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Chris bites the bullet !! by Snipped Sam
It was in the mid-1980s that shorter hair began to become more popular again, I was seventeen and keen to have a really short haircut. My usual hairdresser Keith never seemed keen and I always left his chair feeling disappointed at not leaving more hair behind. He always used to say "no you don’t want to go too short, we can’t put it back". Growing up, it seemed my parents never had any inclination to have my hair cut short at any point either.
I had a week’s holiday due from work and could not afford to go away far so I went to stay with some relatives in Yorkshire, my Aunt and Uncle to be precise. I decided to explore various towns whilst I was up there, whilst there I visited a fairly largish town, when I saw a man probably in his early thirties coming out of a barber’s shop with his hair cut severely short. I thought it looked fantastic, this was much more the sort of haircut I was wanting.
I went and had a coffee but I had getting a haircut on my mind, and decided to bite the bullet and go back to the barber’s I had seen. There was no way of seeing inside as there seemed to be an entrance with a corridor although there was of course a sign which said gents barbers and a red and white pole. I went in the door and there was just an older woman probably in her late fifties sitting reading a newspaper, she looked up at me and said hello.
"I was looking for the barber" I said nervously and I was not at all keen on the idea of a woman cutting my hair.
"I am the barber, young man"
She said standing up and I immediately saw that she was a very robust looking woman, I quickly noticed that she was wearing a navy blue overall and very sensible lace up shoes. Not only was she robust in her stature she seemed quite stern, she had short dark curly hair and wore quite old-fashioned spectacles, I also noticed that she was wearing rather thick stockings.
"I take it you have come to have your haircut"
"I was thinking about having my hair cut quite a bit shorter"
"Not a problem" and she stepped towards the barber’s chair and removed the navy-blue nylon cape that was folded on the back and she gestured with her hand for me to sit down, which I did. It was an old-fashioned chair partly made of leather and party dark wood, it was very comfortable, there was a foot rest in front of the chair and I put my feet on it.
"If you could fasten the top button of your shirt young man please"
Rather nervously I did up the top button of my shirt
"Could you sit right back in the chair please"
I sat back in the chair and took my feet from the foot rest, first she placed a white cotton napkin type of towel on my shoulders, tucking it into the back of my collar then with a flick of the cape it landed and was quickly positioned and snugly fastened at the back.
"How short would you like me to cut your hair lad?"
"Umm, well definitely shorter"
"Shall we say more than an inch off all over and even more than that where needed"
"That’s quite a bit more than the chap who always cuts my hair takes off, but as I say I am looking to having it shorter so that sounds good to me"
"As I said I may cut it shorter than that in some areas, if I think it needs it and I think it would be better to make it short at the back, so I would like to take it up higher at the back. That will make it look really neat and tidy"
Whilst I had not wanted a woman to cut my hair, this lady seemed to have a plan which I found really rather exciting. Firstly, she had wasted no time in getting me into the chair, and exercised a little control by telling me to do up my top button and about sitting back in the chair.
"Well that is along the lines of what I was looking for"
"I will make a start on you then, and at any point if you think you would like it a bit shorter, just speak up"
She selected the scissors and started to cut my fair hair,
"I think you were a bit surprised to find the barber was a lady, weren’t you lad"
"Just a bit"
"I am Miss Dixon, by the way"
"I am Chris, Miss Dixon"
"Short for Christopher?"
"Yes, that’s right"
"After I originally trained as a hairdresser, I became a lady’s hairdresser, and this was my father’s shop, and then I used to go with him to help cut the hair of the naughty boys at the borstal nearby. Then my father died suddenly a few years ago and I took over, but of course I had helped out on and off over the years in here. If I hadn’t taken over the shop would have probably closed"
"That would have been a shame"
"Well I wouldn’t be cutting your hair now Christopher, would I?"
"No i suppose not, I bet they were short haircuts you gave at the borstal"
"Tuppenny all offs we called them…not much left at all when we’d finished…but we had our instructions what had to be done"
A few minutes further down the line I realised that I too had quite a lot less hair than when I came in and Miss Dixon certainly was afraid to cut off large pieces of hair in one snip.
"So young man, happy with everything so far?"
"Oh yes, very happy with it, thanks Miss Dixon"
My first impression of Miss Dixon was that she was quite stern, and certainly she would be no pushover, but she was very chatty.
"Even though its short on top now it’s still a little heavy, so I need to thin it down"
Miss Dixon selected some thinning shears and then having tilted my head slightly forward she started to work away on my hair with them, working her way over the whole of my head. Once this was completed and she had lifted my head up she brushed away all the loose hairs. Then with a wet comb she combed my hair into a side parting.
"Any thoughts on what you would like done with the back of your head? as you probably know I have taken it up when I cut the back, but it still needs to be finished off"
I remembered how good I thought the hair looked on the man I saw walking out of the barbers, the back and sides had been done with the clippers.
"Earlier when I was walking past, I saw a man come out of here, he had the back and sides done very short"
"Maybe about half an hour or so before you came in"
"Yes, I know who you mean, is that why you decided to come here?"
"Yes, I thought it looked really smart"
"Thanks, that’s nice of you to say, and would you like me to do yours like that?"
"Yes, I would please"
"Then that’s what I will do Christopher"
Miss Dixon removed the clippers from the hook which was at the side of the barber’s chair, I felt excited because this was the first time I was going to be clipped.
"Believe it or not this is the first time for me"
"Better late than never lad, fortunately for you it is not my first time using them"
She lifted her left hand and placed it on the top of my head and bent my head forward, her hand remained on my head, and I heard the clippers being switched on. The sound got louder as they came close to the back of my head, I felt the metal come into contact with the back of my head. Before I had a chance to think about it, she was running them up the back of my head, I was aware that she was applying more than a little pressure behind the clippers and her spare hand kept my head steady. As she withdrew the clippers after each run up, I felt my hair fall onto my neck, tilted my head to the side she did the same above each ear. Having lifted my head up she vigorously brushed down taking away the hair that had fallen during the clipping. At this point I was dying to see the sides in the mirror as well as the back of my head as best I could. I was turning my head to the side to see her handywork, but as I was doing this Miss Dixon had picked up a shaving brush, wet it and dipped it in a pot of shaving soap. The next thing I knew she was applying shaving soap to the back of my head in the area of my hairline and then just above my ears. When she applied the shaving cream it felt very cold, then with a flat razor she shaped above my ears, and cleaned the area to level my hair so I had no sideburn, then shaved the back where my hairline was, then my neck. She then wiped the area clean with a towel. Not that I had any first-hand experience of having a short haircut but it seemed to me that she was as good as any male barber I could have chosen.
She asked already holding the pot.
"Maybe a dab please"
I watched her open the lid of the pot and remove a little more than a dab and then she applied it to my hair, as she combed the most precise side parting I considered how much darker my fair hair looked with the Brylcreem. She then held up the mirror to show me the back of my head, I saw a perfectly clipped head…well I thought it looked perfect. Also, a lot of white skin where hair had been removed and sun had never seen before. She tilted the mirror and moved it around so I could see above my ears too where there were also white gaps of skin where she had arched.
"Short enough for you Chris?"
"Thank you, Miss Dixon, it’s just how I wanted it"
"Quick tip, if you are wanting your haircut like this it’s a good idea to ask for a short back and sides in the first place"
I left Miss Dixon’s shop on cloud nine, needless to say on my return home I found a new barber and my hair remained short from then on, with me going to older more traditional barbers. I never had a woman cut my hair again but will always be thankful that Miss Dixon put me on the path of having very short hair which I have never left since.