Life for a teenager in 1970s by Snipped Sam
Having read in the local newspaper of the imminent closure of Victor’s, the barbers, I remembered back to three years before when I went there for a haircut but had chickened out..He was now selling a number of interesting items, including a number of shaving mugs. As my Uncle Charles collected shaving mugs and Christmas was coming I decided to go and see what was on offer.
It was mostly antiquities like shaving mugs, hand operated clippers, old posters for Brylcreme and other gents preparations.
I selected a shaving Mugs for Uncle Charles, the barber had just finished cutting an elderly chaps hair, and out of politeness I waited. for him to leave.
“The shaving Mug then young man”
“Yes, it’s a present for my Uncle”
“A good choice if I may say so”
“Yes, I think he will really like it”
“You look very familiar young Man”
“Do I “
“But I don’t think I have cut your hair for you have I “
“Well to be honest, I did come here about three years ago, sat over there, then chickened out of having my hair cut”
“That’s not unusual for a lad of that age; I think if I remember right you asked if you could come back the next day”
“Yes, I was really scared that you would cut it really short..I had already seen you cut two boys hair very short and you used the clippers on them”
“And that’s not the haircut you wanted”
“No I only wanted a trim”
“You didn’t think of asking if you could have a trim.”
“Well no, I just thought you would say I had to have it short”
“I have always been known for being a short back and side’s man, so that’s most likely what you would have had”
“So I went somewhere else and had my usual trim”
“pity really you can’t beat a nice short back and sides, but times have changed from when I first started over 40 years ago and I will be retiring soon..The haircuts I give are now less and less popular”
“If I am honest with you, there are times when I have thought about the time I came here, and part of me has thought that it was a shame I didn’t stay to have my hair cut “
“If you had, you might have got to like my haircuts and become a regular customer here”
“I think if I had been given a short haircut by you that day, I would have probably have had to go back to having short haircuts and been sent here”
“How old are you now young man?”
“Just turned 17”
“Still at School?”
“No, I go to College”
“I see, quite grown up then”
“I guess so”
“So, young man is it just the shaving mug, which is a present for your Uncle you said”
“I don’t suppose there is any chance of you giving my hair a trim?”
“No young man, you may be 17 but I would still have to say short back and sides”
“Uncle Charles doesn’t like my hair this length, so it looks like he’s getting not just getting the shaving mug for his present”
“Do I take it then that this time you will be leaving here with your hair cut?”
I nodded, I was thinking this is madness and also thinking I so want this done, I was really hoping he would get things moving pretty quickly, because with a delay I might just change my mind Fortunately, I think he was keen to get started perhaps also of the opinion that a delay could result in me chickening out again. “if you would like to hang your jacket on the peg, and when you are ready come and join me over here “as he stood by the barbers my heart was beating really fast, and I felt a bit sick in my stomach, as I hung my jacket on the peg, when I walked towards the barber’s chair he smiled and gave me an encouraging nod, As I sat in the chair he removed the navy blue nylon cape which was neatly folded on the back of the chair, he very smoothly placed it into position and tucked it snugly at the back with a white tissue. Using both hands he gently smoothed the cape on my shoulders, so it sat perfectly, he then took his comb from the top pocket of his navy blue barbers jacket and combed my hair.
“When did you last have this cut lad?, he asked
“About a month ago”
“Due to be tidied up about now anyway I would say, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, I was defiantly getting it cut this week”
He now had hold of a pair of scissors and started to cut my hair the back, there was something very calming about the way he snipped my hair ,as he cut it he was making sure that it dropped to the floor behind me, the first real indication that this was a short haircut was after quite a few minutes in when he cut the hair which was over my collar, feeling the scissors cutting the hair up to my hairline was a bit scary ,but he had his hand on my head to hold me in position and keep my head steady. After that off came the hair which covered my ears, some of the hair sat on my right shoulder but after a brush down, the cape soon had a pile of my chestnut brown hair resting on it, he carried on cutting my hair at the front and after that he took his thinning shears to my hair. I had never liked having thinning shears used on my hair, and he certainly was going to town. I realised that when he started my haircut he had gone gently to keep me calm and to make sure I stayed in the chair, but now there was no going back .His manner with me was still really friendly, but saying that I had really been on best behaviour in the chair keeping my head still and showing him respect when I spoke to him, which was only to reply to what he said to me. I had read in the Newspaper that his name was Victor Carter so I was calling him Mr Carter occasionally.
Whilst I was pleased to have had my hair as long as I had done for the last few years, I did honestly think that he really was such a nice man and part of me regretted that he had not been my regular barber, even if it would have meant compulsory short back and sides’ haircuts’.
Once he had put down the thinning shears and brushed my face and neck down of loose hairs, he then powder dusted the back of my head and above my ears. He then placed another piece of tissue at the back of my collar and then adjusted the cape at the back.
“The next part of your haircut is not always strictly necessary in view of your age but because you did not have it done when you came here the last time, I have to insist that it happens today, do you know what I am talking about?”
“The clippers Mr Carter”
“I had thought you might try to persuade me not to use them “he said as he reached over and took them from their hook
“No Mr. Carter”
“Not, that it would have made any difference “
“You know best, Sir”
“I certainly do, and now you must bend your head right down for me”
“Right now Mr Carter?
I did as he said,
“If you can get your head down a little bit further..That will be fine”
The clippers touched the back of my head at the hairline and he moved them away and turned them on and placed them back where they had been, they started their journey up the back of my head. He was clipping away, when the door opened, oh no I thought this could be so embarrassing.
“Ah, here is Mrs Hayhoe with my cup of tea,”
To my horror she stood fairly close by the barber’s chair talking to him whilst he carried on clipping me. She was telling him, about a show she was going to see, which he seemed really enthusiastic about
“Oh well Victor, I must be going mustn’t hold you up, don’t let your tea go cold”
“O.k. thanks for the tea Mary”
“Oh did you get the door fixed?”
“Yes I did thanks; Joe came over and did it for me” they then carried on chatting a bit longer, I was getting very alarmed because he was moving the clippers repeatedly at the lower part of the back of my head where he had done first of all when he started my clipping before doing above and round my ears..I really wanted to say something like steady on sir but knew better than that...At last Mrs Hayhoe, and he hung the clippers back on their hook, he then drank some of his tea, and then brushed me down, He still had me bending my head , and whilst he drank a bit more of his tea he was surveying his work on the back of my head.
“You can lift your head up now lad “
When I did I was trying to look at the sides above my ears in the mirror, but he came and stood in front of me to apply some hair cream to dress my hair, he then combed a very severe parting into place. ,
He stood back and ran his finger up the back of my head
“I have to admit young man that with Mrs Hayhoe keeping me talking, I have clipped rather more than I intended”
“I thought you were spending a lot of time on the back Mr Carter”
He picked up the mirror and showed me the back, it looked so bare, he had actually stripped away so much hair above my hairline and it was so much bare skin. It looked really red as well
“What do you think young man?”
“Certainly is short sir, I think I can safely say this is the shortest haircut I have ever seen on anyone”
Well young man if you like it, Once I have retired I can always arrange for Mr Watson over in Southdown to give you this haircut on a regular basis, but I will be here for a few weeks yet
“I think I need to get used to this haircut first sir”
“I don’t know your name lad?”
He then removed the cape and I came of the chair, I paid him for the shaving mug and my haircut
“And don’t leave it too long before your next haircut Anderson”
“Very good Sir”
I replied, as I left the barbers with trepidation, as I was to face the world with my New Super short haircut.