14 April 2009

"Going anywhere nice on your holidays?"


I had the hair trimmed again today. The longer locks are now a distant memory and as I'm 36 next month, a little less experimentation and more conformity is called for with the old barnet. So the barber received my custom.

Two barbers' chairs, normally for two barbers. But today it was just one. This annoys me because the customers just pile up like binbags during the winter of discontent, idly flicking through ageing magazines with coffee stains thereon, seemingly happy and able to spend entire afternoons waiting for it to be their turn to get their hair chopped. Your heart sinks when you walk in and spot that there are at least three blokes ahead of you, meaning you end up with at least an hour's wait. It doesn't take an hour to read a copy of Motorcycle News or the woeful TV guide that came with Saturday's Daily Express.

My barber has been in his little empire for a good 30 years, I reckon. There are many ladies' salons in the small town where I grew up, and each will happily take male customers too, but when the need such as mine is for a basic trim and nothing more, then an appointment-free scoot to sit in a barber's chair suits me fine. My hair didn't need washing, nor did I want coffee or to move from one corner of the salon to another with a towel round my neck. Sit, snip, pay and go.

So there I am, being very British about it all, not speaking to any of the other waiting customers - a pensioner, two lads in their 20s and a small boy dragged along by his mum - but merely reading magazines in which I have negligible interest and doing Twitter and texting on the mobile.

The small boy scenario took me back a bit, especially when it was his turn to go into the chair and his mum shouted across the room what she, not he, but she wanted ... I reckon it wasn't until I was 12 or so before I rebelled and told my mother that I was going to choose my haircut. As a swimmer I had to have short hair - swimming caps were commonplace but it was still easier to tuck shorter hair in - but I remember taking a pic of Paul Weller, in his sticky-up Style Council phase, and asking for that. I got it. It didn't suit me.

Knowing that I'd never get away with orange Howard Jones hair, the only other pop star hair of the 80s I thought I might like was Curt Smith's greased back style of 1986-ish. This meant growing it first, and I didn't have the patience. I finally decided to stop having my hair cut for a while when I was 15, and duly grew it through sixth form and journalism college, generally looking like a subtle blend of div and idiot throughout.

My brother once took a picture of snooker star Tony Knowles into the barber's and duly got that hairdo. It didn't suit him, given that Knowles had a soul boy style and our kid was wearing AC/DC T-shirts and denim jackets all the time.

Now I'm short and spiky - this is still the hair, arf arf - and it'll probably stay this way until or unless it falls out entirely without barber help.

And despite the prevalence of the cliché, I can honestly say that no barber has ever asked me if I'd like "something for the weekend". I would love to be asked though, if only to quote Patrick Marber's diary routine and reply: "Yes, please. A toupee."

1 comment:

Five-Centres said...

I used to hate being taken to the barber. He always page boy styled it, curling it under with the blow dryer. I got so furious once my mum made me get out of the car on the way home and walk. As soon as I could go on my own I did, and took pictures of, variously, Nick Heyward, Edwyn Collins and Nick Kamen so I could get what I actually wanted.

My dad still goes to that barber, and he still asks after us. After all this time.