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Third time at Mr Herbert's by Snipped Sam
Following requests for a follow up story on Mr Herbert the barber, here is a story about a pre-Christmas haircut featuring Mr Herbert and his very tradional barber’s shop.
With my first haircut being at the end of October followed by a second identical haircut just four weeks later, Mr Herbert at the time of my second haircut advised me that I would be due for my next haircut just before Christmas. It was on the 22nd of December I went to him to have my haircut, the coal fire burned with a lovely glowing flame. He had a very small undecorated silver artificial tree on the counter and some real holly on the mirror above the fireplace. Also, a couple of Christmas cards on the mantle above the fire, I sat and waited my turn, as two elderly gentlemen were in front of me as well as one in the chair.
My turn at last comes and I stand up and walk to the chair, Mr Herbert prepares me for my haircut and as he does, he asks me if I am looking forward to Christmas, and he also asks me when I go back to school and I tell him it’s the 7th of January. He asks me what I shall be doing over Christmas and I tell him that we will be visiting family.
"So, you are going to need to be a really smart lad then for Christmas"
"Yes, and that’s why I am to have my haircut, you said I would need it done just before Christmas, and my dad agrees with you"
"You said the last time that your dad likes the way I cut your hair"
"Yes, he said you have given him his son back"
"That’s nice, and it’s always best to have your haircut just before Christmas"
Mr Herbert’s long pointed steel scissors were now snipping my hair. In their snip-snip action
"Well I will be expected to wear something smart a couple of times over the next few days, so another reason for a haircut"
"I expect dad likes you to wear a collar and tie then?"
"Yes, shirt and tie, along with jacket and smart trousers"
The jacket and trousers had belonged to my older cousin Richard, I had in the past been a little self-conscious when I wore these particular clothes as they were very tradional, almost old fashioned but now my hair was a lot shorter I was quite looking forward to it. Mr Herbert seemed to really approve anyway, and with this being my third time in his barber’s chair conversation seemed to flow a little easier. It also seemed that Mr Herbert no longer enquired about how my hair was to be cut, straight in with the scissors. Not that I was complaining, it was exactly the approach that I was wanting when I first went there to have my haircut. It was not long before my hair has been cut very close to my head, to be followed by a rigorous and thorough thinning out with Mr Herbert’s trusty thinning shears. Mr Herbert opens one of the wooden drawers beside the chair and takes out some manual clippers which he lightly oils,
"These have to be kept in the drawer so they are kept separate, that way I don’t make any mistakes by using the wrong ones and we don’t want that do we?"
On my previous two visits Mr Herbert had used the manual clippers that were on the counter beside me, I could see them sitting there, and I had replied no to his question about not wanting any mistakes.
"With you not starting back at school till the 7th and because its Christmas, you need to have it a bit shorter, but nothing for you to worry about"
He had his hand already on the top of my head and bent it forward
"Nice and still for me there’s a good lad"
He said, skilfully operating the clippers, which I thought definitely felt different to other manual clippers he used, as always, I could feel the hair falling away onto my neck. Then after folding my ear down and holding it to keep it out of the way he clipped above each ear. When my head was brushed down, I was very much aware of the quantity of hair landing on the cape. Mr Herbert then took his usual hand clippers and did some more work higher up my head. When my head was eventually lifted up and I was looking directly into the mirror I could see bare skin above my ears, and quickly turning my head to the side I could see that he had cleaned about an inch and a half of hair from above my ears and of course I knew the back would be the same. I had to be very quick as I knew Mr Herbert always expected me to face forwards, he was busy sharpening the flat razor on the leather strap so he could shave my neck Once this had been done he wiped my face and head free of loose hairs with a thin cotton towel, before applying some hair oil from the chrome dispenser and combing my hair into a very neat parting.
"One smart young fella ready for Christmas"
He said holding the mirror for me to see the back of my head in the mirror...he really had cut the back and sides so short, with about one and a half inches of bare skin above my ears and hairline at the back of my head, where just a few minutes before there had been hair. He had then clipped really short the remaining hair on sides and back of my head nearly up to the crown. My hair was still very short when I started the new winter term at school, just as Mr Herbert intended.