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The Barber On Devonshire Road-Summer Cut by Snipped Sam

It was a summer BBQ, for another charity fundraiser and Mrs Peterson asked me to help out on the Tombola and another very successful evening for the charity. I noticed that Mr Peterson and my dad chatting away and them both looking over at me. Later Mr Peterson brought me over a coke.

"There Mark, thought you could do with some refreshment."

"Thanks Mr Peterson."

"I was having a good old chat with your dad; he was telling me that you will be doing a lot of swimming in the school holidays."

"Yes, I have a season ticket so I plan to get my money’s worth from it."

"He also told me that he has the last couple of years relaxed the length of your hair during the summer holidays."

"Yes, as long as I had it cut before the start of the new term."

"Of course, I wasn’t your barber then was I Mark?"

"No Sir."

"By the way Mark, are you any further in recruiting someone from school?"

On my second visit to have my haircut, I had gone with Nigel and he had challenged us to bring along another boy to have his haircut. We had both tried unsuccessfully and with us both each having had two further haircuts we had to date failed in our task.

"I did try Sir, one of my friends would come but he only wants a trim."

"Well, that might be a start, tell him he can have a trim if he wants."

"Okay I will."

"Now young Mark, we were talking about my conversation with your dad about your hair with regards to the summer holiday. With all the swimming you are going to be doing, not to mention the diving, your hair needs to be short."

"I thought it was short Sir."

"Yes Mark, the haircut I give you is perfect haircut for school, but dad and I think something shorter for the summer holidays. That would mean one haircut at the beginning then just a trip to see me before you go back to school in September."

The second time he cut my hair when I went with Nigel, he had cut it really short and my two last haircuts had not been so short. He was now firmly established as my barber, as far as my dad was concerned, especially as he knew Mr and Mrs Peterson so well, and this was not negotiable. I had no complaints with this arrangement, secretly liking this stricter approach, especially as dad had sent me to me Peterson on the last occasion.Before I could answer him, someone came over to the tombola and I had to break off to assist them, at the end of the evening I said good goodbye to Mr Peterson.

"Did you enjoy the barbeque, Mark?"

"Yes Mr Peterson, it was very good."

"He is going to one this coming week too, but that’s a barber queue at yours though."

Dad replied which Mr Peterson thought was amusing, nothing further was said until on Wednesday evening dad told me that I was to report to Mr Peterson’s on Friday after school. The next day I told my friend Stephen that I was going to Mr Peterson on the Friday when we finished for the holidays. I had already told him at the beginning of the week that he had said that he could have a trim if he wanted. Friday afternoon he told me that he would be coming with me, he said that his stepfather wanted his hair to be cut before they went on holiday. Stephen said he had hoped to get away with not having anything done during the school holidays.
At the end of the school day, we set off towards Devonshire Road, it seemed to me that Stephen was almost keen to go to Mr Peterson’s. We arrived and Mr Peterson was just putting the finishing touches to a young man’s hair. A short cut but with meaty sideburns, when the cape was removed and he stepped off the chair, he turned out to be a policeman in uniform.

"And who is this, Mark?"

"My friend Stephen, Mr Peterson, who you said could have a trim."

"Hello Stephen, yes I’ll give you a trim if that’s what you want, if you would like to hang your blazer up and come with me to the chair."

As Stephen took off his blazer and went over to the chair, I remembered my first time when he was much firmer saying "this way, Mark". Soon Stephen was caped and having had his hair combed they agreed on half an inch off which Mr Peterson seemed to be sticking to. As I watched my friend having his hair carefully snipped, I wondered exactly what was in store for me. Compared to my first haircut there, I thought he was really pandering to Stephen, I remembered his reply when I said "So you won’t be asking me anything about my hair." It was that he wouldn’t need to as he knew what needed to be done.

Stephen appeared to be quite happy with what Mr Peterson had done but why wouldn’t he, having got the trim he wanted. As he showed him the finished result at the back with the hand-held mirror, he did tell him that perhaps next time, Stephen should lose an inch or so. To which he replied perhaps, which I knew that I wouldn’t get away with saying to him. Stephen had the cape removed and stepped off the chair, having wiped his face with the tissue he went with Mr Peterson to pay for his haircut.

"Are you staying to watch what happens to Mark?"

"I’d like to."

"But I don’t want any jokes or laughing understood."

"Okay, I promise."

Stephen looked over at me and grinned, and walked over to where I was sitting, I stood up ready to be called. As I did this Mr Peterson moved one of the wooden waiting chairs from the side and placed it beside the barber’s chair but facing away from the mirror. He then placed a pad from the boy’s chair on it and patted it.

"On you get Mark."

Having taken off my blazer, I went over and sat on the chair, he soon had the white nylon cape snugly fitted

"Your dad and I agreed that you would have your hair cut really short for the summer. I’ve faced you away from the mirror so I can get the job done smoothly. Now I don’t want you looking over at your friend is that understood?"

"Yes Sir."

I heard Mr Peterson open the drawer, and I was fairly certain he was selecting his hand clippers, he had them in his hand as he walked round to me. My heart was beating fast with the excitement, what was he going to do?

"I hear that your dad has paid out for you to have diving lessons at the swimming pool."

"Yes, that’s right."

"Your instructor has recommended you get your hair cropped, there was a note in the receipt they send your father. But we had already talked about that happening."

It was of no surprise to me to hear what the diving instructor had said, he was a no nonsense, ex-army and his own hair was cropped. Mr Peterson tilted my head back, and started to hand clip my hair on the top of my head, he had a firm grip on the back of my head with his left hand. I thought to myself that my hair didn’t stand a chance, with an overzealous barber, a diving instructor demanding my hair was cropped and dad becoming increasingly strict with me. But not that I wanted things any different, it was going to be thrilling finding out just how short Mr Peterson was going to cut my hair.

I didn’t take him long before he had bent my head forward and had begun shearing the back of my head. He was very adept at operating those hand clippers, I heard him say to Stephen that if he decided he too wanted his hair to be cut the same as mine there would be no extra charge. He thanked Mr Peterson but said that he liked the way he had already cut it. Having also visited the sides of my head, I guessed that I had an even cut all over now. He brushed my face and head down, then I saw him standing at my side with electric clippers in his hand.

Mr Peterson’s electric clippers had a very long cable which was installed in the ceiling, running through a pully device, I had been fascinated by them the first time I saw him use them. He had only ever used his manual hand clippers on me, so this was going to be something completely new. He placed his hand on my head and bent my head right down and holding it firmly he began to clip the left side of my head. The clippers had a really loud shrill, they were much bigger than the clippers I had seen at other gents’ hairdressers. Mr Peterson pressed really hard into my head, working his way around the sides and back of my head.

"You’re sure you don’t want a similar haircut to your friend? I can soon have you done."

"It’s alright thanks."

"No extra charge."

I really wanted Stephen to say yes but I was certain that he wouldn’t, but it was thrilling that he was watching me be clipped. It was also thrilling for me that I would be the last to see the finished haircut, Mr Peterson first as he could see it as it was happening, then Stephen and me last.

"I don’t think so, but I don’t mind having a little bit more off the back if you want to."

"Let me just finish this part of Mark’s haircut, then you can go back in the chair and I can take care of it, Mark won’t mind waiting."

Mr Peterson finished clipping me, then lifted up my head then after brushing my face, he went to the storeroom area behind the curtain. He returned with another cape for Stephen.

"Alright Stephen, if you would like to come and sit back in the chair."

Stephen took his blazer off again and walked back over to the chair, he grinned as he walked past me, I heard the flick of the cape.

"Now young man, when you say a little bit more, what do you mean?"

"Just a little more off."

"You wouldn’t miss an inch, Stephen."

"I think I would Sir, and if you take an inch at the back, I would probably need more off elsewhere."

"You’ll hardly notice, trust me."

"What about Mark, he is still having his haircut?"

"Don’t worry about Mark."

"Go on then, but don’t go too mad."

I could soon hear the snip snip of scissors, and I sat there really curious as to how much of Stephen’s hair Mr Peterson was taking. After a few minutes, my curiosity got the better of me and I turned around just in time to see a sizeable piece of hair fall. It looked like Stephen was losing a lot more hair this time.

"You were told to look that way Mark, no one said that you could turnaround."

Mr Peterson was stern in the way he spoke to me and I quickly turned my head back. This was my fifth haircut from him and he was now firmly established as my barber. With he and his wife being on good terms with my parents, I knew that I was expected to do exactly as he told me, and be on my best behaviour. Any negative reports back would see dad sending me to fetch his slipper, and I knew to my cost that he always made good use of it. He carried on with cutting Stephen’s hair and after some more minutes had passed, I heard him say.

"So, how’s that Young Stephen?"

"It’s shorter than I wanted it but it looks good."

"It does suit you shorter, I’m just going to use the clippers to take off the stray hairs on your neck as I didn’t need to earlier."

I heard him power up the electric clippers, and I could hear them being used to tidy up, the door opened and someone came in the shop. Word was that Mr Peterson sold a good selection of condoms or as we called them rubber Johnny’s and with Mr Peterson going over to the counter the man was there to buy some.

"I can’t believe I’ve had two haircuts." Stephen whispered

"I know, I was surprised when you went back in the chair."

"I panicked a bit when he was using the clippers, after seeing what he did to you."

"Is it bad?"

"Let’s just say you haven’t got much hair left, I thought the hand clippers were short enough, but those electric ones are really mean."

Mr Peterson coughed loudly in a way that said he could hear us talking and to stop. The man left with his purchases and Mr Peterson returned.

"Did I hear you say something about mean? Are you saying I am mean?"

"No, I said the clippers are mean?"

"Have they been mean to you Stephen?"

"Well, no they haven’t been."

I heard the drawer open and a few seconds later I heard Stephen say NO, and then shortly after a really pleading no. I heard Mr Peterson say "Just a little Tickle" and soon after that I could hear the clicking of the blades coming together on the hand clippers and then Mr Peterson sternly telling him to stay still. I really had to see what was happening, even if it incurred Mr Peterson’s wrath, so I turned around. Stephen’s barber had hold of his head and was holding it down, and large pieces of hair were falling away as he ruthlessly clipped the back of his head.I was pleased that he was getting his hair cut so short, but felt sorry for him, because unlike me I don’t think that’s what wanted. When he clipped me the first time I had said "Not too much though please." but totally accepted it.

"Mark, I can see you in the mirror."

I quickly turned my head back around, and he continued to clip Stephen, who was making woeful sounds. Some minutes later Stephen walked past me with the sides and back of his head closely shorn and his hair now Brylcreemed. As Stephen put his blazer back on and sat down with a face like thunder, I thought so much for the trim you thought you would be getting. Of course, it wouldn’t bother Mr Peterson in the least if Stephen never came back for another haircut, he had a haircut that he would probably never forget.

Mr Peterson turned his attention back to me wasting no time in apply shaving soap to my hairline and above my ears, it was cold. He began to shave the sides and back with his flat razor, he held my head firmly with his spare hand to position me. Having completed the task to his satisfaction, after wiping my head with towel, he produced a small chrome sprayer. Soon a fine mist of strong-smelling liquid was covering my head, it began to sting a little so I imagined it was some sort of antiseptic. Mr Peterson loosened the cape at the back and then began to powder my neck, pulling back my shirt collar to send a load down my back.

When I came off the chair, and turned to look in the mirror, I just had a small amount of hair on top, with bare sides and no visible hair at the back. Stephen and I left to start the summer holidays, my return to Mr Peterson’s chair in early September was guaranteed but I was not so sure about Stephen.

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