Johnson by Snipped Sam
Looking back my thing with haircuts began when at junior school when I learned about Samson and Delilah and deep down must have had something going on with the cutting of hair meant losing strength. Another part of this haircut thing, was around the time my Junior school appointed a new headmistress who was a very strict woman who believed that boys should look like boys and introduced a short hair policy. Even though my hair was very short, I still really worried when she came into the classroom to check the lengths of our hair. Occasionally she would take a boy whose hair she considered to be too long, back to her office so she could slipper him. However, the boy would have been warned previously and given sufficient time to have his haircut, I should add that this was the late 1960s and this was part of a boy’s life.
When I became a teenager my nice warm feelings about haircuts stayed with me, and at the age of fourteen although my hair was rather long, grown because it was fashionable and to be like other fourteen year olds. At this time, I had a newspaper delivery round and I actually delivered newspapers to Mrs Deakin. She remembered me from school and was always quite friendly on the odd occasion that she saw me. It was during the half term break that she introduced her nephew to me, he was about my age, and was spending a few days with her. Strangely later that day I saw them again in town, this time her nephew’s hair had been cut really, really short. She stopped for a moment to speak to me, remarking that they were going to the museum.
A couple of days later I saw Mathew when I delivered her newspapers, I nervously mentioned to him about his hair and he told me that his aunt just told him that he needed to go to the barbers, took him, told the barber what she wanted done and sat there and waited while it was done. He wasn’t at all happy about it, I thought it looked fantastic, but of course kept that to myself. Over the next few days and weeks I thought a lot about how much I liked Mathew’s haircut and also how strict Mrs Deakin had been at school about hair.
It was a Saturday morning when I next saw Mrs Deakin, I should just add that She and Mr Deakin had divorced years before. I had accidently put the wrong newspaper through her letterbox, and had to take the correct one to exchange it. She clearly was a little annoyed, she then told me off for not closing the gate the other day. I said that I was really sorry, but she seemed to still be annoyed and I again apologised and was walking down the path when she called out to me.
"By the way Johnson, your hair is a totally unacceptable length"
I turned around, she beckoned me back, I walked back up her garden path.
"Did you hear what I said?"
"Yes, Mrs Deakin"
"When I was your headmistress, I made you have your hair short, I would never have allowed you to have it this length"
"I know Mrs Deakin"
"You don’t seem surprised Johnson by what I am saying, in fact you look a little ashamed"
"Yes, Mrs Deakin"
"If there is something on your mind Johnson, you may speak freely"
"The thing is Miss, sorry Mrs Deakin, all the boys at school have their hair this length and the headmaster at my school isn’t worried about it so that’s why my hair is this long"
"Perhaps deep down you think otherwise Johnson"
"Yes Miss, sorry I mean Mrs Deakin"
"It’s alright Johnson, I don’t mind you calling me miss…. it’s hard sometimes growing up, isn’t it?"
My heart was really beating fast, I was thinking about Mathews haircut, I was thinking about her strict haircut policy, she was reprimanding me about the length of my hair.
"Please Miss, when I saw you the other week in the town, when you and Mathew were going to the museum, Mathew’s hair had been cut very short, I noticed because I had seen him that morning, I thought it looked very smart miss"
"that’s right Christopher, I took him to the barber’s, he didn’t particularly want to go, but I had his hair cut very short, it’s encouraging that you thought it looked very smart"
"I would be quite happy to take you to the barbers Christopher"
Nervously I just nodded.
"No changing your mind half way there, Mathew didn’t like it but he never questioned it, the same goes for you"
"Best behaviour miss"
"Have a think about it, I am free after school on Wednesday, feel free to report to my office with haircut money"
I was in a real dilemma, really excited in one way, very nervous how I would look with short hair and what the lads at school would say. It seemed an eternity to Wednesday, but there was no doubt that I wouldn’t go through with it. The day finally arrived, I delivered her newspaper that morning, there was no sign of her, but as the newspaper dropped through her letterbox, I thought to myself haircut for me tonight.
After school I went straight to my old Junior school which wasn’t too far, the secretary phoned to say I had arrived. She opened her office door and she was carrying her briefcase with her raincoat over her arm, she seemed in very good spirits.
"Nice and punctual Johnson, let’s go"
We walked to her car and we drove away.
"Wasn’t quite sure if you would show up Johnson, but pleased you have"
"Should be easy to park close by, you’re going to Turners, have you been there before?"
"I have my hair done there, in the ladies’ salon, the barbers’ is in the basement, I rang this morning just to check the barbers is open today, I didn’t want to march you in only to find they were closed for some reason, so best to check"
"the good news is you’ve got the same barber who cut Mathew’s hair"
I knew where Turners was, so my heart was beating really fast, as Mrs Deakin was now parking the car. We got out and then it was a short walk, it looked a rather old fashioned place, the sign said Turners Hairdressing, for ladies and their daughters and gentleman and their sons. We walked in the door, I hesitated a little.
"This way Johnson"
With her hand on my shoulder she guided me to the staircase, and we walked down, there was an opaque glass door, she nodded for me to go in and she followed. There appeared to be only one barber, a very smartly dressed, distinguished looking man with a very short neat beard, his hair was white and cut very short. He was cutting the hair of a middle-aged man, but he spoke to Mrs Deakin and nodded and said hello to me, we sat down.
"would you like the book again madam?"
"that would be helpful"
He handed her a book, which I quickly realised were pictures of haircuts, so she sat there looking at different haircuts, I thought to myself you’ve really done it, she’s choosing your haircut. I just sat there quietly. I nervously glanced over at the book, I could see that she was looking at pictures of boys with very short haircuts. The man’s haircut soon finished, he paid and left.
"If you would like to take your blazer off, young man"
I stood up and took off my blazer and hung it on a peg close to where we had sat, I walked towards the barber who was standing by the barber’s chair. Suddenly he put his hand up a said to wait a moment. He walked towards a chair which was near the barber’s chair which was a little a bit taller, it didn’t look nearly as comfortable as the barber’s chair. He then moved the chair further into the middle of the room and turned the chair round.
"We will use this chair for your haircut young man"
So, I sat on that chair, it seemed really strange that my feet were not touching the floor, but the major thing was me facing directly into the barber’s shop and Mrs Deakin was sitting to my right. He soon had the navy-blue nylon cape installed, along with a thin white cotton napkin tucked in at the back, he then combed my hair. There was a large mirror on the wall I was facing, so I could see myself, I felt a bit fidgety, but that would not be allowed, he walked over to Mrs Deakin.
"Have you chosen Madam?"
"This one, but I would prefer the sides to be shorter, I appreciate that Johnson would like sides but these are a little long"
"Very good Madam, I will do just token sideboards, which will be for your approval madam"
"What if I don’t approve?"
"Easily taken care of with a razor Madam"
"I knew I could rely on you after the excellent job you did with my nephew’s hair"
He returned to me.
"Right young man, I am about to start to cut your hair, I am sure you realise that you must face this way and keep your head very still for me"
"Good lad, I am just going to bend your head forward"
He placed his hand on my head and bent it forward, I sensed him collect some scissors, and the next thing I knew my hair at the back was lifted with a comb followed by a big snip, and this was quickly repeated and so the haircut began. This moment had seemed an eternity since Saturday’s conversation with Mrs Deakin, I was starting to feel more relaxed. I thought her choice of barber for me was perfect, it had been a really long time since an older man had cut my hair and I was really pleased about this. He was so smart looking, with a definite air of authority, certainly rather stern and I had no doubt that he would be giving me the shortest of haircuts. Mrs Deakin had brought in her briefcase, and as I could hear pages being turned I guessed she was reading, but I was also certain she was keeping an eye on "the boy in the chair". My head had been forward for a good while, but I was aware that the hair which had covered my ears had now gone and also the long hair which had been slightly over my collar had gone, because the steel scissors had snipped away at the nape of my neck. A good amount of my blond hair had accumulated on the cape covering my legs and knees, there were some very large pieces of hair. My barber told me I could lift my head up, which I was pleased to hear, he was now standing in front of me, the look on his face was stern, he combed my hair forward, he then cut my fringe. This was followed by some further cutting of my hair at the top which required by head to be bent a little forward. After this came a vigorous brush down of my head and face. He loosened the cape at the back, and then started to powder my neck and then above my ears, he used a brush similar to a shaving brush to apply and smooth it in, to me it smelt wonderful. He then tightened the cape again at the back of my neck and smoothed the cape on my shoulders.
I heard him doing something behind me, I was certain he was changing the blade on some clippers, yes, he was now standing beside me, with the clippers in his hand, he tilted my head to the side, and he started clipping, he used a comb to lift the hair and slid the clippers over the comb, he worked his way up the side of my head, after this he adjusted my sideboard, I sensed by the way he shaped it but the token sideboards were going to be a fraction of an inch below the top of my ear and by the way he shaped it very narrow. Following on from this, he folded my ear down holding it with two fingers and shaped above my ears, later I was to see the splendid arching he had done. He came around to the other side of my head and did the exactly the same. He then stood in front of me to check that it was all in order, checking with his comb that my sideboards were an even length. He then bent my head right down, and lifting my hair with the comb once again clipped away, it was such a lovely warm feeling, just what I had dreamed about, me with my head down and the barber at work with his clippers. These had to be the same ones he had used on Mathew, yes, they had to be. He eventually stopped and after a brush down which included a little powder on the stiff nylon brush, I heard him plugging something in, and then a flick of a switch, a different buzzing sound, so must be some different clippers, he was using them in the area of my hairline on the back of my head, bare blade with no comb, he was definitely applying more pressure. He had completed this and returned his clippers, he used a cut-throat razor in the area he had just clipped and a scrape or two on my neck. He then brushed me down, he then used a very stiff hand brush to part my hair at the side.
Mrs Deakin stood up and came over and walked around me, she remarked on how much she approved and was happy with my token sideboards. The barber then used some hairspray on my hair, then he handed me a hand mirror which I held whilst with another mirror he showed me the back and sides of my head. It was so short, he had taken my hair above the hairline at the back, so there was lots of bare skin, the tapering with the clippers was excellent.
I paid for my haircut, thanked the barber and left, we walked to her car and drove away.
"Will you go there again Johnson?"
"Yes miss, it’s a relief to have my hair short again if I am honest"
"I am very pleased to hear it"
"Thanks for taking me miss"
"That’s alright Johnson, but I do not want to see you with your hair that length again, I hope that’s understood, you were very close to being caned, next time I will not hesitate, I hope that’s understood"
"Yes, Mrs Deakin"
I visited my barber at Turners regularly from then on, I did have very mixed feelings when on my fourth visit I was transferred to the main barber’s chair. But nothing else changed, very short haircuts, with me on my best behaviour.