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Grandpa's Barbershop by Snipped Sam

Young Stephen had been quite happy to part with his wedge haircut, he returned home and his grandpa who he now lived with appeared to be pleased. Grandpa was a very conservative gentleman and had not approved of the long hair of the sixties and seventies and certainly was non keen on Stephen’s wedge hairstyle once popular in the late seventies and early eighties,

"It’s a step in the right direction"

Grandpa told Stephen who was now twenty-one. And Stephen knew all too well that Grandpa was never afraid to express an opinion especially when it came to Stephen’s hair. When Stephen was a young boy up until his early teens when Grandpa came to visit, he would take him to the barber’s. Grandpa favoured the traditional short back and sides and that’s what he would always tell the barber to give his grandson.

"I thought you would like it Grandpa"

"As I say, it’s a step in the right direction, but your hair never looked as good as when I used to take you"

"I know"

Was Stephen’s reply, having mixed feelings on the subject, whilst part of him was self-conscious of his appearance and worried about having his hair too short another part missed Grandpa’s take charge approach to his hair. It was October 1981 that Stephen suffered from the recession when his hours were cut, Grandpa knew that he was down when he returned home. With Stephen having a considerable debt on his credit card he had a great deal to worry about.
Grandpa did not wish to wrap him in cotton wool nor be too harsh either, and that evening that sat down and worked out a budget so Stephen could pay off his credit card and cover his living costs too. It seemed to Stephen that Grandpa seemed a bit too ready to clamp down on his spending but he knew that he had to go along with it. He was also really miffed when Grandpa sent him to fetch his credit card and, on his return, Grandpa cut it up but this was not the only thing Grandpa had set his eyes on cutting.

"I forget to ask you Stephen, how much do you spend on your hair?"

"It’s seven pounds and then the tip Grandpa"

"That’s far too much to spend"

"I have to have it cut Grandpa"

"I know you do Son, but you just can’t afford that sort of money at the moment so I think it’s best if I start giving you a trim"

Stephen felt his hair, it wouldn’t need cutting just yet anyway, the next morning Grandpa gave him a letter to post, and Stephen didn’t think too much about it, except that old boy must be sending off for something by the address on the envelope. Stephen though nothing more of it until about ten days later on a Saturday morning a parcel arrived.

"Looks like Grandpa’s clippers have arrived; I was hoping they would be here today"

"Why have you sent off for clippers?"

"After our chat about you having to save money, I saw these advertised in the newspaper, so I thought I’d best get some tools to give you a haircut"

"I thought you were going to just trim my hair Grandpa"

"Don’t you go worrying about what I’m going to do, just because I’ve got some clippers doesn’t mean I’m going to make my favourite grandson look like a convict"

Stephen had his Saturday morning chores to do whilst Grandpa sat and read the instructions, the old gentleman himself had thick white hair, he had taken care of his appearance. A bit later Stephen brought in his grandfather’s morning coffee along with a couple of biscuits, the clippers were in an opened box beside him.

"So those are the clippers then Grandpa"

"Yes Stephen, I’ve read the instructions and I’m ready for the off, that wasn’t the intended"

"What Grandpa?"

"When I said ready for the off, I wasn’t making a pun about your hair coming off"

"Just how short are you going to cut my hair?"

He pondered on the question, from the wording used young Stephen was resigned to him being in charge, this was very encouraging he thought.

"I’m not quite sure just yet, but don’t you worry"

Stephen was asked to pop around the corner to the shop to get something for his grandfather, on his return the kitchen had been prepared. The clippers had been plugged in, scissors and comb sat on the side, along with some talcum powder and on the kitchen chair rested a white cotton sheet.

"You’ve been busy Grandpa"

"Yes, it’s not going to be that fancy place that charges you a fortune but have faith in your Grandpa and take a seat"

He said removing the white cotton sheet, Stephen sat down

"There’s no mirror Grandpa"

"No there’s no mirror at Grandpa’s barbershop, that’s why you paid seven pounds for all those fancy extras"

Replied Grandpa as he fitted the white sheet in place tucking it into Stephen’s white tee-shirt

"I still would have like to have seen what’s being done"

"Your late grandma would have told you as she knew all too well, I never like being watched especially if I’m doing something tricky… like my grandson’s hair"

He ran the comb through Stephen’s hair, and decided to err on the side of caution and start cutting some hair on the back of his head, lifting the hair with a comb he snipped off half an inch. So far so good he thought as he lifted the next piece of hair for the chop and another snip. After taking a few bold snips at the back, he was ready to move into the front, combing Stephen’s fringe forward, he poised the scissors ready to take an inch in length off. The truth was he had it in mind to cut the front short and as the blades of the scissors came together the hair fell. Stephen who had been told to close his eyes firstly was aware how high the scissors were and secondly felt the hair brush against his cheeks as it rolled away. Grandpa used a brand-new paint brush to sweep away the loose hairs, Stephen thought to himself that he’s thought of everything. As he lifted the hair with the comb and snipped at the left side of his grandson’s head, he thought to himself Cyril you’re a natural. Of course, he was cutting Stephen’s hair the way he wanted it to look, and his blond hair needed to be cut short. Eventually having completed an even cut on both sides of Stephen’s head he gave the loose hairs their marching orders with the paint brush.

"How’s it going Grandpa?"

"Its going well…best its looked in years I’d say"

"Not since you last took me to have my haircut then"

"Got it in one Stephen"

Those haircuts were always so short, Stephen remembered one Christmas when Grandpa came to stay and it was snowing when they left the barbers and his hair was so short and the snow falling on his bare neck. Thinking of very short bristly hair and bare necks, Grandpa was now holding the clippers.

"Now Stephen, I’ve read the instructions on how to operate these boys, and the booklet tells me all about the plastic guards that go on them. It tells me that a number three gives three eighths of an inch cut and that’s sounds a good way to start"

"Have you ever used clippers before Grandpa?"

"We had a west highland terrier once, I used to clip him … it’s now time to look at Grandpa’s nice new shoes"

He was using a term used by one of Stephen’s barbers who used to say "time to look at my nice shiny shoes". Stephen knew exactly what Grandpa meant and lowered his head and caught sight of the brown suede shoes, some of his blond hair rested on them.

"Down just a bit more Stephen"

Stephen obliged and then felt the clippers touch his neck, of course by now they were already loudly buzzing, slowly he took them up the back of Stephen’s head. Cyril thought to himself this is easier than I thought and after three run ups quietly congratulated himself. Stephen felt very anxious and Grandpa’s words of reassurance of its all going well did not entirely calm his nerves. He carried on taking the clippers to the sides of Stephen’s head, once all the clipping was completed it was time for a few more snips with the scissors. Cyril was really pleased with the results, short back and sides with a short cut on top with a neat side parting. Taking a disposable plastic razor, he shaved the loose hairs on Stephen’s neck and neatened up the sides.

After a thorough brush down Grandpa powdered Stephen’s neck and then removed the sheet. As Stephen made his way to the bathroom his hand explored the back of his head and when he looked in the bathroom mirror, he loved what he saw. Using the mirrors on the doors of the bathroom cabinet he could see the back of his head; Grandpa had done a great job. But he couldn’t spend too long there because he had his hair to sweep up

"Well Stephen?"

"It looks great Grandpa, thanks"

"Not bad for a beginner heh lad?"

"I’d say Grandpa"

"But if you wanting to get a job in Grandpa’s barbershop you need to improve your sweeping up...you missed a bit over there"

"Sorry Grandpa"

Grandpa began to pack away the clippers in the box, taking off the number three guard and putting on the number one ready for Stephen’s next haircut, looking forward to seeing the eighth of an inch finish.

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