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A half term haircut by Snipped Sam
Sitting on the long leather covered bench at the barber’s I began to panic, I would be next in the chair, and the boy who was currently sitting in the chair was getting an alarmingly short haircut. The barber seemed very enthusiastic as he buzzed away with his clippers and the hair just fell way from the boy’s head. This was my first time at this barber’s shop, having recently been going to different places and not usually the same place a second time, I seriously questioned why I had come to this place in view of the fact it was so traditional and shall I say old fashioned.
The mid 1970s was a time when most fifteen-year olds had their hair quite long if they were allowed to, my chestnut brown hair was just above my collar and slightly growing over my ears. I had been considering growing it over my ears completely although my tradional father was encouraging me not to. I knew that he would strongly approve of this place, the fact was according to the clock on the wall I had been there just over forty-five minutes waiting my turn. Firstly, that was a lot of time dedicated to waiting for a haircut…how would the barber react if I got up and left? What could I possibly say? Although I was feeling rather sick with panic, should I say that I felt unwell…I remembered that I had to be somewhere?
"Yes, young man"
"Err, is there any chance I come back tomorrow instead?"
"Thursdays are my half day and I am usually very busy in the morning, it could be a long wait, you’ve already been waiting a good while so I think you should have it done now son, why don’t you hang your coat on the pegs over there then you’ll be ready to go straight in the chair"
I sat there as if I was glued to the chair,
"Young man...the coat pegs are over there"
I stood up and hung up my coat on the peg…the barber had now considerably reduced the chances of me making an exit without a haircut. I returned to my seat and a short while after the boy was finished and off the chair, the barber wasted no time in telling me to take my place on the chair and kept the boy waiting whilst he prepared me for my haircut. I sat there with the navy-blue nylon cape fitted snugly, as the boy had his shoulders brushed with the clothes brush then paid for his haircut and left.
"Alright young man?"
"Always a bit of an ordeal when you have to sit there waiting for your turn….and I don’t know many boys that actually like going to the barber’s"
"But not so bad once you’re in the chair"
"I suppose not"
He started to comb my hair
"So back to school on Monday after the half term"
"Yes, back to school on Monday that’s why I need a trim"
"A trim heh young man"
"Please, just a tidy up …. if that’s alright"
I knew immediately after I had said if that’s alright was not a good choice of words, making a trim up for discussion.
"I think you need a bit more off than you’d get with a trim lad"
"How much more?"
Another bad choice of words, how much more? was saying I am listening to what you think
"Oh, a lot more I think don’t you son?"
"Not really… I only want a trim"
"Another time perhaps…but not today"
"Then I don’t really want to have my haircut"
The door opened and to my horror in the mirror I could see my history teacher from school, after exchanging pleasantries with the barber he looked at me.
"Good afternoon Jacobs, just in time to see you have your haircut by the looks of things"
This was not good, Mr Harding was a very strict man who was definitely a fan of the short back and sides.
"Good afternoon Sir"
I replied feeling very uneasy as I did not welcome his presence, Mr Harding was well known for arranging visits to the headmaster for caning.
"I didn’t know that you came here Jacobs"
"My first time Sir"
"Yes, his first time and we were just having a discussion on what’s to be done"
"I would have thought that there isn’t much to discuss…a simple five letter word sums up what’s needed"
"Whereas trim only has four letters lad"
"A short haircut is needed here Jacobs, now let’s have no more of this trim nonsense"
I replied knowing that where Mr Harding was concerned there could be no alternative and to think I was just about to leave without a haircut. Mr Harding sat down and the barber without further delay took his scissors and started to snip my hair.
"I take it that you were encouraging Jacobs to have his hair cut short during the discussion"
"A lot off, was mentioned by yours truly…I have to say that I think the young rascal was about to make a run for it had you not put in an appearance"
"Is this true Jacobs?"
"No, not really Sir"
"Umm, I am not so sure Jacobs"
"The main thing is he’s having his haircut now"
"Indeed" replied Mr Harding clearly unconvinced
Large pieces of hair fell with each snip, the hair which had started to cover my ears was very quickly taken away, he had not wasted anytime there. Mr Harding picked up a newspaper and started to read it, with his bald head and his short haircut and moustache he reminded me of the photographs I had seen of Lenin. The barber chatted to me whilst he snipped away, he asked if Mr Harding taught me, and what subject and then asked if I was good at History.
"Jacobs is good at achieving the minimum requirements, but as for ability or enthusiasm he is decidedly lack lustre I’m afraid"
"Oh dear" the barber replied to his comments
He had never given me any decent marks for my work and his comments on my school report were never encouraging or kind. Well below average…unimpressive…needs to get down to some serious studying had all been written about me by him. He returned back to his newspaper whilst the thinning scissors attacked my hair, they banged away at my head. Once this had been completed the barber combed my hair with a neat side parting, and then opened the cape at the back, then folding the collar of my shirt down before refastening it tightly. The lack of snipping had obviously got Mr Harding’s attention and he had put the newspaper down. The barber selected his clippers, the same black Bakelite ones he had used on the boy who had gone before me.
"A nice short finish with the clippers Sir" he remarked to Mr Harding
"Oh, I think he needs to be taught a lesson…I want you to do it really short"
"Of course, Sir"
The barber replied as he bent my head forward, the clippers were powered up and began buzzing away at the back of my head, he pressed the clippers hard into my head, Mr Harding began to give his orders to the barber
"Really go for it …………………………………..Make him look like a first year on his first day at school …………………………………………………………………….Show him no leniency……………………………… ……………………………that’s right really butcher him……………………………………………………
……………...let’s make this a lesson he won’t forget" ………………………………………
It was bad enough having to endure such a clipping but to hear all this from Mr Harding whilst this was being done was horrendous. The barber changed clippers to complete the job, I could only imagine the devastation from where I could feel the clippers had been which was right up the back and sides of my head. When my head was restored to its normal position I was gutted, but the barber wasted no time in applying a large dollop of Brylcreem to the small amount of hair on the top of my head. The barber then picked up the mirror to show me the back of my head, there was a lot of bare skin which was red from the clipping
"That is what is called a smart and very suitable haircut Jacobs but I dare say you are too stupid to know that"
By this time, I was so upset and angry
"I’m not F****** stupid Mr Harding, I f***** hate this haircut and I f***** hate you as well"
"Now, now lad be careful what you say" said the barber as he removed the cape and let me off the chair"
"After morning assembly on Monday Jacobs, you will report to me and we will go and see the headmaster, we will see what he has to say about your behaviour and attitude. I think we can safely say that the headmaster will take a very dim view of this Jacobs…it’s certainly going to be six of the best for you Jacobs"