare (who wrote, “He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man”), Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, Fidel Castro, Salman Rushdie, ZZ Top, Gandalf, Dumbledore, Santa Claus and Jeremy Holmes. OK, so Grigori Rasputin and Harold Shipman may have let the side down, but overall we are a pretty impressive bunch, are we not?
And pretty sensible too. It has been estimated that the average clean-shaven man fritters away some 3,500 hours of his life at his pogonotomy. In contrast, the man who indulges in pogonotrophy will normally only devote the occasional few minutes to pruning his facial growth.
The exception is the pogonophile who indulges in pogonotopiary — a word coined by a beardie pharmacist friend to describe the practice of sculpting one’s beard into a goatee, a Van Dyke, a Hollywoodian, a Verdi, a Donegal, an imperial, a chinstrap, a soul patch or some other unnatural design.
There are other good reasons for giving up shaving. Think of the natural resources wasted in the production of shaving foam and brushes and the precious energy squandered by all those electric shavers.
Furthermore, poor shaving hygiene puts one at risk of barbers’ rash (or folliculitis barbae, as the dermatologists like to call it), in which the hair follicles become inflamed through infection with horrid little streptococci or staphylococci.
But growing a beard does have one disadvantage, and that is the threat of discrimination by pogonophobes. I gave up shaving years ago while I was managing a branch of Boots The Chemists. My decision incurred the displeasure of my superiors and precipitated my exit from the company.
Those scholarly pogonologists the Beard Liberation Front claim that to this day many employers frown on beard cultivation, often citing spurious health and safety reasons. For example, firemen have been sacked on the unproven ground that beards interfere with breathing apparatus. And the number of beardist employers is apparently increasing. Shame on them!