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Getting my hair cut

Posted by Simon Parke, 13 July 2017, 8.31pm

I went to the barber’s shop today.

There was no quartet but, wait a minute, as I walk in the door, I see that one of the two stylists is a young woman with black hair and black mini skirt.

A young woman cutting men’s hair?! I mean, I like to think of myself as open-minded and all that, but, well -

She looks a bit like former rocker Joan Jett and there’s a small queue for her.

It’s usually blokes doing the cutting here, so I’m a bit surprised, but I try to act normal, despite the frisson in the air.

First things first: how long will the wait be? I’m not sure who is in the queue, so I try and find out.

‘Are you waiting?’ I ask the man sitting next to me, mid-sixties, I’d guess.

He’s looking at Joan.

She’s doing me,’ he says firmly, establishing his turf.

(Fortunately he doesn’t feel the need to urinate as well.)

He’s as keen as mustard for the forthcoming snip, I can see that, there’s not much else on his mind, and really, why not? How else is a man in his mid-sixties going to be willingly touched by a young woman in a tight skirt?

He’ll pay £10 and it will be money well spent… whatever the hair cut.

I’m not in the queue for Joan Jett, however; it seems I’m in the queue for Sammy, a gregarious young man of Asian descent, in crisp white shirt and black shorts.

He’s chatting football and boxing shit with the young man ahead of me; they’re a similar age, similar interests.

It’s mainly about the money, who’s earning what…millions, billions etc.

He refreshes himself at regular intervals from a bottle of diet coke, confident swigs, then back to the scissor work.

His mobile then rings and he looks at it and says:

‘Can I take this?’

‘No worries, mate, no worries, ’says his client, and Sammy is out the door for a while, chatting away in the sunny street.

This is one of the advantages of being a hair dresser over, say, a therapist. You can answer the phone mid-session and the client doesn’t mind; no abandonment
issues are brought to the surface by your actions and worked through thereafter in a transactional sort of way.

As soon as Sammy’s back, they’re straight back to Floyd Mayweather, ££millions and ££billions.

In the meantime, I’m wondering how Sammy is going to handle me.

We probably won’t be talking boxing, and I note the only time he looks vaguely uneasy is when he looks in my direction.

I feel like a haunting, a ghost from his past, he seems to look through me and then away.

Perhaps he’s thinking: ‘Old man with no hair. Why’s he here?’

Perhaps he can’t see my hair in the glare due to the angle of the sun (that must be it) and wonders what he is to do?

Whether we’re welders, writers, nurses or barbers, we all need material, we all need something to work with.

And what will we talk about?

So it’s interesting what unfolds.

When he has me in the chair, he ceases the one-to-one approach of former times and becomes ‘Master of the House’ engaging all and sundry in conversation, suddenly everyone’s life-long chum.

He talks with everyone, except me.

But it’s fine.

He has gentle hands, he’s doing a good job, and I’m happy not to be discussing my holidays…as he strikes up with a new arrival called Sandra, who he hasn’t seen for about three months apparently.

‘How’s Lewis?’ he asks. ‘It was Lewis, wasn’t it?

‘It was Lewis, yeh.’

‘So how is he?’

‘Oh I’m not with Lewis anymore, am I?’


‘He was cheating on me, wasn’t he!’

‘Oh dear.’

Sammy sounds genuinely disappointed in Lewis. Well, we all are.

‘And he was gambling away my money.’

‘That’s not good, not good at all.’

‘So he was out the door.’

Well, thank goodness for that, Sandra…that’s my think bubble.

‘So are you with someone new?’ asks Sammy.

‘Well, I was with someone…and it was going all right but then he started taking my money as well, bloody cheek, taking my money, so I brought that to an end. Not
having that.’

I feel embarrassed to be a man…even one with no hair.

‘So I’m on Tinder now,’ she says. ‘Testing the water.’

‘And why not?’ says Sammy affirmingly… though I can think of several reasons.

‘Yeh, I may have found someone, he seems nice, we’ll see.’

And all this in the last three months…

Meanwhile, Mid-sixties Man is still with Joan Jett, his thinning hair singing, as Sammy brings his fine work on my skull to an end.

It wasn’t tense.

But it was a close shave.


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