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Is that a pound note on the floor ? by Snipped Sam
I had seen Mr Tomkins standing outside his barbers shop a few times, I had never had my hair cut by him, but I had been told that he was very strict. A few boys at school had been to him on a number of occasions and always complained about how short their hair had ended up. He certainly looked on the stern side, I was strangely fascinated by him, but had begun my fascination with all things to do with haircuts. Being a fourteen-year-old in the 1970s longer hair was the length to have if you could get away with it, so this was sometimes a dilemma with an interest in shorter hair .
I found myself increasingly interested in visiting his barber shop to have my haircut, a strange concept in a way as practically all the other lads of my age would not have wanted to be seen dead Ii there. But whilst it was an interest I doubted very much if I would ever actually go there, but then a friend one day dared me to go there. We had been joking about another boy’s hair…and I had led the conversation around to Mr Tomkins. The big question was would I accept the dare, Stephen seemed more than keen for me to. The next day we were walking back from the town, it was at the end of the summer holidays, Stephen had engineered it so we walked past his shop. Mr Tomkins was standing outside, looking stern as ever with navy blue barber’s jacket on.
"Look he’s not busy…you could be straight in the chair…I dare you"
Stephen teased, Mr Tomkins was not in earshot so hadn’t heard what was said, with every step we were getting closer
"Why don’t you get yours cut?"
"It’s your dare …besides I had mine cut the other day"
"Yeh I know it’s my dare…ha bloody ha"
Then we were close…Mr Tomkins looked at us, I think he knew we were looking at him, Stephen continued to tease saying snip-snip and get your haircut. Oh, golly I thought do I or don’t I? the fact was I had to have my haircut before the start of the new school year. I stopped walking as we reached his shop, Mr Tomkins looked us up and down
"Ah, looks like somebody has come for a haircut?"
"That’s right" I replied
"Both you boys is it?"
I followed him in and Stephen came in as well, I hadn’t really considered about Stephen coming in as well
"If you sit in the corner over there"
Mr Tomkins said to Stephen pointing to a long bench and then clicked his fingers for me to sit in the barber’s chair, Stephen and I sat on our respective seats, the white cape was soon installed covering me to protect me from all the hair that was going to fall from my head. I quickly turned to look round at Stephen whilst Mr Tomkins was collecting his comb and scissors.
"You need to look straight ahead and concentrate on having your haircut and you only speak to me do you understand?"
"Good, forget your friend is there…and you sit still and keep quiet or you can wait outside"
He said combing my hair
"You’re having it short"
"Yeh, a good trim up please"
"I said you’re having it short, it wasn’t a question"
"Okay then but can you leave the sides please?"
At the time of my haircut, my hair was not long at all, not covering my hairs, almost touching my collar and one and a half inch or so sideboards. My father was very conservative when it came to appearance and had no intentions of allowing me to have my hair long. Our headmaster had even more conservative ideas and any boy with his hair too long had his name recorded in a book and a letter would be sent to his parents. My father had made it very clear that I would not be in the subject of such a letter, my feelings were mixed on the subject. I looked in the mirror and saw a lad caped and ready to have his haircut, with a very stern looking barber standing behind him. He began taking snips at the back, I really did want to keep my sideboards.
"Can you leave my sideboards please?"
"I heard what you said…I’m not deaf boy"
Was his reply, and I began to think that this was a really bad idea, especially when I saw the amount of hair he was just chopping off. I began to feel a bit resentful of Stephen too, he was sitting there watching this happen, it was his fault that here I was in the chair. I felt even more anxious as I watched my hair being butchered with thinning shears, but so far, the only attention my sideboards had received was combing. It seemed like I had been ages in the chair as I sat there watching him open the steriliser cabinet and then change the blade on a set of electric clippers. This was not looking too good for me I thought, noticing the long cable, he had a grim look of determination on his face
"Is that a pound note on the floor just there?"
He said pointing to the floor in front of me, of course innocently I looked, before I knew it, he had placed his hand on my head bent it a bit more forward and held it firmly in position. He began to clip the back of my head; I was far from amused by this stunt. I could feel the hair being stripped off and falling away onto my neck, it wasn’t long before he had moved my head to the left side, I felt the clippers where my right sideburn was. He pressed hard and I knew that he was almost taking it completely away, he then buzzed above my ears, to be followed by the same the other side. He restored my head to his normal position and I could see in the mirror what he had done.
"Yes, the sides have gone, they needed to go"
As he told me this, he was rubbing Brylcreem into my hair then combed it into a severe parting, having loosened the cape a considerable amount of dusting powder was applied. Having released me from the chair he offered to cut Stephen’s hair which was declined. When my father came home from work, he was very pleased to see my super short haircut and wanted to know where I had been to have it cut. He said that as I would be starting in the fourth-year next week at school, I had a very important year ahead of me. I had to work very hard…knuckle down as he put it and Mr Tomkins would be ideal to take care of my hair from now on.
"But dad he is awful, he is so strict and look what he done to my hair"
"Now Tim, he has done a really good job on your hair…it’s the best it’s looked for a long time and I’m sure he isn’t that bad"
"He really is dad; he is so strict and stern"
"Well that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if he cuts your hair well that’s what matters"
I knew that dad wouldn’t budge so Mr Tomkins became my regular barber, Stephen found it quite amusing and would jokingly say "Is that a pound note on the floor?" every time I had been to have my short back and sides.