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The only option by Snipped Sam

Looking back to my mid-teens I was a gentle and quite timid boy, not an achiever in exams or with my school work which is why my parents had engaged Mrs Batchelor a few months before. She was a retired headmistress who tutored me after school and in the school holidays, she was a fearsome woman who terrified me and when my work did not reach the required standard she used a yard stick on me or as any younger reader would understand a metre ruler.
We had just finished an early morning tutorial and it was 10.30 a.m. Mrs Batchelor was looking at me very closely.

"Do you have plans made for this morning Peter?"

"No Mrs Batchelor, I was meeting my friend David, but he has to visit his gran so he can’t make it"

"It’s just, I have noticed that your hair needs cutting, I will phone the hairdressers and see if they can fit you in"

"But Mrs Batchelor..."

Before I could finish my sentence, she had gone to her telephone table in the hall, got the number from the book and was calling her hairdressers.

"Hello this is Mrs Batchelor… yes I have an eleven o’clock appointment, what it is I have a young man with me and are just wondering if I could bring him with me… yes to have his hair cut….no that’s fine whoever is available, see you later"

She came back into the dining room looking very pleased

"All sorted Peter, may be a bit of a wait for you but you’re getting fitted in"

We were to walk there, I was very subdued on the way,

"You aren’t embarrassed about coming with me to have your hair cut Peter, are you?"

"I suppose I am a bit"
"You know it needs cutting before school next week Peter, I am having my hair permed so you may see me with lots of rollers in my hair, and someone will be cutting your hair, nothing to feel awkward about"

"No Mrs Batchelor"

We arrived at a ladies hairdressers called Madam Vivien, oh no I thought as we went in, they made a great fuss of her and she was helped into a pink lady’s haircut smock and taken through to the main salon, I was to sit down and wait. After what seemed forever a very young girl came and told me that they were ready for me. As I followed her, I took a look at my lovely thick fair in the mirror, I tried to tell myself that it wouldn’t be too bad.

"Hello Peter"

I saw an old woman standing there wearing an overall, she told the girl I was to sit on the swivel stool, and to get me ready. The girl did as she said, it was a different sort of protective gown that had been used at the men’s hairdressers and I had to put my arms through it. Then the old woman started to comb my hair, she probably wasn’t that old but had very short white curly hair and wore quite ornate spectacles. She said she wouldn’t be a minute, left me and then came back

"I have just spoken to Mrs Batchelor about your hair, so I know what’s to be done, you don’t have to worry about a thing, I will just turn you away from the mirror, as I find boys tend to get distracted"

Once she had turned me from the mirror, I caught sight of Mrs Batchelor, although a few feet away, it looked like she had hundreds of rollers in her hair. The old woman began cutting my hair at the back of my head.

"You have such a lot of hair for a boy, didn’t you want it short for the summer"

"I sort of liked it this length Miss"

I don’t know why I called her miss but she was kind of strict like a teacher.

"Your hair would roll around one our large rollers, good job you got me otherwise you might be on your way to sit under the hairdryer with a shampoo and set, but perhaps you would like that"

"No Miss"

I replied meekly, realising that she was cutting my hair very close to my head

"It’s just a lot of boys my age grow their hair a bit longer hair than it was years ago"

"Well, it’s a good job I’m taking most of your hair off"

"I don’t know about that Miss"

"I wasn’t asking you boy, I was telling you"

After several minutes at work with the scissors, she then took a comb with a razor blade in it something which was mostly used in the home but also was to be found in hairdressers and started to use it on my hair. As she was using it on the front of my hair she was shaking off clumps of my lovely fair hair, it was a horrible sensation and sounded like a tearing sound. After that she took a short pair of scissors and snipped my fringe very short, not that I could see but I knew by where she had the scissors.

"That’s looking a lot more respectable young Peter"

She left me for a few moments and returned with a mean looking smile on her face and electric clippers in her hand which to my horror she plugged into the mains beside the chair. She can’t be I thought in complete terror, maybe she just wants to tidy off a few loose hairs, please let it be that.

"Right young Peter, I am about to pop your head right down, I expect you have had the back and sides clipper shaved before at the barbers"

"Yes Miss, but when I was younger, I am a bit old for that now"

"Who says so Peter?"

"Me Miss"

"Are you the one holding the clippers or the one having his haircut Peter?"

"Having his haircut Miss"

"You would do well to remember that with what I am going to do"

"Yes Miss

She placed her hand on the top of my head and pushed it right down, she switched on the clippers and then started to run them up the back of my head, taking them up really high, she then worked above and around my ears tilting my head as required. To my horror I heard a woman say she’d like to get her son here for a haircut like mine and then another woman said that she had taken her grandson to the barbers and it was nowhere as short as what the old woman had just cut mine, of course she didn’t call her the old woman. She replied that it was all about knowing what needed to be done and a very firm no-nonsense approach.
When she had finished and brushed me down she spun me around to face the mirror, it looked like all my hair had gone. I then had to follow her through the salon back to the waiting area to wait for Mrs Batchelor, all the women in the salon glanced as I walked past. Mrs Batchelor eventually appeared having had a really tight perm which made her look really scary. She remarked what an enormous improvement it was, we left and started to walk back.

"No shaggy looking hair now Peter, and ready for school next week"

"No Miss, I mean Mrs Batchelor"

"I don’t suppose you are used to having a lady cut your hair Peter, but she has cut it as short as any good barber would and just as well"

"Yes Mrs Batchelor"

"We will have to keep your hair short from now on Peter"

Mrs Batchelor had made her decision, and received the full backing of my parents, after that I knew that longer hair was a not going to happen again, and not wanting to have another haircut from the old woman, I immediately searched for a suitable place to have my future haircuts. I found an ex-army barber, a man who looked every inch someone who had been in the army barber. In his late forties with cropped grey hair, it was just under three weeks since the old woman had cut my hair when I first reported there which was the start of visits every three weeks without out fail on a Monday. When I first started going it seemed each haircut was shorter than the one before. But I have to say it was such a good system he had, when it was my turn he would click his fingers, I would step in the chair, quickly caped, short blade on the clippers and off he would go, then a small amount of cutting and I was done. Conversation was minimal, it was basically hello from us both when I walked in and then a thankyou from me after he had finished, he would say the amount to pay which was always "that’s thirty-five pence". Once I had paid he would turn his attention to the next customer or sit down to read the paper if there wasn’t anyone. I would leave quietly, the only time he discussed my hair was the first couple of times, the first time he said short back and sides and the next time he said same as the last haircut. For a boy who had no option but to have his hair cut very short this was the best place for me to go.

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