A beard with a point

I take special pride in my Vandyke beard, which is both scholarly and waggish.

Weekly pruning of the Vandyke is a ceremonial affair: sharpened Toledo snippers, a fragrant pomade of apple & cognac, a brush of hairs from the lumbar region of a Siberian fox. These are carried by Twemlow to the casement window, where the light is best just before noon. Next, a pewter dish of hot (not scalding) water, and the looking glass I stole from a tribe of Berbers in Morocco.

Then the crafting can begin: angles are measured and re-measured, the point is honed and re-honed, until courtly elegance is teased from rusticated gloom.

The beldams certainly appreciate a well-pruned Vandyke, and the pointier the better. When I join them afterwards in the Orangerie, I can actually hear their maidenly intakes of breath as I enter the room.

Call it vanity, but call it vanity with a social purpose. With my crafted Vandyke and my Pumblechook breeches, I like to think that I bring some glamour to their dull lives.



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