Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Barber Shop

I hate getting my hair cut, but when reports of shaggy yeti sightings in Central Texas go through the roof I know it's time to "become presentable" again. I am cursed with curly hair which renders a comb useless at the best of times, and after it grows past a certain length it just kind of explodes in a spectacular display of mop that would make short work of the dirtiest kitchen floor. A token rub with the towel is about the best I can do to subdue it.

So that's why I found myself sitting in the barber's shop this evening waiting for my spring shave, when it suddenly occurred to me what a strange place the hairdressers is. Half way down the room there was a lady who seemed to be having a roll of aluminum foil glued onto her head in an operation of near-surgical precision. And when it was the turn of the guy in front of me, I swear he asked them to "just touch up the mullet and mustache"!!!

The magazine selection was pretty abysmal unless I wanted to "transform my living space in 5 simple steps" (no) or find out what the Twilight stars eat for breakfast (not really), so I found myself thinking about my trips to the barber shop when I was a kid back in Wales.

Back then, we always got dragged to the same barber. He had a shop in the high street with the old fashioned striped pole outside. He lived on the same street as us, and I hung out with his son, so my mum "couldn't look him in the eye if you had your hair cut anywhere else".

Unfortunately, he wasn't much of an advertisement for his trade, with a barnet* like chewed spaghetti (which is kind of like going to a dentist who has two front teeth missing). But he was an old-fashioned barber in the grand Welsh tradition - just as skilled with banter as he was with his scissors.

The place was a "men only" establishment, with a sizable contingent of the flat cap (older) crowd, and I remember he was always in heated arguments with the customers, insults flying like mosquitoes (there were three main topics of debate - rugby, politics, and rugby politics). The waiting room was always packed, and many folks showed up between haircuts just to stand around and have a good argument.

I don't think it mattered what kind of haircut you told him you wanted, since you always seemed to end up with the same one. Most of the time he forgot to ask anyway. And even if he did, chances were he'd already run the razor over you, thus limiting your options.

Today I got my hair cut quickly and efficiently. The wait wasn't long, I ended up with exactly what I asked for, and I flirted shamelessly with the girl who cut it (and who always remembers me as "the boy with the cute accent").

I do miss the character and old Welsh-style banter though.

* Cockney rhyming slang - Barnet Fair = hair

1 comment:

John said...

As Harold would put it "He's dead now !"