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No leniency and no privileges by Snipped Sam
It was going to be interesting visiting the town where I had lived until four years ago, when we left my family had moved one hundred miles or so away. Due to a family friend being ill, my parents were going to visit him and his wife there were some private matters which were to be discussed. I would be spending the day with our old neighbours Mr and Mrs Amory, the year is 1974 and I am fourteen years old.
We arrived and Mr and Mrs Amory made coffee for my parents and after half an hour or so I was left with them. Mr Amory then suggested that I might like a walk into the town which I was happy with. I had always liked him, he had been retired many years and was very distinguished looking and usually always wore a shirt and tie along with a tweed style jacket. As we strolled into town he chatted away to me about the changes in the town.
"I expect you remember Mr Botright, Simon"
"Oh, yes… is he still around?" thinking he must be really ancient now.
"Yes, indeed he is Simon, although he has slightly reduced the number of days and hours he is open now"
Mr Botright had been my barber when I lived there, a nice enough man but had a no-nonsense approach to haircuts. He used to cut my hair so short, his haircuts were always drastic. My hair now was a typical 1970s style, over my collar, covering my ears and being blond I thought it looked amazing. My father however had a very different opinion about my hair, something we had argued about several times. I had often thought had we still been living here with Mr Botright, it certainly would not be its current length. We carried on walking into town when we reached there, first Mr Amory wanted to go to the post office, after this a trip to the tobacconist for his pipe tobacco. I was very aware that we were approaching where Mr Botright’s barbers shop was. We carried on walking and low and behold Mr Botright was standing in the doorway of his shop. He and Mr Amory immediately engaged in conversation, Mr Amory reminded him who I was.
"Why young Simon, how you have grown and how your hair has grown too, looks like you haven’t had it cut since you left here"
"I have it longer now Mr Botright, but I still have it cut regularly"
"Do you young Simon?, I think perhaps I should cut your hair for you Simon, it’s much too long"
"No thanks Mr Botright, this is how I have my hair now"
"That’s a shame Simon, hopefully one day you will be back in my chair"
I just laughed, I don’t think Mr Amory or Mr Botright were that happy with me but we said our goodbyes. The rest of the day was really enjoyable and later that day I discovered that my father would be taking over their friend’s business and we were moving back. Preparations were soon underway for our return to Lawnhampton. I was to start at my new senior school at the start of the new school year in September.
We arrived back just a few days before and my father took me for an interview at my new school which was a formality. My new headmaster seemed much older than the one at my previous school and far more formal.
"Yes, Simon may start here on Monday, Mr Anderson. I trust all is in in hand with his school uniform"
"Yes, headmaster all in hand"
"Of course, his hair will have to be cut before Monday, I trust you are aware of the school rules regarding the length of a boy’s hair"
"Yes, headmaster in fact I am taking him to the barbers after our meeting here"
"You lived here before so you will be familiar with the town"
"Indeed, Simon always went to Mr Botright’s when we lived here and Mr Botright will once again be taking care of Simon’s hair"
"We should have no worries there then, he is the preferred barber for the boys here"
"To be honest headmaster, it will be a relief to see his hair short again"
So, we left my new school and made our way to the dreaded Mr Botright, I kept thinking about what he had said when I last saw him, that hopefully I would be back in his chair one day. My father appeared to be in a good mood, after all the arguments and battles we had had over my hair I was going back to Mr Botright’s. I really felt that I was much too old to be taken to the barbers but knew it was not negotiable, I was totally aware that recently I had been openly defiant with regard to my hair and my father’s instructions for it to be shorter. So as much as I resented what was about to happen, deep down part of me knew I had brought it on myself. We walked into his barber shop, it suddenly all came flooding back to me, nothing had changed at all, I caught sight of myself in the mirror, my lovely blond hair. It felt I was having a nightmare, I thought of Bruno the guy who styled my hair, he would be horrified if he could see me in here. Mr Botright was in the middle of giving a boy a bit younger than me a short back and sides, we sat down to wait. He greeted us both and made a point of saying how nice it was to see me again. Eventually the boy was off the chair and had paid for his haircut, my father told me to stand up ready to be called to the chair.
"So, young Simon, you are having your haircut after all"
"Yes, Mr Botright"
He gestured for me to take my place in the chair and he soon had me prepared for my haircut, his dreaded white nylon cape all tucked in tightly.
"Nice to hear you are moving back Mr Anderson, I offered to cut Simon’s hair a few weeks ago, but he told me he has his hair long now"
"Well Simon didn’t know then that we were moving back here, and of course there are going to be a few adjustments for him. His new school is far less tolerant of long hair and his headmaster has already raised the subject of his hair. I shall be starting as I mean to go on regarding his hair, I am really pleased that you will once again be his barber and from now on its frequent visits to you and nice short haircuts"
"Simon laughed when I mentioned that I might cut his hair again, but of course he didn’t realise that he would be here quite so soon"
"He went to his usual place to have his hair cut just before we moved here, usual problem never enough off, I thought at the time it a good job you will be taking over"
"I take it, a good short back and sides for him, Mr Anderson"
"Please Mr Botright, a good short back and sides with no leniency"
"No leniency and no privileges"
"What do you mean no privileges?" I asked feeling both outraged and upset.
"No privileges mean you are not allowed to make any requests, say for instance you wanted sideboards if you had privileges you would be allowed to ask me, or be shown the back in the mirror at the end of the haircut"
"You are going to have to earn your privileges Simon, this is not the fancy place you have been going to where you were treated like a little Prince"
"No privileges will also mean you only speak when you are spoken to is that understood Simon?"
"Yes, Mr Botright"
He selected a pair of long steel scissors which lay on a shelf in front of the chair with three other pairs, he stood at the left side of me and lifted the hair that covered my ear with his comb and took a firm hold with his fingers then snip, snip, snip and my blond hair which had covered my ears fell onto the white nylon cape. He then did exactly the same with the hair which covered my right ear. Tilting my head forward he cut away the hair that had fallen over my collar, pulling my hair firmly and using his scissors with determined snips at the nape of my neck. He dropped handfuls of hair in front of me to rest on my lap covered by cape. After pushing my head further down he started cut my hair at the back, from the way he firmly pulled my hair with his comb I knew it was being cut very close to my head. Throughout my ordeal, it seemed very quiet apart from odd little bits of conversation with my father and of course the sound of his scissors at work. He lifted up my head and combed my fringe and cut it very short, this was followed by lots of scissor cutting, my hair had been thick. Sadly, for my hair he changed the scissors for his thinning shears and gave me a thorough thinning out. After this came a rough brushing down of my head with a stiff nylon brush.
"There young Simon, that wasn’t so bad, was it?"
"No Mr Botright"
"You have an awful of hair resting on the cape Simon, tell me when a boy has that much hair from a haircut is he a good boy or a bad boy?"
This was adding insult to injury, of course I had to say a bad boy because everyone knew I didn’t want this haircut.
"He would be a bad boy if he hadn’t wanted to have his hair cut Mr Botright"
"That’s right Simon, a very bad boy just like you heh?"
"Yes, Mr Botright"
"No good boy would ever have had that amount of hair, would they?"
"No, Mr Botright"
"But Simon, if you have the chance to show what a good boy you can be, would you like that? "
"Yes, Mr Botright" thinking what an awful little game this was but one I did not have any choice in playing.
"Do you remember when you used to come here and I used my clippers to make your hair nice and short?"
"Yes, Mr Botright"
"You are going to bend your head right down for me and keep it really still, so I can once again use the clippers on you make your hair nice and short"
"Yes, Mr Botright"
To my total horror, I watched him select a set of clippers and then change the blade on them with one from the steriliser. If only he would change his mind and say "no my hair is short enough" or my father would say he thought I had learnt my lesson and grant a reprieve.
"Down you go Simon…... I think you can do a bit better than that, I did say right down…...that’s more like it, now keep your head very still for me"
He switched the clippers on, they had a loud buzz, the cold metal blade touched the back of my neck, and he started to move them up the back of my head. The memory of noise of them removing my hair came back to me, as he ploughed away, after spending what seemed an eternity on the back of my head he turned his attention to above my ears. Once the clippers had been returned to the hook they resided on between victims, he gave my head a good brush down. Next, he took a shaving mug which he filled with some hot water and a shaving brush and shaving soap and applied it at the back of my head and above my ears. Using a cut-throat razor, he shaved part of the back of my head and above my ears, so in the mirror I could see an area of bare skin about an inch above my ears. My head and face was then wiped down with a rough cotton towel. He the applied a little oil to the small amount hair on the top of my head and brushed it all into place, with a very severe side parting.
"I would recommend Mr Anderson you make sure he keeps the parting on the side and not allow him to try and revert to his middle parting"
"I certainly will Mr Botright"
There now followed a mini volcano of dusting powder applied with the assistance of the stiff nylon brush I so hated.
"Well young Simon, that wasn’t too painful, was it?"
"No Mr Botright, thank you for my haircut sir" I replied not wishing to be reminded to thank him by my father
"It’s nice to have you back Simon…. If I were you Mr Anderson, I wouldn’t leave it much more than a couple of weeks or so till his next haircut, it will help him to get used to having short hair again and if he shows us he’s learnt his lesson we may even consider letting him have a little longer in the future"
"Of course, Mr Botright, but I think he needs a few more of these haircuts first"