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He needs a good cut by SteDJ

This is a true story that happened back in 1978 when I was 12. We had just moved house to a new area, and with all the hustle and bustle of moving, certain things such as haircuts had taken something of a back seat. I was quite delighted that my blond hair had grown out to quite a length " it totally covered my ears, fell over my collar at the back, and hung down over my eyes in front. As far as I was concerned, the longer the better " that’s how everybody appeared to wear it then, and like any kid, I was desperate to fit in. I knew though, that one day, my luck would run out, and one Monday morning over breakfast, that’s just what happened.

"You need a haircut, Stephen," said my dad, eyeing me with distaste. "You look like a scruff. You can go to the barber’s after school today and get it properly cut and styled."
"Oh, do I have to?" I protested. "It’s not that long, and most boys in my class have it longer than me. It’s not fair…"

My mum then pitched in "I can take him. I need to pick up some shopping this afternoon and there’s a gent’s hairdresser on the parade on Church Street " I can drop him in there while I pop into the supermarket."

So that was it. My fate was sealed. I spent the day with a heavy heart contemplating what was to come and making the most of the blond locks that would soon be consigned to the barber’s floor.

School finished, and my Mum was waiting at the gate. It was only a short walk to Church Street, and before long I could see a revolving red and white cylinder on the front of a building looming into view up ahead. "A Harrison, Gentlemen’s Hairdressing" read the lettering above the shop. There was a net curtain across the window, so it was impossible to see inside, but it didn’t matter; I knew straight away that this place was as far from trendy as it was possible to be in the 1970s.

My mum grabbed me by the arm and pushed the door open. A bell tinkled and I was led inside the shop. I was met by that typical barber shop aroma that smelt like a mixture of tobacco and perfumed after shave. The barber, a tall slim man in his 60s with slicked back grey hair and smartly dressed in shirt and tie and a white nylon jacket turned round to greet us.
"Can I leave him with you?" said my mum. "He needs a good cut and can you style it for him." No problem," replied the barber. "It will be my pleasure." With that, my mum took my parka anorak off me, hung it up on the coat stand and forced me to sit down on one of the waiting chairs. "I shouldn’t be too long, be good, Stephen." The bell tinkled again, and my mum left the shop.

I gloomily surveyed my surroundings. The chequered black and white linoleum floor was strewn with mounds of hair clippings, lots of different shades, some brown, some black, some blond and some auburn. Some bits were straight, others were curly and all had been attached to a variety of heads at some time earlier in the day. The hissing of an old gas heater and the busy metallic clicking of the barber’s scissors were the only sounds to break the silence in the shop. The yellow walls were faded and decorated with old black and white pictures of men and boys with very short haircuts. A mirror ran the full width of the shop opposite where I was sitting, beneath which were shelves crammed with all manner of haircutting implements. Dominating the shop was a single massive barber chair with a cream enamelled base and chrome fittings. I couldn’t see a lot of the chair as much of it along with its teenage occupant was covered in a huge bright blue nylon barber’s sheet. Judging by the piles of hair on his shoulders and down the front of the blue sheet, the boy in the chair was clearly in the late stages of a brutal shearing. He looked far from happy as the barber’s scissors busily chopped away at the remaining hair on the top of his head, and I looked on in fascinated horror as it cascaded down to join the heap in his lap. The barber had clearly gone to town around his ears and on the back of his neck, as all that was left was white skin and the merest hint of stubble. I began to worry that this was what was meant by a ‘good cut’ in this place and would I end up looking the same? I watched as a load of hair slid off the boy’s shoulder and floated down to join the severed locks that carpeted the floor around the base of the chair. As I looked up again, the barber had grabbed the boy by the chin, combed his fringe forward and with three decisive snips cut a sharp line about two inches above his eyebrows. Next it was a blast with the hairdryer, a thorough brush down with the nylon brush, down with the chair and off with the cape, dumping the rest of the boy’s hair to the ground. The barber threw the cape over the arm of the chair, the boy paid and left the shop, looking more than a little shellshocked. The clock was now ticking. It would be my turn any second. Oh s**t.

"Next boy please," announced the barber. "Take your blazer off or you’ll get too hot under the gown." I did as I was bid and hung my blazer on the coat stand next to my anorak. "In the chair please." I slowly walked across to the chair, my legs feeling like jelly as I climbed on the footrest and eased my way up onto the padded black leather seat. The barber picked up the cape and gave it a good shake, liberating it of any remaining hair from its last wearer, and threw it over me. The rustling blue nylon billowed through the air and came to rest on my shoulders and over my knees before the barber pulled it tight around my neck and tucked it firmly into the back of my shirt collar. There was no escape now. Smoothing the cape over my shoulders, the barber then repeatedly stamped hard on the foot pedal, and the chair rose skywards in a series of jolts. I looked at myself in the mirror " a sea of blue nylon surrounding the intended head all ready for the barber to inflict his worst.

"When did you last have this cut?" sneered the barber as he dragged his comb through my unruly mop. As he combed the front forward, my vision was obscured by a curtain of hair reaching almost to my nose. I tried to flick it back so that I could see, but was told by the barber in no uncertain terms to keep still. The next thing I knew was my head being roughly shoved forward " my chin was touching my chest " and then the sound of a loud ‘clack’ followed by a low humming noise filled the air. I could just see a bit of the blue smock over my knees and a black electric cable snaking towards me across my lap. Oh my God, I thought, I’m going to end up looking like his last victim. All too soon I felt a cold vibrating sensation as the clippers crunched into the hair on the back of my neck, moving quickly upwards in a relentless trail of destruction. The humming noise lowered in pitch as the machine fought its way through the thick tresses. I could feel chunks of hair falling onto my bare neck as the barber made pass after pass, reducing the back of my head to stubble. He then sank his fingers into the hair on the top of my head in a vice-like grip and shoved my head over to the side, forcing the hair-hungry clippers up and around my ear. Hanks of hair several inches long rained down onto my cape as my right ear made its first public appearance in years. The same happened on the other side, the humming machine from hell having become quite hot by now as it dug in and continued to remove everything in its path. Suddenly everything went quiet, and through my long fringe I could just see the barber replacing the clippers on the counter in front of me below the mirror. He was nowhere near finished yet though, and straight away a shrill buzzing sound filled the air as once more my head was shoved forward and more clipping was inflicted around the edge of my poor half-naked scalp. These smaller clippers made my spine tingle as he pressed then into the back of my neck and round my ears.

Just then the door opened to sound of the tinkling bell, and a man obviously well known to the barber walked in.
"Hello Arthur," said the visitor. "Did you get chance to look at my electric razor?"
"Yes," replied the barber. "If you would just like to come this way."

Leaving me in the chair surrounded by heaps of my own hair, the barber told me not to move and that he would be back in a minute. The barber and the visitor disappeared into the back room. Meanwhile, I flicked my fringe out of the way and took the opportunity to survey the damage so far. Lifting my arm out from under the cape, I ran my hand up the back of my head, and as I did so I got an almighty shock " smooth bare skin at my hairline, then sandpaper " the hair had been totally obliterated. I was terrified as to what it was going to look like. In the mirror I could see my ears sticking out from the sides of my head surrounded by shaved white skin " and a disproportionately massive mop of blond hair on top of my head that the barber would no doubt soon turn his attention to.

As I was busy surveying the carnage, the doorbell rang again, and I was horrified to see one of my friends from church, Simon, being escorted onto the premises by his mother. I blushed with embarrassment, feeling really stupid sitting there high in the air draped in a blue sheet with half a haircut, and wished the floor would open up and swallow me.
"Hiya Stephen," said Simon, looking at me with a smirk on his face. He walked over to me and picked up a fistful of cut hair from the floor and feigned sympathy as he threw it into my lap, allowing it to join the vast pile that had already accumulated there.
"P**s off," I hissed. "Go away Simon…"
"Love the skinhead," he replied, clearly enjoying every moment of the situation.
Simon’s mother intervened and ordered him to sit down on one of the waiting chairs.
"Behave yourself or you’ll be getting a skinhead as well."

Suddenly I heard the barber coming back and I fought to get my arm back under the cape and shook my head letting my fringe once again flop in front of my eyes.
"I thought I told you not to move," snarled the barber, noticing that the cape had been disturbed and that some of my fringe was sticking up. "Right, let’s get this lot blitzed," he added, picking up a large pair of scissors and his black comb.

He waved the scissors in the air in front of me, opening and closing them menacingly, then wasting no more time, he dug the scissors into the side of my remaining mop, selected a huge section of hair, scooped it up with the comb then with an almighty crunch closed the scissors to hack off the entire three-inch length that protruded beyond the comb. The severed chunk of hair hit the smock and tumbled down to join the rest of the cut hair in my lap. This happened over and again and a rhythm developed " snippety snip, snip, snip, snip until I had no more than an inch of hair remaining on top of my head. By now there was hair everywhere and the bright blue of the cape was fast disappearing under heaps of my blond tresses. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and my bottom lip began to tremble, but aware that Simon would be taking in every second of the spectacle from his vantage point in the waiting area, I tried to fight back any display of emotion. But still the barber hadn’t finished. Next was an onslaught from the thinning shears, which made more of a crunching noise than the snipping noise made by the ordinary scissors and he hacked away at the remaining locks, occasionally stopping to knock out accumulations of cut hair from the teeth of the shears. Still, my long fringe was still intact, so that was something to be thankful for " for the time being at least. Putting down the thinning shears and returning to the ordinary scissors, I had a sick feeling of déjà vu as he grabbed my chin, forced my head upwards and with three deft snips removed almost all of my fringe, leaving at least two inches of bare forehead above my eyebrows.

"Will that be OK or would you like any more off?" asked the barber. It was only then that I realised that my mother had reappeared and was sitting behind me next to Simon and his mother on one of the waiting chairs " and it was to her that he was addressing the question.
"No, no, that will be fine, thank you," she replied, and for the first time since losing my fringe I could see my surroundings more clearly, including the rather shocked look on my mum’s face. "That’s very smart," she added.

The barber then soaked my hair with a fine mist of spray from a squeezy bottle, created a razor-sharp side parting and then blasted my head with hot air from a big old silver hairdryer. The torrent of hot air sent mountains of cut hair flying to the floor, and switching off the dryer he then untucked the back of the cape and scraped my neck with a cut throat razor, sending more shivers down my spine. Brandishing his hand mirror, the barber then showed me his handywork. It was truly awful " my head shaved to within an inch of its life around the back and sides, acres of white skin and arches cut high above my ears. The top wasn’t much better, being only just long enough to lay flat. I could hardly bear to look and cringed when I thought about the comments and taunting I would receive at school the next day.

I then received a vigorous brushing down, the chair was let down with a gentle hiss, the smock removed and a piece of tissue thrust into my hand. The barber then shook the smock vigorously to remove the last of my hair, my mum paid him, I climbed down from the chair and put my blazer and coat back on. "Next boy please," said the barber, already eyeing Simon’s overgrown mop as the boy hesitantly made his way to the throne of torture. I pulled the hood of my parka over my shorn head, stepped out into the street and gently sobbed all the way home.

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