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Callum visits the 1970s by Snipped Sam
I feel that I really must share a recent haircut adventure which took place with my seventeen year old nephew. Callum is a very well mannered, reasonably mature young man, my younger sister and brother in law have always tried to give him the best of everything including expensive designer clothes and his hair has always been cut in upmarket, trendy unisex establishments.
I am fifty five, and had my teenage years in the 1970s when longer hair was extremely fashionable. However I was not permitted to have longer hair and was like a small number of boys in my school, sent to the barbers on a regular basis where I would be given a stern short back and sides. I did not like it but eventually learnt that it was not negotiable. When I left school I had a rebellious stage and grew my hair very long for a few years, then of course in the late 1980s shorter hair came back into fashion with a vengeance, but of course it was a much more modern version of the short back and sides which I had at School. Since then I have continued to have my hair shorter, and much prefer to go to a traditional barber, and ideally have an older gentleman cut my hair.
On a recent visit to my sisters, Callum was proudly telling me about his new part time job he was about to start in an ironmongers, which was on Saturdays and one afternoon in the week and also during college holidays. He was also rather chuffed that having been told that he must maintain a very smart appearance and wear a tie, that he was going to have his first visit to a barbers. This transpired to be a newly opened establishment in town, which I had seen, the only thing in my opinion that made it barbers was the fact it only cut men's hair and the red a white pole outside. A selection of very fashionable young men giving all sorts of designer cuts did not make it barbers.
Callum seemed curious when I dismissed this notion that it was a barbers and wanted to know more. I explained that when I was around his age, a barber usually always wore a shirt and tie and some form of barbers jacket or short coat, with a top pocket where he would keep a comb and sometimes a pair of scissors. Things were a lot more formal and some barbers were extremely strict and expected respect, and I explained that I always had to do as my barber told me. The inside of traditional barbers was usually quite old fashioned with hard wooden chairs which you sat on to wait your turn and nothing like the shop he planned to go to. We chatted a bit more on the subject and he went and got some of my sister's old photographs which showed me with very short hair in my mid teens. We joked about a couple of them, especially one where my hair had been cut severely short for a family wedding. Not long after that my sister announced that supper was ready and we enjoyed a family meal without further reference to haircuts.
The next day I had a telephone call from Callum, who wanted to borrow a DVD; he said he would call round later for it. We talked about all sorts of things but I could tell something was on his mind; he then broached the haircut subject again. I had told him that I sometimes went to a traditional barber who was quite elderly and he wanted to know where it was .I explained to him that Mr Pearson was now semi retired and only opened a few hours three days a week. Mr Pearson was in his early seventies but enjoyed talking to his customers and of course cutting hair. I felt certain he would be happy to cut Callum's hair, which was currently moderately long with the back just above the collar, I had never known his thick chestnut brown hair to be cut short and even layered. The question was is what Callum is looking for? But the answer came shortly after when he asked me when he was open. I suggested I give him a call, which I did and this included the next morning. I advised Callum to think very carefully about taking this step, he told me that he really wanted to go through with it, so I went to write down the address, to which my nephew asked his uncle to take him. As I work from home my time was very flexible so this would not be an issue. When he left I reminded him that the outcome would be likely to be a short back and sides for him, so to think it over very carefully .The next morning around 10.00a.m young Callum arrived, he was smartly dressed, I told him to wait in the car and would be with him shortly. I rang Mr Pearson and explained the situation regarding Callum's wish to have a traditional barber cut his hair and filled him in with background information regarding his interest in my own experiences as a teenager.
During the drive in the car he was very quiet, we parked and walked to Mr Pearson's shop, not too late I said to him, he smiled a put his hand on the door knob and we entered the barbers. Mr Pearson had an elderly gentleman in the chair, he greeted me warmly and said hello to Callum, we sat down on the waiting chairs, I made sure Callum was sat on a seat well inside the shop away from the door, he was looking all around. I was pleased to note that Mr Pearson was wearing his navy blue barbers jacket with a comb in the tip pocket. Fortunately it wasn't too long befog he had finished the customer off and he had left.
”who's next?” Mr Pearson asked in a formal tone, Callum stood up and made his way to the barber's chair ,he sat down and Mr Pearson told him to sit right back in the chair, he was already holding the white nylon cape which was quickly installed and snugly tucked in. He combed Callum's hair and remarked to Callum that he certainly was ready for a haircut. He told him that he always cuts my hair short, and that I always left the haircut up to him. He remarked that it was a very agreeable arrangement and I had the benefit of his many years experience as a barber. At that point I readily agreed with this and remarked that this was one of the reasons for bringing Callum to have his hair cut by Mr Pearson. I then filled in the background regarding Callum going to expensive salons and never having gone to a proper barber in his seventeen years. Mr Pearson told him that when both his sons were seventeen he still gave them good short back and sides haircuts on a regular basis.
"Short back and sides and no arguments "he said with pride, they didn't always like it but they thank me for it now. He reached over to the shelf next to the chair where Callum was sitting and picked up a pair of long steel scissors.
"About time you had a good short back and side's too young man, and that's just what I am going to give you”
"That's what I am here for sir”
"I am pleased that's understood, remember to keep your head still and follow my instructions and this haircut will go smoothly”
He started to cut Callum's, I told Callum, that unlike short haircuts you would have nowadays when the clippers are used first followed by the cutting with scissors, Mr Pearson cut first and clipped at the end of the haircut. I could tell Callum was quite nervous, but he sat to attention and kept his head still for his barber. His hair was coming off with a vengeance, off course I had never had so much hair cut off during a haircut as my hair had always been kept short. Mr Pearson seemed to be enjoying giving Callum his haircut and being in charge. When I remarked that had I known that I was coming to see him today with Callum I would not have had my haircut only last week when I was away on business, he replied that he would probably be cutting mine too, and that he was not happy with the length of my sideburns and the back needed attention. That confirmed by observation that Mr Pearson had defiantly gone into strict barber mode or even Sergeant Major mode. The way he spoke to Callum was getting very stern but he seemed to be coping, he was also calling Mr. Pearson sir, which was spurring Mr Pearson on further. The cutting was followed by some extensive thinning out of Callum's hair with the thinning shears. After a good brush down, he made a little adjustment to cape at the back, and then lightly dusted the back of Callum's head with some powder.
"Right, young men, you need to bend your head right down” Callum did as he said
"I said right down ....that's more like it, now concentrate on keeping you head still and do not worry about what I am doing "
He selected a pair of clippers and then started to clip the back of Callum's head, the hair just fell away, he then took care of the hair at the sides, he then used a razor to clean up the back. He had taken the hair at the back at least half an inch above Callum's hairline. It was defiantly a very old fashioned short haircut compared with a similar short haircut Callum could have had in a trendy barbers. When he showed him the back in the mirror, Callum politely thanked him. As he removed the cape from Callum, he looked over to me
"I think we will have you in the chair”
As I sat in the Chair, Callum with busy wiping the loose hairs from his neck with the tissue he had been given and checking out what it felt like to have been clipped. I too had a really good clipping back and sides. Callum and I left there and returned from our time travel back to the second decade of the twenty first century.
"I think you can find the barbers, next time Callum”
"Someone hopefully a bit stricter next time too Uncle Sam, he was far too easy going”
We both cracked up with laughter.
The end .