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The Element of Surprise - Part 2 by Snipped Sam
Following my first haircut from Young Mr Ash, which met with my father’s complete approval just four weeks later I was again in Mr Kittle’s vintage car this time very early on a Saturday morning. This time I knew I was having my haircut, with Mr Kittle telling my father where he would be going and asking if he would like my hair cut too. Joe gave me the same short haircut that I had previously had, I was less stressed this time after all everyone had now seen me with very short hair. It seemed that my brother really was invincible because despite being reminded to get a haircut, his hair continued to grow.
However, things were about to change, just a few weeks later he was in big trouble at school and the threat of expulsion hung over him, he was suspended before going before the headmaster and two school governors for a disciplinary hearing. He really was in a bad way, dreading expulsion because despite being full of bravado, he desperately wanted to get his GCSEs to follow his dreams of a career as a journalist. The headmaster apparently told my father that before the meeting Duncan might do well to acquire a similar haircut to mine. Duncan’s hair was going to be history but he pleaded with my father to let him go on his own without my father or certainly not involve Mr Kittle.
Our father agreed but insisted that he went to Ash and Son, I had a feeling that they were all making this out to be far worse than it was to really bring Duncan into line. He was really intelligent and it would be crazy to expel him from the school, which would mean he had to change schools, I was amused about the haircut though. He asked me what it was like there, I told him that it was a bit old fashioned but Joe was okay but he was someone that it was best to keep the right side of. I said that once you got used to the idea it wasn’t really that bad, he then said that it might not be so bad if he was taking me to get my haircut as well. I knew that I was about due to get my next haircut, in spite of Duncan’s teasing in the past, I agreed to make him feel a bit less miserable about it. I think we both knew that our father would not have left things to chance and Joe would have received a telephone call.
The next day he met me from school, we then went straight to Lambert Street, when we got there not only was Joe engaged in cutting hair but also his father. There was nobody waiting so we both sat on the bench to wait our turn. I noticed that Joe’s hair looked like it had just been cut, very short at the back and round his ears, then a bit later Mr Ash Senior joked that he had only come in to cut Joe’s hair but had been put to work. Joe finished first and having attended to his customer returned to his chair
"Will you be going after you’ve finished your customer Dad?"
"I’ll stay and do one of the lads then call it a day"
"Up to you Dad"
I don’t think that Duncan was going to risk Mr Ash Senior cutting his hair and figured that Joe was the lesser of two evils, because he stood up ready for Joe, he joked to his father that it looked like he’d got me. Duncan was called to the chair and once he had sat down was soon prepared, after combing his hair Joe asked him what was to be done.
"I’d like it done similar to how you cut my brother Simon’s hair"
"So, you would like it short young Sir"
Like you have a choice I thought, what’s with the I’d like it done? my first time there was no what would you like done? and my second haircut Mr Kittle had spoken on my behalf, saying the same as you cut it before Joe. Joe wasted no time in starting to cut his hair just as he had done the first haircut, he had given me. The elderly gentleman who had been Mr Ash senior’s customer was finished and departed and I was called to the chair. As I sat down in the chair next to where Duncan was sitting, I noticed the pile of his golden-brown hair resting on the cape. Mr Ash senior was a smart gentleman and wore a long white barber’s coat as opposed to the short navy blue one that Joe wore. I was soon prepared and my hair combed methodically before he asked Joe about my hair.
"How short does he have it Joe?"
"I have been giving him the traditional short back and sides"
"That’s exactly what I thought, but I like to check"
He said as he selected his scissors
"Face the front for me lad"
He said as he began to cut my hair, soon you could hear two sets of scissors busily working on both brother’s hair, Mr Ash Senior seemed quite strict in his approach by the way he moved and positioned my head to work on my hair. As time went on, I was really curious to see how Duncan’s haircut was progressing. When Mr Ash Senior swopped over scissors, I glanced to my left to look at Duncan, he looked far from happy, with his hair cut very close to his head.
"You were told to face the front"
I was told sternly by my barber as he began to thin the hair on the top with thinning scissors, he worked away mercilessly. I really had a feeling that this haircut was going to be even shorter than I had previously had there. I heard Joe say to Duncan "down we go old lad" and I could see him take the clippers from the hook to the right of where Duncan was sitting.
"Have you thought about using the Forfex Joe?"
"I hadn’t done Dad"
"Give the lad a treat"
Joe left the clippers where they were and walked behind where his father was standing and went to the right of the chair, I was sitting in. He unplugged some very meaty looking brown Bakelite clippers from his father’s selection and returned to Duncan. I heard them being plugged in and then the hum when they were switched on, they were considerably older than the clippers that Joe had used on me. Soon after that came the sound of the Forfex clippers ploughing through hair, part of me did feel a bit sorry for Duncan, but I reminded myself that he had found my first haircut a huge joke. I remembered coming home from the barber’s and his roar of laughter and him joking with his friends about it. Having dusted my face and head Mr Ash told me that we had to wait for his son to finish with the clippers. To be honest, as I was going to be clipped anyway, I think I was rather pleased that I was also going to be having the Forfex.
I sat there facing the front but really wanting to see what was happening to my left, Joe eventually returned with the clippers and plugged them back in to his father’s clipper station, walking back he gave me a wink as he looked at me in the mirror. Mr Ash Senior now had hold of the Forfex and down went my head, the clippers came to life and Mr Ash Senior began to clip the back of my head. The metal blade seemed quite hot, as the elderly gentleman expertly clipped the back of my head, just as he probably had Joe’s when he was my age. Having taken care of the back of my head he turned his attention to the sides of my head; the blades really were hot and definitely not as smooth as Joe’s usual clippers. I could hear Duncan saying that’s great and thanks, so I imagined that Joe was showing him the back with the mirror. I bet thanking him and having to pretend he liked his new haircut was not pleasing Duncan one little bit but he would do that to save face.
My head had been lifted up when Joe walked past the chair I was in, followed by Duncan who was wiping his neck with tissue. I could see that the back of his head had been severely clipped and he had been heavily Brylcreemed. Mr Ash Senior now had his razor opened out from the sheath and was ready to attack, shaving my neck and around my ears.
"What do you usually have on your hair son?"
"Mr Ash puts Brylcreem and a bit of Vaseline when he does it, but I would prefer some Cossack"
"I asked what you usually had on your hair, not what you would prefer"
Sorry I replied a bit taken aback by his abrupt response; he first applied the Vaseline, carefully combing it into my hair followed by a couple of dabs of Brylcreem rubbed in and then precision combing with a very sharp left sided parting.
"Would you like me to show you the back in the mirror?"
He lifted up the mirror and showed me the back of my head, it definitely was shorter than my previous two haircuts there with the clippers taken higher and the blades of the Forfex had cut more severely
"Thank you, Sir"
"Looks very smart, you have a good shaped head, so never be afraid to have your hair cut very short"
He then picked up the Cossack hairspray, told me to close my eyes and then gave my hair a good spray with it. After this came the dusting powder and the removal of the cape and my release from the chair. Duncan sat there waiting for me, he looked far from happy with his hair cut just as short as mine, I paid for my haircut and we left. The following day was Duncan’s disciplinary hearing in front of the school governors, our father went with him. My father told me after than the master that Duncan had wanted expulsion. The governors and the headmaster had taken this into account but had decided that Duncan would be placed on a final warning so any misdemeanour however minor could see him expelled.
"This will include his appearance, so his hair will also remain short for the rest of his school days"
"He won’t like that Dad"
"Don’t be too gleeful about it Simon"
"I’ll try not to be"
"Best not to be, because I am going to be keeping your hair short too"