Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Published in Another Haircut - The Challenge 2009; a collaborative writing venture by members and friends of the Anna Reiers website [Editor: Marit Meredith]

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

It's a sight I don't often see these days. But then I don't visit the barbers any more. What sight do I mean?

You must have seen a young child, watched over by a hovering mother getting his or her first hair cut. I must have been about four when I was introduced to Mr Fawkes, known to everyone as Guy. He was an ex-service man invalided out during the early days of WWII and fortunate to be retrained as a barber.

I remember being forced to sit on a narrow plank of wood, rough enough to leave a splinter in your bum if you did not sit still. Not that you had much chance of moving in the vice like grip of Mr Fawkes. Children were never allowed to call him Guy.

When I was older and permitted to visit his shop alone I soon realized why everyone called him Guy. If he had been the real Guy Fawkes, whom we had learnt about at school, I don't think he would have been caught before he had had the chance to ignite the gunpowder in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament. Guy was an awesome sight with a lighted taper in his hand as he approached intent on singeing the hairs on the back of the neck and in the ears of the victim in the chair.

It was no fun waiting your turn. If an adult entered you went to the back of the queue. However it was informative to wait and see which staid gentleman accepted Guy's offer of ‘something for the weekend,' especially when it was the vicar.

Guy's shop has gone together with his red and white pole. Guy went as well some time while I was at university. There is no barber's in the village now. Even if there was it would be a unisex hairdressing salon with nubile young girls to cut your hair. Now this is something I miss as you will see as this tale unfolds.

The men on my side of the family have all gone grey and lost their hair. In my case the first signs of grey were pointed out to me when I was just sixteen. The receding hairline just crept up on me over the years. However I still had sufficient hair to feel shocked when I was subjected to the brutal trim administered by an army barber on my second day at Catterick as a National Service man.

Later I thought about auditioning for Hair. Eventually I decided against it. There really was not much point as I can't sing and with three left feet my dancing is more one-sided that England's football team. The audience would have left in horror at the scene in the nude. After all, who wants to see a hairy ape on stage?

Children have a habit of asking awkward questions. However there are some who come to their own conclusions. Once when I was not wearing a shirt I was told, "Daddy, I know why you have no hair on your head. It must have lost its way and grown on your chest instead."

Hair has its own way of telling you when you should get it cut. In the days when I had to wear a safety helmet at work I knew the time had come when my hair curled upwards outside the brim, preventing my ear defenders from being deployed. While I was in Norway, the one thing that delayed corrective action was the thought that a haircut would cost you an arm and leg as well.

Hair's a funny thing; it grows profusely where you rather wish it didn't, like down you nose and in your ears. Far be it from me to conclude that here it is well fertilised. Isn't it strange that the ladies, and men too I'm told, get their unwanted hairs removed by using wax?

I don't go to the barber's any more. I really miss the attention of those young nubile things. I'm told they are not good for my blood pressure, but that's not the reason I have given up. The cost of a haircut soared so much that it was better to invest in an electric trimmer.

This has it dangers as she who wields the clippers has designs on trimming the hair on my back - because it gets up her nose in bed. I suppose I must be thankful that my ears are intact. She draws the line however at using the attachment to attack those nasal hairs and those with their roots embedded in wax.

Finally here's a safety warning. If you approach me from behind you had better wear dark glasses. My polished pate shines brighter than a landing light on a fly's aerodrome.

Bob Scotney 2009

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