First Skinhead by Stillcropped
It was the summer of 1972 and I had finally plucked up the courage to get the 'skinhead ‘look most of my peer group were now sporting, I had recently moved from the country to the city and although I had made a few friends I wasn't really fitting in so decided a major change was required. . I knew this was the shop most of the boys came to and some had teased me about my hair, saying it was time I went to a real barber. I had kept my decision a secret and now sat nervously in the barbershop waiting my turn. There were 3 chairs in the shop all occupied, the first barber was in his 30's and seemed to know everyone by name, all too soon the 'next' meant me and I made my way to the chair The barber was a no-nonsense man in his fifties, as he secured the cape around me my eyes were fixed on the clippers hanging on their hook 'What's it to be? ‘He asked
'Ehm skinhead please' he caught my eye in the mirror,
I had no idea what he meant, and was too embarrassed to show my ignorance so I blurted out 'Eh short as possible, please'
He raised his eyebrows then smiled and ruffled my thick blondish curls,
'All or nothing eh? 'I nodded, not entirely convinced of what I had requested.
At this the female barber at the next chair who had heard our exchange looked at him and in a warning tone said 'Danny?'
'What? Replied my barber sharpishly, a look passed between them then he said to me
'How old are you son?'
I was 13 but tall for my age so I replied '15 why?'
'No reason that's fine' he replied looking at the female barber who shrugged her shoulders and called Next to the waiting bench. Danny as I now knew his name put his hands on my shoulders and said
'One "proper" skinhead coming up' then surprisingly he disappeared from my sight.
As the seat next to me was filled I heard her ask the customer 'Skinhead is it, what number?'
And she immediately got the reply
'Take it down to a 2 all over' She reached for her clippers and fitted a comb to them and started running them over his head.
Danny was now behind me and he placed a leather pouch on the counter , he then unhooked the large clippers from their hook, placed his left hand on top of my head ,pushing my chin to my chest as I lowered my head he asked me ‘First skin is it?'
‘Yes' I mumbled
‘Well you've come to the right man, when you walk out of here everyone will know that you've have the pleasure of sitting in old Danny's chair'
With that the clippers buzzed against my neck and then he ran them several times up and down the back of my head and great clumps of my hair tumbled over my shoulder slid down the cape and landed in my lap. As he released his grip on me I looked in the mirror but my reflection hadn't changed ,then his hand pushed my head to the left the clippers roared in my right ear I could feel them tingling on my cheek then digging into my scalp as he ran them firmly up into my hair. There was no contest as the clippers simply removed everything in their path, I could feel a tear welling as I watched my head being turned to white skin. It took Danny less than a minute to have me sheared far shorter than any other of my school mates. My ears seemed to stick out at right angles to my head, my scalp clearly showing through the stubble that was left. As the boy in the next chair to me was being dusted down I heard him let out a low whistle and caught a look of dis belief on his face. Danny now rubbed my scalp ‘That's more like it eh' And he looked sideways at the boy pointed at my head and looked at his' If you want the proper skinhead look come and see Danny next time, in fact once I've finished him off I'll do you next, you up for it? He challenged.
I could see the panic in the boy's face, he stammered ‘N, n, no, ehm maybe next time thanks ‘and rushed out the shop.
As the shock of my scalping began to subside I suddenly panicked as Danny's words sunk in what did he mean by ‘Finish him off'? I was soon to find out! Danny rubbed his left hand all over my scalp and then declared
‘Pretty good, even though I say so myself but I've got just the fellows to even out the few strays that have escaped'
As he moved towards the counter I turned my head from side to side but saw nothing but white scalp and bristle, then suddenly he was behind me again and his firm hand was once again pushing my chin to my chest, I tried to pull my head back to be met with a firm reprimand ‘Keep still and I'll have you finished off in a couple of minutes'
I then felt cold steel on my neck and a strange sort of clicking sound followed by a firm tug on the bristles I now had for hair and then a release of the tension only for it quickly to be repeated over and over again. I caught sight of the now empty leather pouch and read the label on the flap” Oster Hair Clippers ‘0000' grade (1/250”). Danny was finishing me off with manual hair clippers I could now feel them gripping the short bristles, wrenching them from their follicles then the blade slicing through at skin level leaving me with almost a razor shave.
A tear dropped onto my shorn locks partly from the sharp pain the clippers inflicted and partly because of the regret and humiliation I was experiencing. I had been well and truly duped and at that moment in time I started to plan my revenge. Up until this point I had felt and heard the clippers now it was time to see their power. Danny was bending my head firmly to the right again ,and I saw him place the now warming blades flat against my cheek at the bottom of my right ear , click, click nothing click a sharp intake of breath from me as they grabbed the little stubble ,pulled it tight and then again sheared it off. I watched intensely as six times Danny opened and closed the blades moving slightly upwards after each stroke and always the same result, a sharp grip, tighten, release, when he removed the clippers from my head I saw a 1 ½ inch wide strip of pure white scalp stretching to my temple a full 2 inches above the top of my ear and I couldn't believe how long the short fuzz above it now looked. Danny continued all around my head leaving a circle of peach fuzz on the top of my head. He realised that my attitude had changed as he asked me in a matter of fact manner as he oiled his clippers ‘Over the top?'
My answer took him and I think myself by surprise ‘All the way Danny boy. Unless you've anything shorter?'
He smiled as he placed the clippers on my forehead, ‘Nope not until you're 16, then you can get the open razor until then you can feed these fellows free of charge every week. Deal?'
‘Deal Danny, Deal. And I'm sure they will be meeting a few more heads like mine in the not too distant future ‘
He laughed ‘I know they will and I'll make sure that they all pay in full, let's just call your freebies commission'
At that he dusted me of removed the cape and deposited all my hair on the floor, handed me the sweeping brush and said ‘There's a bin in the corner and that'll settle today's bill'
The female barber was cutting a small boy but she looked up smiled and said ‘you were very brave, and a little cute!' I blushed at the compliment then rubbed my hand over my scalp and felt sandpaper where only a few minutes earlier there had been a full head of blond curls which I swept into the corner along with my boyhood.