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Old School Rules by Shortbacker


Old School Rules

I was pleased that I was not the only new member of staff starting at the Middlehurst Preparatory School for Boys that term. The post of Junior English Mistress at an old-fashioned English public school was not the start to my career that I had in mind, but it was all that I had been offered. After a last-minute telephone interview with the Headmaster, I was offered the job, which I reluctantly accepted. Contracts were hastily exchanged by post and I was engaged to start a week later. I made up my mind to stay for as short a period as possible to gain experience and to use the time to look for something more suitable. However, I was beginning to feel that there might be some compensation. Being introduced with me in the staff room that day was the new Chemistry Master, a young Englishman fresh from university called Nigel Stevens. He was closer to my age than any of the other staff and not unpleasant on the eye, being tall and lean, with distinctive boyish mop of long brown hair.

Dr. Silcox, the Headmaster, was an old-fashioned type. He had impeccable manners, a pleasant demeanour but that air of authority that demanded respect from his subordinates and struck fear into small boys who disobeyed the rules. The rest of the staff were an eclectic collection of middle-aged men who were taking refuge from the stresses and strains of the modern world in this cloistered academic environment and passing their time by attempting to impart knowledge to their young charges. The only other woman on the staff was the Matron. I was not told her name - just that she was the Matron. She was a severe looking woman with a thin, unwelcoming smile, dressed in a starched white uniform with an equally starched and white headdress. The school was a remote outpost in the English countryside. The only place of note near to the old stately pile that had now been converted into a seat of learning for the sons of the middle classes was the village of Middlehurst. I did not pay it much attention when I passed through in the taxi on my way to the school, save to note that it had none of the trappings of the modern high street. It comprised solely of a few small independent shops clustered around a church and a pub.

The welcome meeting was followed by an address to the staff from the Headmaster, during which timetables were circulated and administrative notices were read. The school was due to open the following day, Thursday, when the new intake would arrive. The older boys were arriving on Sunday. I was beginning to lose interest in the endless lists of tasks that were being allocated around to my new colleagues and gazing aimlessly in the direction of Nigel Stevens, when I heard my name being spoken. "Those in need of a visit to Mr. Cropper will be dealt with first thing Monday morning. Mr Stevens and Miss Collins will assist Matron, by escorting the boys to and from the village." Having allowed my attention to drift from the Headmaster’s ramblings, I had no idea what it was I was meant to be doing, but no doubt that would become clear. It was enough to know that I had some escorting of boys to do, which should be well within my capabilities, and I would be with Nigel Stevens.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. I settled into my small bedsit room in the staff quarters, which was comfortable enough with a large bed and a small kitchen. I was to share a bathroom with Matron, who lived in the room opposite mine on the landing. We were on the first floor and enjoyed wonderful views over the surrounding cojuntryside. Unmarried male members of staff, including Mr. Stevens, were on the ground floor. I made myself dinner and settled down to writing lesson plans for my new classes. At around, 10pm I decided to ready myself for bed and headed to the bathroom. At that moment, Matron appeared on the landing. She had obviously just left the bathroom and was wearing a dressing gown instead of her uniform. I could not help noticing her hair which was short and very tightly-permed on top, but severely clippered high above her ears at the sides. I wished her goodnight politely to which she nodded, with what appeared to be an air of disapproval. As she passed, I glanced back to see that the back of her head, below the mass of tight curls on top, was also almost completely shorn of hair. I hastened into the bathroom and locked the door. I looked in the mirror and instinctively stroked my thick blond hair before brushing it to its full length. I had been so busy looking for a job that I had not had time to go for my usual three month trim. My hair was now well past my shoulders and slightly unkempt at the ends. I resolved to wear it in a ponytail until I could get to a stylist.

The next morning, I was awoken by the noise of cars outside the window and looked out to see a steady procession coming up the school drive. The new starters had begun to arrive and the school was suddenly bustling with activity. The Headmaster was enthusiastically shaking hands with new parents and cosseting nervous new boys towards their allotted Housemasters. Matron flustered and blustered around the main school entrance supervising the conveyance of luggage to dormitories and even managing the occasional sardonic smile as she assured reluctant mothers that their little boys would be perfectly fine and that a few tears at this stage was entirely normal. I was not particularly involved in the events of the morning. I was not a House Mistress and had only just arrived at the school, so I was little use in giving directions. I had several cups of tea and exchanged pleasantries with a few parents but, after a while, I decided to continue my lesson preparations. I therefore went off to find my classroom. I was pleasantly surprised to find it opposite the chemistry laboratory and to see the other newcomer in there, also preparing for the start of term.

"Hi", I said, offering my hand. "I’m Susan, Susan Collins, I believe we are both in the same boat."
"Are we?" he replied, slightly puzzled, "what boat is that?"
"New starters?" I said, quizzically.
"Oh that, yes, of course, how silly of me. Please, forgive me. I’m Nigel Stevens - chemistry", he added, unnecessarily.
"Yes, I had guessed that", I responded, looking around the laboratory. "Oh, of course, bit obvious really", he stammered, sheepishly before returning my handshake. There was a slight pause, before we both burst into laughter. The ice was broken.

The time passed quickly that afternoon as we both trotted through the stories of our lives so far and the circumstances that had brought us to this place in the middle of nowhere. He had wanted to do a PhD, but failed to get funding, or the grades. Not expecting to have to find a career so soon he turned to something that he thought would be easy. He knew enough chemistry to get by and his early experiences in an English public school that sounded a bit like this one would no doubt stand him in good stead. I suddenly remarked how late it was and that I had better join the main school before I was missed. As I turned to leave, I remembered the Headmaster’s briefing the day before and said, "Oh, by the way, what are we meant to be doing on Monday morning?"

"Hair cut duty", he replied nonchalantly, and disappeared into a storeroom.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully and the rhythm slowly began to return to school life. I awoke Saturday morning and looked out of the window to see Nigel Stevens dressed in a tight tracksuit jogging around the rugby pitch before stopping in front of a group of small boys.

"Not a bad looking body", I noted, before catching sight of Matron in the courtyard below, looking up at me with the same air of disapproval. On Saturday afternoon, I walked into the village for some supplies and was just about to set back to the school when I heard someone calling my name. It was Nigel, now dressed in jeans and a casual shirt. "Coming to the pub for a drink?" he asked.

"Love to", I replied.

The pub was very traditionally English with low wooden beams and a hearth where log fires burned in the winter. A few of our new colleagues from the staff room were nursing pints of beer in conspiratorial huddle in the corner. They nodded in recognition as we took a place by the bar and then returned to their discussion. They seemed to be talking about us and periodically a loud laugh was heard from that direction. We took hardly any notice and were soon engaged in easy conversation that flowed as if we had known each other for years. Spurred on by several glasses of white wine, I giggled helplessly as he lampooned our new colleagues with merciless humour. I joined in with what I thought was a passing imitation of Matron and he responded with an almost perfect imitation of Dr. Silcox. I told him about Matron’s hair and he muttered that it was probably one of the school rules. Time passed quickly and at closing time we both walked back to the school, at little worse for alcohol. At the entrance to the staff house, I turned to head up the stairs. "I have got a bottle of wine in the fridge," he said hesitantly. "Would you like a nightcap?"

"I thought you’d never ask," I fawned and followed him into his room. Without much ceremony, we were soon both naked and in his bed. The next morning, having returned in the early hours to my own room, I slept in late and awoke in the middle of the morning, with a headache, to the sound of the older boys returning to school. I tried to go back to sleep but it was impossible with the noise, so I lay on the bed with a satisfied glow as I recalled the events of the night before. I was soon horny, so I went to the bathroom for a shower and masturbated happily under the spray. On the landing, I bumped into Matron again, apparently just returning from church, who gave me a particularly unpleasant stare.

"Silly old cow," I muttered under my breath. I dressed quickly, went downstairs to Nigel Stevens’s room and knocked. He opened the door slowly and again looked sheepish. He was wearing only his dressing gown and his hair was tangled and bushy as if he too had just got out of bed. "Sorry, about that,"he said. "I think I might have had a bit too much to drink last night."

"Thanks," I said, sarcastically. "I was hoping you had enjoyed it."

"Oh, sorry. No! I did not mean it like that. I did! Very much." he stammered "Oh Christ! I am such an arse. I just meant…" I giggled at his embarrassed stumbling and pushed past him into the room.

"I think Matron might have heard us," I ventured.

"I think the whole school must have heard us," he responded, running his fingers gently through my hair and kissing me tenderly and pushing me towards the bed.

A staff meeting was called for 6pm to discuss the arrangements for the next day. The Headmaster read the list of announcements and then passed over to Matron. She said, in a brisk and business-like manner, that she had conducted her usual pre-term inspections and had found fifty-five boys in immediate need of Mr. Cropper’s services. Turning to me and Mr Stevens, she said, rather frostily, it looks as you two will be fully occupied tomorrow. I resisted the temptation to smile and glanced at Nigel. Matron continued that we should get started at 8.45am precisely. She said that we would work a relay between me and Mr Stevens, each taking five boys at a time. This would allow 15 minutes to reach the village and, assuming that Mr. Cropper maintained his usual speed of one boy every seven minutes, the next one would need to depart at 9.20am in order that there should be no gaps. That would allow the first of us to return to the school and collect the next party of five boys in order to be back by 10.10am. All being well and allowing time for lunch, we should be finished by 5pm. I was mesmerised. It sounded like a military exercise. "Any questions?", barked Matron.

"Yes", I said. "Where am I taking them?"

Matron raised an eyebrow as if addressing an idiot. "To Mr. Cropper, the school barber, of course, Miss Collins. It is in the village, next door to the greengrocers." It obviously looked as if I had failed to comprehend. "School rules, Miss Collins, clearly state that no boy should have hair over his collar or his ears. Sometimes parents are a little lax in ensuring that the rules are obeyed. It is my job to make sure they are. I shall be supervising operations in the barber shop and you and Mr Stevens will be escorting boys to and from".

"Oh, I see," I said, having been very firmly appraised of my ignorance of school rules.

During the first school assembly the next day, the Headmaster read out a list of boys who were to report immediately to Matron. I looked around the hall and noticed one or two of the older boys grimacing as their names were called and others smirking knowingly. I met Nigel at Matron’s office as he was pinning a list of the times and boys names on the notice board. Five boys were already standing in-line, ready to be the advance party. They would be going with Nigel on the first run and I would head down at the appointed time with the next party. Matron had gone on ahead. I surveyed the five boys. None appeared to be particularly hirsute. There was hardly more than a quarter of an inch of hair on any collar or below the top of any ear. It was a distinct contrast to the chin length locks of the chemistry teacher who was about to escort them to the barber.

Nigel set off and I sat down to wait. In time, five more boys assembled. I introduced myself and we set off at 9.20am precisely. We arrived at the village in good time and I looked around for the Mr Cropper’s establishment. Sure enough, next to the greengrocers, I spotted a rather dingy looking shop with opaque glass in the window. Above a door on one side was a red and white striped pole and a sign in flaking paint that said ‘E. Cropper - Barber’. The writing on the window also proclaimed that this was a ‘Traditonal Men’s Hairdressing Salon’. On the other side of the shop front was another door with a sign on it that read ‘Ladies Hairstyling by Gladys’.

I was pondering on the semantic difference between hairdressing and hairstyling as I opened the barber shop door and shepherded the boys through one by one, before entering myself. At the same time, Nigel Stevens was leading the first five boys from the rear of the shop. We crossed by the door. I caught his eye and he gave a short nod and a smile, before heading out into the street. I hardly noticed that the boys who followed him seemed to be almost completely shorn of hair because, at that moment, I heard Matron barking commands to the five boys who had arrived with me. "You’re first Jones. Get in the chair. The rest of you sit down." I looked around to see that the only empty space on the long wooden bench that ran along one wall was next to Matron. I sat down and surveyed the scene.

The shop was as dreary on the inside as the outside had suggested. The room was long and narrow with a wooden bench down one side. The floor was covered with old linoleum in a black and white chequered pattern. The ceiling was brown and nicotine stained. Light from outside did not penetrate very far through the frosted glass window and a gently flickering yellow fluorescent tube lit the back of the room. In front of me were two large old chrome chairs on beige enamelled pedestals. They had worn brown leather seats, armrests and headrests. Each chair had a foot lever on the pedestal just below the seat. The barber was rapidly pumping on the lever of the seat that had just been occupied by the small boy named Jones, causing him to rise jerkily to the height of a stained mirror on the wall in front of the chair. The mirror was surrounded by dark wooden shelves.

The barber moved to the front of the chair, where there was a cracked porcelain sink set into a marble counter with two large brass taps and a shower hose. He took a strip of tissue paper from a dispenser on the counter and wrapped it around the boy’s neck. Next, he unfolded a large blue and white stripped cape that he had lay folded over the arm of the empty chair. With a quick flourish, the cape was flung over the chair and fastened behind the boy’s neck. The tissue was folded down and the barber returned to the front of the chair where he busied himself on the counter below the mirror. His face was clearly visible in the mirror due to another large, grimy mirror that ran the full length of the wall behind me, against which my back was pressed.

Along the sink counter there were a variety of dispensers and jars containing scissors, combs and razors. On the shelves that flanked the mirror on both sides, there were shaving mugs, shaving brushes, a faded advert for condoms, tubs of brilliantine and bottles of hair oil. Hanging on hooks that were screwed into the front of the shelves, were more brushes of various sizes and a large, brown, electric hair clipper with a frayed cable coming out of one end into a plug by the floor. On another hook by the sink, there hung an old leather strop. There was a unique smell in the shop which I could not quite place. It was a mixture of strong soap, stale tobacco and the manly perfume of hair oil. Having collected something from the counter, he returned to the back of the chair before turning to Matron. He looked quizzically at her. "What are we doing here Mavis? Another tuppenny all off?", he chuckled.

"Short back and sides please, Ted", she said with considerable emphasis on short. "We don’t want to keep coming back, do we Jones?"

"No Matron," the small boy replied.

With his free hand the barber pushed the boy’s head down so that his chin was almost touching his chest and lifted the silver object that he held in his right hand to the boy’s neck. Then he started a slow movement up the back of the boy’s head with a constant rhythmic flexing of his fingers. I saw that he was holding a large pair of hand clippers with which he shaved a wide strip of hair from the boy’s collar to the crown of his head. As he reached the top, he flicked the clippers and large clump of hair tumbled slowly to the floor. Before it landed, he started to mow another strip, and then another and another, until nothing but stubble remained on the back of the boy’s head. The boy Jones raised his and stared sullenly ahead into the mirror, as yet unaware of the transformation that had taken place behind him. The rest of the boys looked on in resigned silence. My jaw momentarily dropped and I turned to look at Matron, who stared back impassively.

"Isn’t that a bit short? I thought the school rules said hair should be above the ears and off the collar." I said, weakly.

"School rules are what I say they are,"she replied with a slight smirk. "This will last him until the end of term."

By the time I had recovered my composure, the old barber had completely striped the back and one side of the boy’s head. He then positioned himself on the other side between me and the chair, before moving the clippers up to the boy’s ear again. Shortly, he put the clipper down on the counter and moved slightly sideways revealing that the boy was almost completely shorn all around his head. All that remained of his hair was feint stubble and a tousled clump of hair on top of his head, which the old man was now combing forwards. He began to lift sections of the longer hair with the metal comb before slicing through them with a pair of pointed scissors. In no time, the hair on top of the head was no longer than half an inch all over. The barber then combed the boy’s fringe forward before cutting it in a slant across his forehead. Returning his scissors to the top pocket of his jacket, he lifted the electric clippers from their hook on the shelf and switched them on. They cracked to life with a loud hum, which rasped as Mr Cropper started to blend the very short hair at the back and sides with the slightly longer hair on top using a steel comb as a guide for the clippers. Jones looked on unblinkingly as the old barber then used the ancient clippers to shave up from the hairline on his neck, before bending down each ear and repeating the process again. Finally, took a handful of hair oil from a dispenser on the counter, spread it liberally over the boy’s head and combed it across to one side, creating a sharp parting on the left. Taking a small brush from a hook, he dusted the pile of hair from the cape onto the floor and, with a flourish, removed the cape, placing it over his arm before throwing the tissue onto the floor.

"Next," he shouted as the shell-shocked, newly shorn boy left the chair, to be replaced by a small, red-headed boy whose mother had clearly not read the school rules on hair length. He was quickly caped and elevated to mirror height. I looked at my watch. The whole process had taken just over 5 minutes. I was shocked but I could not force myself to look away as the clippers moved into action again removing a great swathe of ginger hair which was unceremoniously dumped onto the floor to join the brown pile already there. The boy’s face gradually emerged from under a mane of floppy hair and the old electric clippers once again sprang to life to finish the job. "Next!" shouted Mr Cropper.

In no time at all, I was escorting five newly shorn boys into the street as they rubbed gingerly at the prickly spaces that were once covered with hair. Right on cue, Mr Stevens came along the street with the next group of victims. I could not help looking first at the group of boys and then at the flowing locks of the teacher. He smiled and walked on briskly.

Mr Cropper broke for lunch at 1.00pm, having completed the rapid shearing of 30 boys. He swept the hair on the floor into a growing pile in the corner and put the closed sign on the shop door. Nigel and I met briefly in the school dining room. Although I wanted to, we hardly spoke of the morning’s events and I did not notice the knowing looks of the other teachers. The afternoon shuttle began at 1.45pm and by 4.30pm I was escorting the last party of the boys into the shop, as Nigel was about to bring his last group out. As we passed he whispered, "I’ll meet you in the pub after this". I was just about to nod my consent when the Headmaster appeared in the street outside the barber shop.
"Well done both of you. Splendid job! I will take these lads back Mr Stevens. You go on in and wait." Nigel Stevens seemed pleasantly surprised. If he could just get someone to take the last group of boys back, we would both be free to go straight to the pub.

The shearing of the final few boys was as relentless as the first. It was as if old Ted Cropper, the barber, had warmed to the task. He clicked the hand clippers ever faster and higher, mowing with even greater precision. He snapped his scissors noisily, cutting even shorter than he had before. The old electric clippers, by now hot from the days exertions, gave out a loud grating buzz that resonated through the air and the final flourish of hair oil and comb was almost theatrical to behold. To my surprise, and from my safe vantage point on the bench, I found that I was becoming increasingly fascinated by the spectacle. Matron continued to look on unflinchingly, although she soon began to fidget a little on the bench. When the last of the boys was done, Nigel leant across and smiled sweetly at her. "Matron, would you be a dear and take these last boys back to school so that Miss Collins and I could slope of for a quick drink", he smarmed.

"Certainly not, Mr Stevens! We are not finished here yet", she replied, coldly

"But this is the last of the boys, Matron and you would be doing us a huge favour," Nigel continued, in vain.

"It may have been the last of the boys, Mr Stevens but it is certainly not the last of the haircuts. What about you and Miss Collins?"

"Us?" we both exclaimed simultaneously. "I think you must be mistaken, Matron", I continued. The last of the boys looked across, sensing the drama that was unfolding and hoping to have good tale to tell in the dormitories later.

"Oh, I do not think so, Miss Collins. The school rules are quite clear. As Mr Stevens well knows, the rules on appearance apply to pupils and staff alike. Check your contract." At that moment, the door of the shop opened and the Headmaster appeared. "Is there a problem, Matron?"

"Mr Simmons and Miss Collins do not appear to have read the school rules Headmaster and are refusing to comply with the appearance code".

"Oh dear!" said the Headmaster as he turned to address the boys. "You boys wait outside the shop please."

Rather reluctantly, the boys left. The Headmaster turned to Nigel Stevens and with a mild tone of reproach said, "Nigel, I am surprised at you. You of all people should know the rules. You will leave me no alternative but to dismiss you immediately." Nigel Stevens looked forlorn. He paused for a moment, looked at me, shrugged and then turned towards to the old chair. Slowly he eased himself in and the barber took out a strip of tissue and fastened it around his neck.

"Welcome back, young Stevens", chuckled Mr Cropper. "It’s been a long time. The usual is it?"

I was bewildered. School rules? In the contract? No, I certainly had not read it fully but did that matter? What had the Headmaster meant by ‘You of all people?’ And how did this old barber already know the new chemistry master’s name? I slumped back down onto the bench and stared at the floor in disbelief as the cape was once again thrown over the chair. Then it dawned on me. Nigel Stevens had been here before. He was an ex-pupil of Middlehurst School. Why had he not mentioned this in our conversations? There had been plenty of opportunity, both before and after sex. Surely, he must have known the situation on school haircuts? Why hadn’t he warned me? I slowly, raised my eyes to see the barber trying unsuccessfully to drag a metal comb through John’s bushy hair. After several tangled attempts, he tutted loudly, put the comb back in his top pocket and lifted the electric clippers from the wall. After applying some oil to the blades he took a large toothed plastic comb from the counter and popped the clippers to life. The familiar rasping hum trilled out as Mr Cropper lifted the hair that covered Nigel’s left ear with the comb and deftly ran the clippers along its edge. A curtain of long, chestnut brown hair slid to the floor revealing the hapless teacher’s ear.

A wave of panic flooded through my body. What was I doing here? What should I do? Should I simply stand up and walk out? No-one could stop me. I tried to move forwards on the seat, but was rooted to the spot as I watched five inches of hair from the back of John’s head being scythed through and tumbling to the floor. Before I knew it I had seen his right ear similarly exposed. The clippers were switched off and returned to the hook.

A brief calm descended. I looked at the Headmaster, who nodded kindly, and at Matron who folded her hands across her lap and smirked with satisfaction. The Headmaster stood and said to Matron "I think we can waive the rules in the case of Miss Collins, if she so wishes."

Without waiting for an answer he left the shop and collected the boys outside. Matron scowled. Then I heard the clicking of scissors as the barber set about the top of Nigel’s head, rapidly lifting and severing large chunks of hair, which soon rained incessantly down to join the growing pile on the floor. I glanced into the front mirror and saw an entirely new face. He looked younger without all that hair framing his face and I began to think about the glorious blow-job that I had given him just a couple of days before. The scissors were returned to Mr Cropper’s pocket to be replaced with a pair of thinning shears. These clacked incessantly all over the top of John’s head, causing another downpour of hair. The old barber went about his work with relish and before long he picked up the large hand clippers, pushed his victim’s head to one side and mowed a large stripe up high above his ear. He continued on around the head until all that remained apart from the stubble was a short thick pelt on top. With some more swift work with the scissors and the comb, the hair at the sides and back was blended with the top and John’s fringe was combed forwards and sliced through.

I was so entranced by the radical transformation happening in front of my eyes that I completely forgot my earlier anxiety. In fact, the recollection of our previous sexual encounter, together with the spectacle of John’s hair being sheared, had made the gusset of my sensible navy blue tights quite wet. Soon the cape would be whisked away and I would have to decide my next move. Although the Headmaster had allowed me to waive the rules, there was apart of me that wanted to show Matron that she could not intimidate me.

Panic rose in the pit of my stomach again. However, I was surprised to see Mr. Cropper fumbling to retrieve a towel from a pile on a shelf under the sink, which he then placed over Nigel’s shoulders. He ran some hot water into the sink and then into a large mug. He took a shaving brush and twirled it rigorously in the mug. Thick foam appeared which he brushed onto Nigel’s neck and above the top of his ears. Returning the mug to the counter, the old barber unfolded an ebony handled cut-throat razor and began to stroke it sensuously on the leather strop. He folded down John’s left ear and, using small strokes, dragged the razor down through the stubble about an inch above the ear. The shaving continued around the head, causing a pink strip of skin to appear below the, now much higher, hairline. The towel was used to wipe off the excess foam and a small rubber blower was used to spray talcum powder all over the pink shaved area. The barber took a large handful of hair oil and massaged it vigorously into what was left of Nigel Steven’s hair and then took a comb to carefully sculpt the hair on the top into a sharp side parting with a small quiff in the front. He brushed off the excess hair and released his victim from the cape.

Nigel immediately felt for the back of head and appeared to grasp for something which was not there. He leaned forward slightly and peered into the mirror before turning slowly to the bench. "That should last you for this term," the old barber commented as he carefully folded his cape over his arm and swept the pile of hair on the floor into the corner. Nigel looked at me forlornly before moving towards the door He certainly looked different without hair " more like a 1940’s film star with his hair slicked down into an angular wedge and white skin showing high above his ears. I could have thrown myself into his arms there and then. Suddenly, a familiar voice rang out "Next," shouted Mr. Cropper. I was startled from my sexual day-dreaming and immediately plunged into panic. There was a long silence. I looked at Matron, who stared back menacingly and indicated towards the chair with a nod of her head. Mr. Cropper stood patiently by the chair with the cape over his arm. Then, almost involuntarily, I stood up. Maybe it was the fascination with what it would feel like to sit in that chair, but I was slowly drawn as if by some invisible force towards it.

I moved past Mr Cropper to the front of the chair and eased myself down. Perched on the edge of the seat, I was surprised at how large it was. I stared into the mirror and saw a small, wide-eyed creature in the mirror staring back at me before being pushed back in the seat by Mr Cropper’s hand. The barber secured strip of tissue around my neck and the cape was swirled over the chair and fastened tightly at the back. The trap had sprung shut. Mr Cropper wasted no time in unfastening my ponytail and allowing my blond hair to fall across my shoulders. A small head poked out of the large expanse of cape, watching as the barber combed its hair across the top of its head and downwards. "What are we doing here ?" said the old man.

Before I could think of an answer, a loud, "School rules. Short back and sides," rang out from behind me. It was Matron and she was positively crowing.




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