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Keeping dad happy by Snipped Sam
During the early 1970s, the subject of the length of hair was a common battle ground between many a father and his teenage son, it was no different for me. My father thought that I should have a short haircut, and it had been a long uphill struggle for me with dad to finally be able to grow my hair a bit longer, so that it was just over my collar at the back and covered my ears, I was fourteen and the year is 1972.Even with this there were still certain rules, when dad said I needed to get my hair cut I did and I could only go where dad said.
I always went to Terry’s; which dad went to as well. Terry the owner usually always cut my hair, things began to change when on one occasion he was not there and Stan the other hairdresser who worked for him cut my hair. I had asked him to give me a trim, but during my haircut, he had raided the hair that covered my ears by about an inch and a half, and cut my hair at the back shorter so it was no longer near the collar. I wished I hadn’t stayed there to have my haircut, I had never liked Stan cutting it, and it had not helped me as I always asked for Terry to cut my hair. I was really angry with what he had done, and had a go at him about it, saying it looked awful.
Dad got to hear about it on his next visit and I got it in the neck about it and was told the next time I went, to apologise to him. The next time I went I was really dreading it, dad had brought my due haircut forward and the hair had not grown back over my ears. As I walked in they both looked up at me, Terry smiled and gave me a wink, Stan said hello, and I apologised to him. Then I sat down and waited my turn. I hoped that Terry would finish first as I was next, luckily as I thought at the time he did, and I was soon sitting in his chair. He prepared me with the light blue nylon cape and tissue tucked into the collar at the back. After combing my hair, he lit a cigarette and started smoking it.
"You realise Simon that I cannot have you being rude to Stan, the ends of your hair were dry and that’s why it needed more cutting. He was right to do what he did; your dad didn’t want you to have your ears covered but we have helped you to grow your hair"
"I know, I am really sorry"
"I am taking a good inch off all over, but if you forget yourself again I’ll give you a short back and sides, is that understood?"
By the time he had finished my hair was about the same length as the haircut I had from Stan, I had always liked Terry, but after this I really resented him. Dad began giving me less time between haircuts than before, and I really hated the situation. There was an evening event to do with a charity that dad was involved in, and I went with him, we were taking to one of his friends and his son James. James who turned out to be the same age as me but went to had a different school, had his hair incredibly short.
"I have to say what an excellent haircut James has Ralph"
"Thanks Brian, I think myself rather fortunate to have found this barber actually, we agreed the length that James would have his hair and he comes back with the same haircut every time"
"I’m afraid with Simon, it’s a battle ground, he goes to Terrys’ on Regent road but lately he has locked horns with them which doesn’t help"
"James has a brother who is a few years older and it was always a battle with him, argument after argument. Since I found Mr Turner on Mill Road it’s a piece of cake, he’s an older chap with a no-nonsense approach"
"Well I have been thinking that I need to make a few changes with my arrangements for Simon’s hair, this sounds like the man"
Fortunately, the subject was changed, but I knew it would not go away. A few days later dad came home from the office and his hair was shorter than he usually had it cut, I guessed he had been to check out the new place. It was the half term holidays and I knew that any day he would be sending me for a haircut, once the television programme we were watching finished he turned the television off to speak to me.
"So young Simon, tomorrow you need to set aside time to have your haircut"
"If I have to"
"The trouble is you have not been getting on well with the chaps at Terry’s particularly Stan and also I want your hair to be cut shorter from now on. That’s why from now on you will be going to Mr Turner, I have already been to see him and he will be taking care of both our haircuts from now on"
I knew by dads tone he meant business and it wasn’t negotiable.
"Do I have to go there?"
"You do Son, I will have my way on this, I can take you but I am sure that you would rather go on your own"
"I would dad"
"He is going to cut your hair shorter, and it would be in your best interests if you cooperate and be on your best behaviour, I will be dropping off my electric shaver for him to service after work so I will get a report"
"I want to hear good things about you is that understood Simon"
"But if I do hear anything bad I will slipper you, just remember that"
The next day in the afternoon I made my way to Mill road to find Mr Turners, although I didn’t really know Mill road, it was easy to find. The long red and white pole outside was the first major clue, he was standing outside the shop, oh no I thought he is older than I thought. He was wearing a long white barbers coat, very smartly dressed with a shirt and tie, he was acknowledging people as they walked past. I am almost there, I want to keep walking but I know this has to happen, I stop where he is I am feeling sick.
"Hello young man, have you come to see me for a haircut?"
"Yes, my dad sent me, he was here yesterday"
"I remember, Simon isn’t it?"
"As you were walking along I thought to myself this young man could do with a haircut, follow me"
We went into the barbers’ shop which was very old fashioned, lots of dark wood, he pointed to the chair and I sat down, he then installed the white nylon cape and tucked it in tightly. He then started using his foot to pump the chair to raise it up, he took it up really high but he was very tall so I guess he needed me to be that height. He then started combing my hair
"So, your father has put his foot down about your hair"
"Yes, I know I am having it short"
"That’s a good start then, I like you to keep your head as still as possible for me and do as I tell you"
"I understand Mr Turner"
I could see that I really did need to get this right after the Stan and Terry problems, he selected long steel scissors and started to cut my hair.
"So, I cut your father’s hair yesterday Simon, yours today"
"Yes, dad’s hair was shorter than he usually has it, I think he really liked how you cut it"
"I hope so Simon, I just need to get your hair right now"
"Yes, Mr Turner"
"He has given me a free hand with how I cut your hair so I get to decide the finished result, he did say it doesn’t have to be really short"
"Did he, I think he will just be happy that my ears are showing and its above my collar"
"Maybe he would Simon, but I’m afraid you are not getting off that lightly"
He carried on cutting my hair, a large pile of my fair hair now rested on the cape. A man came into the shop in the mirror I could see him standing by the counter by the door.
"This gentleman has come to collect his shaver from me which I have repaired, I won’t be too long Simon"
He went over and chatted to the man about his shaver and then plugged it in so he could see how it was working, I sat there quietly really wanting to check out my hair but knew better. After a couple of minutes conversation, he paid Mr Turner then left, who walked back over to me.
"How are you doing Simon?"
"Alright I think Mr Turner"
He picked up a couple of brushes with long handles and started to brush my hair all over, using them both one in each hand, after that he then adjusted the cape at the back and placed a smallish white cotton towel at the back tucked into the gown and resting on my shoulders.
"How does that feel Simon, not too tight?"
"Its fine thanks Mr Turner"
"That should help stop all those little hairs from getting down your back"
"Yes, Mr Turner"
He unplugged the clippers beside the chair and then plugged in a different pair, these were brown Bakelite clippers they looked to have a fearsome blade on the end.
"No need to look so worried Simon, it’s not going to hurt"
Remembering the very short haircuts I was given when I was at my junior school, I knew exactly what he was going to do by his remark about all those little hairs. I wanted to remind him that dad had said it doesn’t need to be really short, but of course he had a free had anyway. Anything I did say would be classed as anarchy and would be reported to dad, and although these days I rarely got it, I hated being on the receiving end of dad’s burgundy leather slipper. Be brave I thought, nothing you can do to stop him.
"Yes, Mr Turner"
"Good lad, now I need you to bend your head right down for me"
I bent my head down
"That’s good Simon, just a touch further for me …. that’s good and now just a bit more…good lad Simon, now keep your head very still for me"
He switched on the clippers which had a strange shrill, the cold metal touched the back of my head, and he started to move them up the back of my head, it was a very smooth procedure although I was very concerned how high he took the clippers. I could feel the hair falling onto my neck, after attending to the back of my head he tilted my head to work above my ear.
"Lift your head up Simon"
When I lifted my head, he wasted no time in dusting the hairs away with the soft brush and quite a bit of talcum powder.
"That wasn’t too bad was it Simon?"
"No, Mr Turner didn’t hurt a bit"
"Just like I said, so I am just going to put on a different blade on the clippers, because I have more work to do before you are finished"
Oh no, I thought as I watched him change over the blade, he looked at me and smiled
"We’ll have your head right down again Simon if you please"
It was not that comfortable having to bend my head so far forward.
"That’s very good Simon, but I think you can manage just a bit further…that’s more like it"
He switched on the clippers and this time he pressed them harder although he was not taking them anywhere near as high as before, he then returned to above my ears, before they were put back. He then sharpened a razor on the leather strop which was just to the side of the chair, then with one hand steadying my head, he scraped away on my neck and then worked at where my hairline was. Once this was completed he lifted my head slightly and shaved close to my ears, then there was a good dusting with powder and vigorous brushing down.
"You can lift your head right up now Simon"
As I looked back in the mirror it looked completely bare above my ears, he picked up a comb and a shorter pair of scissors
"Nearly done, just a few snips"
He snipped away blending in the nonclipped hair so it sat neatly, the door opened, in the mirror I could see dad standing there.
"Good afternoon Sir"
"Good afternoon, I had to visit a customer close by so I thought I drop off my electric shaver"
"Jolly good Sir"
"Don’t let me interrupt you in your work, I will take a seat and wait"
Mr Turner carried on cutting my hair, the when he finished he used the two long handled brushes on my hair, it was a very swift and smooth operation. He then used one brush to part my hair, he then picked up a can of hairspray and told me to close my eyes, he then sprayed my hair. Removing the white cotton towel, he then removed the gown and then dropped the chair back down. I stepped of the chair wiping my neck with the tissue he had handed me.
"That’s one excellent haircut you have son"
"Yes dad, I thought you would really like it"
"Simon has been a really good lad, its been a pleasure to cut his hair"
"I am pleased to hear that Mr Turner, I must admit to having a few concerns"
"No, he has sat to attention, when I had him bend his head he did it well, although I did push him to get his head down further"
"Well I am very happy"
"That’s the most important thing sir and if I were you give him a few days and just take a razor to his neck and above his ears, it will keep it neat and tidy"
"Thanks for the tip, I’ll do that but it won’t be long before Simon is back to see you again"
"Well if you are planning for him to have very regular haircuts we can come to a special arrangement on the price"
"Sounds like a plan"