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Back To The Barber on Devonshire Road by Snipped Sam
After my first haircut from Mr Peterson, and with Nigel having suggested that I could go with him when he went to Mr Peterson, it was a waiting game. When he first spoke about it, he said he would probably be going in about there in about three weeks’ time. This gave my hair time to grow a bit, my dad really approved of my new haircut but to date hadn’t given me an indication if he planned to keep it very short. It all depended on when Nigel’s father decided he was sending him to Mr Peterson, with the possibility that it could be short notice, I kept a spare fifty pence piece in my pocket. It was just over three weeks when after morning assembly Nigel told me:
"I have to get my haircut after school today, is that too soon for you?"
"I suppose not, do we go there straight from school?"
"Yes, we’ll try and get there as soon as we can, in case he gets busy."
I spent the rest of the school day really looking forward to going to Mr Peterson’s, after the school bell rang and we were dismissed, we set off. I still felt bad that I had been one of the cowards who had laughed at the jokes about Nigel’s hair, as we made our way to Devonshire Road he seemed like a man on a mission. When we arrived, it seemed rather different from last time for me, firstly he was open for business, and secondly, I had come specifically to have my haircut.I followed Nigel in, our barber sat reading a newspaper, he looked up from it and then stood up and folded it.
"Good afternoon, boys."
"Good afternoon, Sir."
Nigel replied, but I just said good afternoon.
"So, you have a friend with you today, Nigel."
"Yes Sir, Mark is also having a haircut."
"Nice to see you again Mark and I’m very pleased to see you back again for another haircut."
Was my reply, realising that I should be following Nigel’s lead in calling him Sir.
"Now as you are the new boy so to speak Mark, I will take Nigel first, you haven’t seen me giving a haircut yet apart from your own, have you?"
"Take a seat over there, school bags go under the seat."
I went over to the wooden chairs, and Nigel also came over and put his bag under the chair next to me, he then took off his blazer and placed it on the chair. Mr Peterson was now standing by the barber’s chair holding the cape. I watched Nigel go over to him, then sit bolt upright in the chair so Mr Peterson could fit the cape, which he smoothly did. He combed Nigel’s hair with a damp comb, then took his scissors and started to cut his hair on top. It seemed strange, pretty scary and also exciting knowing that in a short while, we would change places. He chatted away to Nigel, he was talking to him about his father and I gathered that he also went there, then I heard him say. Having put down the scissors and now brushing Nigel’s face I heard him say.
"When he as here last week, he said that you are going to a memorial service on Saturday."
"Yes Sir, that’s why he wanted it cut before then."
"I know, he said I should cut it shorter than you usually have it, so you look really respectable."
I found it funny, having seen a succession of very short haircuts which he had given Nigel, how much shorter could he cut it? I wondered as he opened the drawer and carefully selected the hand clippers.
"Has something amused you, Mark?"
"Not really Sir."
"Obviously something has, by the grin on your face."
"It’s just I didn’t think Nige’s hair could really get any shorter, than he has it."
"Well, I think you’ll be surprised."
At this point I didn’t want Nigel to think I was finding it funny about his haircut, so I said to him that I wasn’t laughing at him. But before he had a chance to answer Mr Peterson had bent his head down, and his hand was busily squeezing the handles of the clippers. Nigel’s hair was falling away at an alarming rate and the clippers he was using were definitely giving a shorter cut. Mr Peterson was also taking them up higher than he usually did.A while later, having also taken care of the hair above Nigel’s ears, his head was restored to the upright position, at this point a man probably in his late thirties came in to buy something from the counter, so I had the chance to speak to him again.
"I didn’t mean to find it funny Nige."
"Well, I didn’t expect when you came along, that you would think it was such a huge joke."
"I don’t honestly."
"Is there any hair left at the back?"
"Yeh, of course there is."
The man left with his purchases in a paper bag, and Mr Peterson came back and then applied the shaving cream to Nigel’s neck and by his ears. Then with the razor he began to shave the areas clean. The finished result was drastic, with a much bigger area of bare skin above his hairline than usual as well as above his ears. After wiping his neck and round his ears, young Nigel was given the Brylcreem treatment.As Mr Peterson sculpted the side parting, my heart was racing, and then after a brushing down and powdering of his neck, Mr Peterson loosened the cape at the back. He then took the cape away, then handing Nige a tissue, told him he could step off the chair.
I quickly took off my blazer and folded it and left it on the chair, and made my way to the barber’s chair, then sat up bolt upright just like Nigel had done. I was soon caped, and then he went over to the counter to take the money for Nigel’s haircut.
"Now you get to watch me cut your friends hair, Nigel."
"Yes Sir, but he’s not really my friend, more a boy from school, and before he had his haircut the other week, he used to make jokes about my short hair."
"So why did you come with him.?
"After he had his first short haircut, we got talking and I said he could always come with me when I next came here, if he wanted to."
Mr Peterson came over to me and Nigel sat down.
"Wasn’t very nice of you to make jokes about Nigel’s haircuts."
"It was mean Sir, I know."
"There is nothing wrong with having a short haircut."
"I know Sir."
"Also, there is nothing funny in Nigel’s father wanting his hair cut even shorter than usual, so he looks very smart to go to a memorial service."
"As you boys came together to have your haircut, it occurs to me that I should give you both similar haircuts. That way if there are any jokes about Nigel’s hair tomorrow at school, you will have jokes too."
In many ways that was a step too far, to go so short on my second visit, but in other ways thrilling to have such a strict barber. Rather than just accept it, I thought that I should appeal.
"But my dad didn’t say I had to have my hair cut very short, he might not want it to be that short."
"When I saw him the other day, when he came to our house for a charity meeting, he thanked me for cutting your hair so well. So, I don’t think he will object do you?"
I knew that dad was really pleased that my hair had been cut but hadn’t realised that he had thanked Mr Peterson. I felt sick, in the mirror I could see Nigel sitting there, he had a smirk on his face.
"So, there really is no reason not to give you the same haircut as Nigel."
Mr Peterson had already dampened and combed my hair while he was talking, I watched him take his thinning shears, and he began to chop away at my hair on top. Nigel looked even more pleased and I knew it served me right. My hair was much thicker than Nigel’s hair, which is why Mr Peterson used thinning shears before his scissors.
"When Mrs Peterson heard that I had cut your hair, do you know what she said?"
"I hope you didn’t cut it too short."
"What did you say Sir?"
"I told her that I only did what was needed."
He thinned and snipped away, before brushing me down with the soft brush. I watched as he slowly opened the drawer in front of me wide and took out the hand clippers.
"I very rarely use these particular clippers, then twice in a few minutes."
Mr Peterson remarked, before bending my head right down, he then set to work on my clipping, up and up he went, operating the hand clippers skilfully. I wondered what Nigel must be thinking, he was probably really enjoying watching what Mr Peterson was doing to me. I could now see why Nigel had asked if he had any hair left at the back, I was wondering exactly the same. With Mr Peterson having totally massacred the sides and back he lifted up my head. Nigel was looking over and he mouthed the word skinhead, as Mr Peterson prepared the shaving cream. This was soon applied, and then he shaved the required areas on the back of my head and the region above my ears. He, then wiped the area dry with a towel, and then it was Brylcreem time. He vigorously rubbed in a large dallop of the sweet-smelling preparation, before combing my hair into an exacting side parting. When he held up the mirror, it looked exactly the same at the back as Nigel’s did.
"Thank you, Sir."
"I am going to give you boys a challenge …. Next time either of you come, bring with you a new boy to have his haircut."
"That won’t be at all easy to do, Sir."
Was Nigel’s reaction.
"But we can at least try Nige."
I quickly replied, as I was being released by Mr Peterson from the chair, having paid for my haircut and as I collected my blazer and school bag, Nigel joked.
"Let’s go skinhead."
Walking down Devonshire Road, we discussed who we might try and recruit.