2 July 2008
I've done it. I've done what almost everybody I've ever met in the last two years has implored me to do.
I've had a haircut. And a proper one.
I'm not receding anywhere, but nonetheless it was obvious that my efforts to grow my hair to a substantial length was not working, despite a dogged effort of more than two years on my part. My hair had peaked, as it were. Last time I grew it, in the 1990s, it didn't take this long to get a lot longer.
So, after much persuasion (what I believe is also known as "nagging" and "blackmail") from within my own walls, I made the decision to get the lot chopped. I ventured down the hairdresser's with heart in mouth.
Now, when someone like me turns up at a hairdresser's, it must be nightmareish for the customers who follow. It's just a good, long-established gentleman's barber which operates the simple queuing policy, and therefore the fellows of varying ages who take the seats in the waiting area and flick through the dog-eared pages of April's issue of Esquire must hate the sight of someone like me when they first turn up. It's bad enough having to wait for two or three haircuts before yours, but when one of the people ahead of you has hair to rival any self-respecting 1970s Argentinian footballer, it must irk you further.
That said, there is also much idle intrigue to be aimed at people who go to the barber's even though they have barely any hair at all. One chap walked in who I swear was bald except for those tiny scuffs of hair dotted round his head. I'd love to know what he said to the barber when his turn to settle in the springy chair came along. Frankly, if he'd stayed at home and stuck a wooden spoon between his teeth and then yanked out his own hair in fistfuls it would have been quicker and cheaper, if a little discomforting.
Three chaps were ahead of me when I arrived. One was in the seat, talking to the hairdresser about badminton. A teenage lad was next in, and they nattered about driving lessons while the barber applied the razor and gave this lad a Number Two from scalp to neck. Honestly, kids today have no imagination. Then the next chap, a middle-aged business chap, went in and while his greying barnet was trimmed down, they talked about fuel prices. This hairdresser had an opinion on everything.
My turn came. He and I recognise each other well, even though I've been consciously avoiding his establishment for two years. Three chaps were waiting after me, and I was aware that the long discussion about what to do with my wayward barnet would have been mildly irritating to the impatient future customers as they read that morning's Mirror and Express (newspaper reading to satisfy both ends of Hedon's political spectrum, then; and newspapers I hate equally).
Finally, he got to work and the conversation turned to football, Hull City, Wembley and the Premier League. When the job was done a good 25 minutes on, I'd ended up with a standard short haircut with a slightly foppish frontage. I wasn't convinced entirely, but as soon as the mirror came out I was giving it the standard "lovely, brilliant, thanks" spiel prior to parting with just £5.60 (northern life) and heading out. The short walk to the car consisted of a glance in every single shop window I had to pass, as if that was going to make my hair look any different, for better or worse.
It got a pleased reaction at home. It got utterly staggered reactions at work later, as most of my colleagues have never seen me with short hair before. The usual stuff about a "fight with a Flymo" was chucked at me, while my (very) long-haired newsy pal Wesley told me such a step was "unforgivable". A member of management stared at me for rather a long time to try to get used to this new look.
It'll grow back. That's what I keep telling myself.