Richardsons a skinhead by Snipped Sam
I had seen Mr Dawson the barber standing outside his shop, he looked such a nice old gentleman, but I had heard that his haircuts were very short. For most boys in their teens in the 1970s he would have been avoided like the plague, but for me this was a stage in my life where I was fascinated and thrilled by anything to do with haircuts. One of my parent’s friends had recently been there and his modern hairstyle had been transformed to a much more conservative short haircut. I usually found his conversation rather boring but when he was speaking about his visit to Mr Dawson I listened intently. I liked how his long sideburns so popular in 1970s had been taken away and the very short neat cut of his hair at the back. One or two boys from school had gone there when they were much younger, and would make jokes about having donated all their hair there.
I was at a stage when I never went to the same barber regularly, always looking for somewhere different but had avoided the more old-fashioned places like Mr Dawson. I realised that he had reached the top of my list of who I would like to cut my hair next and one day I decided that I would go there to have my haircut, it was near the end of the summer holidays. He was standing outside talking to someone, I hesitated a bit, but he had seen me and asked if I had come for a haircut. Rather nervously I nodded, he excused himself from the person he was talking to and we went into his shop. He gestured to the barber’s chair for me to sit in, which I did and he said to sit right back into the chair, he slowly draped the white nylon cape round me and tucked it snugly in at the back, then took a strip of cotton wool from the chrome dispenser and placed it at the back of my collar, then smoothed the cape on my shoulders. The chair was pumped up to raise me to the right height, he then dampened my hair and combed it. He was very smart in his appearance with a traditional shirt and tie, dark grey trousers, black shoes and a long grey barbers coat. My parents friend had said that he was now approaching retirement but was having difficulty finding someone who would be interested in taking over the business
"I don’t think I have cut your hair before"
"No this is my first time here"
"First and hopefully not the last, but I’m sure you don’t want to be thinking about your next haircut before you’ve even had this one"
"Probably not, no"
"So, near the end of the summer holidays and back to school soon young man"
"Yes, next week"
"So back to school with a nice smart haircut young man"
"So, I think a nice short back and sides for you today don’t you"
"I think so"
I wondered what he meant by a nice short back and sides, but I would be finding out, my fair hair wasn’t that long anyway, fairly thick, a little above my collar, off my ears and I had medium length sideburns or sideboards as I and most lads called them then. He took a long pair of steel scissors and stated cutting the hair at the back which was just above my collar, he was pulling it tight and cutting as much off as he could, then combing my hair at the front forward he cut my fringe short, then one single snip took off my left sideburn and a single snip removed the right one. He brushed away the loose hair, suddenly I heard my name mentioned and someone said its him he’s in there. I recognised the voices, it was a couple of lads from school, who clearly thought it was a huge joke that I was there having my haircut. I turned around to look, but Mr Dawson soon placed his hands either side of my head and turned my head back to face the mirror. The trouble was the shop door was open because it was a hot afternoon, they were standing just outside looking in and making wise cracks.
"They’re from school, I wish they would clear off"
"Just pretend that they’re not there"
"I wish I could"
He had taken hold of some large Bakelite electric clippers,
"I’m just going to pop your head down, now you need to forget those silly boys"
He placed his hand on the top of my head and bent it forward, then with a comb he started lifting my hair on the back of my head and running the clippers over the comb, after a minute or two I heard more laughing and then
"Richardsons a skinhead, Richardsons going to be a bald boy"
I’d had enough, it had taken a long time to be brave enough to come to Mr Dawson for my haircut, now they were spoiling it, I went to lift my head up to say something to them, but immediately felt a sharp tap with the comb on my head and was told to keep my head down.
"I would close the door, but there is a nice breeze coming in, so I’m afraid you will just have to grin and bear it, plus if you get too hot the shorter hairs will stick to you"
He was now doing around and above my ears, taking the clippers up a really good way, then with some different clippers he edged the back of my head, I was aware that he was clearing and shaping my hair above the hairline and then he worked in the area above my ears. He then brushed me down, he then sharpened his razor on the leather strop and then shaved the back of my neck, by this time the lads had cleared of.
"Looks like your friends have lost interest in your haircut, now I just need to take a little off the top and you are done"
He said taking his scissors and comb and cutting away at my hair, after this he picked up a small pot of white hairdressing cream and rubbed a good dab of it into my hair on top, and then combed the most precise side parting I had ever seen. He lifted up the mirror and showed me the back, he had cut the back so short, so there was completely bare skin well above my hairline. There was a wide white line where the hair had been, as I moved my head I saw it was exactly the same above my ears where he had really arched them. After a good dusting with powder I was released from the chair,then paid him for my haircut and emerged from his shop to face the world, rather self-conscious but with no regrets.