The Butcher by Snipped Sam
Due to a family business trip to Australia, and because of my schooling I had remained in England and was staying for two months with My Uncle Cedric and his wife. We had been getting on really well, I had just turned 15 and thought I knew everything; the year was 1974.Boys my age considered short hair to be very old fashioned and out of date, I was no exception and thought I knew everything .
I had been staying with them for three weeks when Uncle Cedric told me to remain at the table after breakfast. He had a rather stern look on his face and I had a very certain feeling what it was about. Uncle Cedric had now told me last week that my hair needed cutting, and two days ago had asked me why it had not been done to which I had replied I would get it done that day, which I hadn’t done.
“So Mark we have a problem with your deliberate disobedience regarding your hair”
“But Uncle Cedric it’s now the school holidays and I don’t want to have it cut”
“Well young man you may not want to have it cut, but I consider the length it is to be unacceptable and whilst you are staying here with Your aunt and myself you must respect our wishes and do as we tell you”
“But everyone has their hair this length”
“Not everyone Mark, some of your friends perhaps but certainly not everyone and after our little excursion this morning neither will you”
“What do you mean our excursion; I will go and get my haircut. after Swimming this afternoon”
“No young Mark you had the opportunity to be a young adult and take yourself off and get your haircut when I gently reminded you about your hair and you could have gone to that fancy establishment you like to go to..What is it called... The Italian Gents hairstylists?
“Yes I go to Antonio’s “
“Well this morning it’s not going to be Antonio’s for you, I am taking you to a good old fashioned no nonsense barbers, Mr Sergeant will be cutting your hair”
“but he is known as the Butcher, Uncle Cedric”
“have you ever been to him?”
“no one goes to him “
“I do mark, and I have no complaints “
“It’s not fair”
“When you came here to stay with us Mark it was agreed that you would be well behaved and do as we said”
“Yes Uncle Cedric”
“You will remember what was also agreed if you did not behave or do as you were told what would happen”
“Yes Uncle Cedric”
“I said at the time that I did not want to have to beat you, but would if it was necessary ...we will see how you behave at the Barbers but I must warn you that I am very seriously thinking of giving you a really good slippering to bring you into line”
Less than 30 minutes later we were walking into town to the barbers shop, I was really trying not to sulk which was hard, Uncle Cedric was defiantly in a I must be obeyed mood, when we got to the barbers he put his hand on my shoulder
“Just be a good lad do as you are told, be polite and everything will be fine”
“Yes Uncle Cedric”
We went in and Mr Sergeant was cutting the hair of a very old man, no one else was waiting, Uncle Cedric pointed to one of the dark wooden chairs in the waiting area, I sat down and he beside me .He picked up a newspaper started to glance at it, he had to ask me not to fidget. Mr Sergeant was a man I would say who was in his early sixties, very smart in his appearance; he wore a long grey barbers coat with a couple of combs in the top pocket. I could see the man was being prepared to leave the barber’s chair, Uncle Cedric was also aware of this and placed the newspaper on the table, he told me that I would be next and to be ready to be called to the chair .Mr Sergeant spent his time looking after the old man in a very unhurried manner, and it was not until the man left that he turned his attention to me,
“I take it the boy is next, Cedric”
“Not so sure he hadn’t come to the wrong place instead of going to Doreen’s across the road for a shampoo and set”
“No he has defiantly come to the right place, not so sure he would agree though, but he had his chance to go and have his haircut and chose not to”
“Right young man we had better get you in the barber’s chair without delay”
I stood up and made my way to the barber’s chair where is was now standing with the white nylon cape in readiness, I was told to sit right back in the chair with my hands by my sides ,the Cape was then flicked in to position and tightly tucked in at the back. He took his time combing my thick blond hair which was well over an inch over my collar and covered my ears.
“We are in for some very hot weather Cedric, by the forecast I heard on the radio yesterday”
“Yes I heard that”
“You know I have two west highland terriers”
“Yes, fine specimens”
“After hearing that, I thought the kindest thing to do was give them a really good clipping so they stay cool, they now have lovely short fur”
“I don’t blame you; I think Mark will feel the benefit of a decent haircut too”
“I hope you will not be like one of my terriers and wriggle when I clip you, young man”
“No Mr Sergeant”
“I take it Cedric you want him to have the full works, short and thin all over and clippers sides and back, no leniency with the clippers would be recommended on this occasion”
“That’s what I had in mind and as with your terriers the kind thing to do with hot weather on the way”
“I have seen this boy around the town, but it’s the first time I have had the opportunity to cut his hair”
“Then it’s his lucky day after Antonio’s”
“The least said about Antonio the better “
Mr Sergeant had now selected scissors and was cutting my hair, they chatted away with Mr Sergeant very busily cutting off all my lovely blond hair, I now knew exactly why he was called The Butcher, his approach was rough and without ceremony and I felt my hair was being chopped off rather than cut. After several minutes of cutting, I was now ready for the clipping he announced, he then gave me a stern warning to keep my head very still. I felt his hand on the top of my head and he very firmly bent my head forward and twisting it slightly into the position he wanted it, he then made a joke to Uncle Cedric about selecting the right clippers for the job ,resting his hand on the top of my head, I heard the flick of the switch and then the loud buzz of the clippers and felt the cold metal blade touch my neck, without a moment’s hesitation Mr Sergeant was clipping me, he moved them very smoothly up the back of my head. It had been such a long time since a barber had done this to my hair. I kept thinking, If only I had had my haircut last week when Uncle Cedric had reminded me that it needed cutting. The clipping up the back of my head finished and he tilted my head to the side and clipped above my ears then the other side. After brushing off the loose hairs with my head remaining down he then took another pair of clippers and clipped some more. He then sharpened his cut throat razor on the strap and scraped away on the back of my head and round my ears. Eventually my head was lifted up, I was shocked at the drastic shortness of my hair, Mr Sergeant then applied a very small amount of oil to my hair and combed the small amount on the top into a very precise parting. He then applied loads and loads of dusting powder, making a joke that not only did I look like had come straight from the barber’s chair, I would now smell like a barbers shop.
Uncle Cedric praised the barber for an excellent job, and then to my horror asked the barber if I could stand in the corner facing the wall whilst he had his haircut .This was readily agreed to.
“Give you a chance Mark to think what a bad boy you have been”
I stood there for what seemed ages, loose hairs were making my neck itch but I had to stand still.
When we left I was made to shake Mr Sergeants’ hand and thank him again for my haircut.
“Will you be going to watch the cricket match this afternoon Cedric?”
“Yes I will be bringing Mark with me, oh of course its early closing so you will be there”
“Should be a good match”
“Yes looking forward to it, but first I have to get Mark home, there is some slippering which needs to be taken care off”
“Be sure to do it really hard, a lad of his age needs to have that disobedience and wilfulness nipped in the bud”
“We will see you later at the cricket and I will bring Mark back here to see you again very soon