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Science Project by CrewCut Ken


I went to an all boys’ school, when I was eleven in 1975. There were 30 boys in each class, with three classes in each year. My class had four tables with eight boys at three of the tables and one table of six. As it was the mid-seventies clothing and haircuts were mixed. We all had to wear the school uniform, which required grey shirt, grey trousers, dark green and grey striped school tie and green blazer. Some boys had a trendier approach to this as you could get grey trousers in a flared style and shirts with wide collars. I was not in this group, as I wore narrow collared shirts and grey knee-length trousers, with dark grey knee-high socks, which had two dark green bands on the turnovers. Shoes had to be black, but they came in a platform style. Mine, however, were plan low heeled leather lace ups.

Hair length varied too, with many boys still requiring the regulation short-back-and-sides cut regularly at the barbers. A small number of boys had started to frequent the unisex salons and had their hair styled as was popular at the time. Fortunately, I was in this category, as my auntie was a hairdresser at one of the salons and my mum took me with her, not that my dad was so happy with that.

On my table two of the eight boys wore the trendier uniform, and four of us had the longer length hair. Ken and Mark had really long hair, fully covering their ears and touching the collar at the back. Mine was not quite so long, my ears were just covered and the hair at the back remained just above my shirt collar. Pete sat next to me and his hair was like mine. Of the other four boys, two had short-back-and-sides, clipped high all round and the top had a side parting. Joe had his hair plastered to his head with brylcreem, whereas Paul's was natural. The final two boys, Alan and Bill had crewcuts, Alan's was clipped short all over with what looked to be the length of a comb's teeth, with Bill's being clipped to the skin.

Four of us wore the knee-length short trousers, with long grey socks combo. Two of the boys, Alan and Paul wore narrow legged trousers and traditional shirts with Ken and Mark in the trendy version.

On the last day before half-term a science project was announced. The class would be divided into three groups of ten. Each group had to work together on their project, which would be done during lunch time sessions and a couple after school. It would start when we returned from half-term and would have to be presented back to the class three weeks later.

My group included Pete, Joe and Bill from my table, with four boys from table 1 and two from table 3. None of the boys in the group wore the trendy version of the uniform, with six of us in the short trouser group. All of the boys barring me and Pete had short haircuts. As well as Joe, three other boys had short-back and sides. Mike and Tommy had it without brylcreem, but Albert's was plastered to his head like Joe. His and Tommy's was also clipped much higher up the back and sides, with arches shaved above their ears. Bill was joined by Simon with a crewcut, clipped to the skin. Chris had a basin haircut, his dad cut his hair around a basin. His fringe was cut high up his forehead, the sides were cut a couple of inches above his ears and the same height at the back. All of the hair below this was shaved off. Finally, Ian was shaved completely bald! He'd got dicks (head lice) the previous summer and his dad shaved all his hair off and kept it shaved every week. He'd have stubble on his head by the end of the week but would come back shiny and bald the following Monday.

We all changed seats so that for the duration of the project there would be three groups of ten in the class. We decided on a volcano for our project and all agreed our roles. Me and Pete would make the actual volcano, with others making the board, landscape, trees and a harbour.

Two weeks later we returned to school, all having had our 'back to school' haircuts. Albert, Joe, Mike and Tommy had their short-back-and-sides. Bill and Simon were clipped to the skin. Ian was bald as usual, but Chris didn’t have his usual basin cut. His dad had cut his hair much shorter, all the hair at the back and sides was shaved off with the top cut down really short (less than an inch long). Finally, Pete had had a short-back-and-sides. He had been the only other boy in the group to have longer hair. I was now the only boy in the group with longer hair, but only just. My dad had threatened to take me to the barbers, when I came back from having my back to school haircut at the salon, as he said it didn’t look any shorter. My auntie had to come around after work and cut it again, under my dad's gaze. I sat on a chair in our kitchen and my auntie put a cape around me. Dad then gave the dreaded instruction "give him good short-back-and-sides". I was about to argue, but fortunately my mum and auntie intervened, declaring that it was old-fashioned. Mum advised my auntie to take it a little shorter than usual, to appease my dad. I ended up with the bottom half of my ears showing, and it was a good inch above my collar at the back, but my dad had still not been happy, saying I looked like a bloody hippy!

We worked well on the project a couple of lunchtimes each week and Pete agreed to come around to my house to work on the project after school. We had almost finished when my dad came home from work. He looked at Pete and said "that's a smart haircut Peter, you need to take this scruff next time you go to the barbers. I wanted him to get it cut short, but his mother said all the boys have longer hair now. We'll it doesn’t look like it. Do other boys in your class have long hair Peter?" "Some do sir", Pete replied. "I did until the holidays, when my dad decided me and my brother needed short-back-and-sides after he'd been into the school before we broke up for the holidays. All of the boys in our science group have short hair", he continued. Too much information I screamed in my head! "Do they indeed", was Dad's only comment.

Th next three weeks flashed by and we presented our project back to the class. Although we didn't win (one group had built a microphone) we all had our group photograph taken. The boys in long trousers knelt in front of the project, with the six of us in short trousers standing in two groups of three on either side of the table that held the volcano. I was stood between Bill, with his crewcut and Albert with his short back and sides. Pete was stood to the other side of the table, between Joes' short-back-and-sides and Simon's crewcut.

Th last day of school before the holidays arrived and we were given the group photographs to take home. I dreaded my dad seeing it as he would certainly comment that I was the only boy with long hair. I was showing my mum the photograph when dad returned home from work. "What's this then?" he asked. I explained the photograph, and unsurprisingly he said, "Why are you the only scruff in the group?" Turning to my mum he asked, "You said all the boys have long hair and that is clearly not the case." Glaring at me he said, "I've had enough of this, you're coming with me to the barbers."

With that he marched me up the road to the barbers. The barber was about to close the shop when we arrived, but made an exception for my dad, who was one of his regulars. "Now then Norman," he greeted my Dad. "Not time for your haircut is it?" "No Stan, it's my lad. He needs a bloody good haircut". "I can see that, but no fancy hairstyle here." "That's fine he needs one of your specials." Taking the photograph out of his pocket he pointed to one of the boys. "Give him a haircut like this". "That's Bill Wiseman, him and his dad are regulars here. Arthur Wiseman comes in every two-weeks for his short-back-and-sides, bringing Bill with him for his back to school haircut. All off, down to the wood, is the instruction." "Well then, same for this scruff, all off " down to the wood." I took my seat in the chair with dread, and after caping me up Stan switched on the clippers. With no guard attached, he started at my forehead and removed the hair across the top, swipe after swipe the hair ran down on to the cape. He then moved to the side and ran the clippers up there until the hair had been removed. He continued this process up the back and the other side. Finally, he adjusted the clippers and repeated the whole process across my head, until all my hair was stubble. "How's that Norman. Short enough, or do you want me to take it down any further". "Let's go for it Stan, take it down". Stan picked up another pair of clippers, which had a higher pitch than the previous clippers and ran them down the centre of my head. I could see in the mirror that he had created a path all the way down the centre of my head that had removed the stubble. On and on he went, with stubble flying off as he shaved. It was going to be even shorter than Bill's and I started to cry. "What's the matter with you, baby?" asked Stan. "Oh, he's such a little girl about his hair. Shave it all of Stan, completely bald, give him something to cry about." With that Stan switched on a lather machine and covered my head with the white foam. Then with a cut-throat razor he scraped away what was left of my hair. He then lathered my head again and shaved in the opposite direction. With a warm damp towel, he wiped away any remaining foam. Stan then rubbed some lotion in his hands and spread it all over my head. "That's a great Job Stan, vast improvement. No more girlie haircuts for this lad. Better get used to it son."

He wasn’t wrong, as every Sunday before bath-time my dad shaved my head completely bald. This continued throughout the summer holidays, so that when I started school I didn’t have a haircut like Bill, instead I was shaved smooth, just like Ian in my science group.




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