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My Unbelievable fortune by My barbershop memories
This happened around 1975 UK barbershop one Saturday morning,I found myself walking into the barbershop for my usual trim usually about once every 8 to 10 weeks , I sat down next three boys sitting with what looked like their father, two of the boys hair was very Short already like a slightly grown Out Boys crew cut The Third boys hair however was very different and quite long reaching almost down to his collar. A bit of info. The barber shop had five chairs and spanned three generations of barbers, grandfather, father, son, and a barbarette, the wife/ mother of son plus one employee, on my previous haircut here I had watched in amazement as a boy with a similar short hairstyle to the two boys now in the barber shop being given the best haircut I had ever witnessed, and all done using just thinning shears a cut-throat razor and comb, being given by the grandfather now semi-retired he only worked Saturdays and only cut by appointment offering budget priced haircuts to boys,
sons grandsons from poorer lower-income families he had come to know over the years,at 14 years old I had realised, there was something fascinating about watching a boy getting a short haircut especially if the haircut was being cut against his will,the boy previously had caught my attention because his hair was already very short, the Old barber walked to his chair and picked up the barbers Cape hanging over chair, he looked over at the boy and just simply nodded his head at which point the boy stood up walked to his chair and sat in it I watched intently and listened the Old barber then fastened his cape around the boys neck applying a tissue he picked a comb out of his pocket and a pair of what I knew to be thinning shears and started to thin the top of the boys hair I thought to myself I must have missed him asking the boy what he wanted neither of them seemed to say anything, he didn't use thinning shears in the conventional way because the boys hair was already too short on top he held them at an angle at the back of the boys head then slid them forward snipping away as they moved forward holding them tight against his head he did this over and over again and also all around the Top and down the sides about 1 inch down he then vigorously rubbed something into the Boys back and sides he then sharpened a straight razor on an oily stone and then rapidly on on belt hanging from the bench in front of him then holding the boys head to one side he shaved a perfect straight line from the boys temple all the way around across the back to the other side of his temple as I watching a few things fascinated me firstly the boy never once looked too unhappy about the extreme haircut he was getting secondly was the old barbers precise but very careful and caring manner and lastly the extreme shortness of the haircut he was now shaved completely bald a good one and a half inches above the top of his ear the perfection and straightness of the line amazed me then using a comb a very thin comb that tapered too almost nothing he then began blending and and fading the line using the straight razor scraping
it over the comb. He repeatedly went razor over comb across the top and sides the Boys blonde hair had been bleached almost White by the sun with it been the end of July , the top had been cut less than a centimetre long and severely thinned out with the thinning shears and the graduation from bald skin to hair all around the back and sides was perfection when I first saw the boy and how short is hair was before the start of the cut I assumed his cut occurred every 2 weeks or so but now due to the extreme shortness it was probably cut about every 8 weeks the result of which was a distinct contrast between his tanned neck and face and the the much paler shaved back and sides making the extreme shortness of his hair more apparent the barber un caped him then showed him the back and sides with the hand mirror saying is that OK for you, the boy nodded saying thankyou sir,I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed ,since that day 8 weeks ago I had tried to find out everything I could about the old barber,i found out facts like, "he always makes sure that the parents or parent of a particular boy got their money's worth, another thing I learned about him and the reason I had spent the last 4 Saturday mornings spying on the barber shop and what what made a second haircut in 4 weeks worth it was his ideas on how Boys should be treat and detested the current 70s long hair fashion and had a real dislike for boy's who disrespected
their parents wishes and an even greater dislike for a boys who actually preferred and wanted long hair. as for a misbehaved disrespectful boy i had also found out the reason I didn't hear him ask the boy how he wanted his hair cuting or hear the boy answer you see all the parent's who sent there son's to him for a haircut knew he could be relied on to cut there boys hair severely short,so to be sure that the boy also wanted his haircuting if we remember that he rated boys on principle shortest equaled smartest =most respectable, so their was a simple test, the boy was allowed a choice, when the barber looked at him and the boy looked back and nodded, the old barber chose the boy had no say whatsoever or the boy could actually tell the barber how long or short he wanted it, he had one or two of his favourite boys who would ask for severely extreme in its shortness ,and then their was a very special treat for any boy or boys who introduced a new boy especially if he had long hair, they could encourage him or try converting him the Old barber saw this as rescuing a boy even trickery and deceit when encouraged, if it resulted in a boy going from a long to short haircut, I had got friendly with the two brothers (twins),at school the severity of their short haircuts fascinated me, asking them all about their father and their haircuts, if he was very strict with them as I had also noticed how smart they always looked in their school uniforms, hardly any boys even wore the school uniform, they told me that it was their choice and how they liked to look smart and enjoyed their severe haircut Saturdays as they knew it pleased their father, they tried to talk me into getting a short haircut with them and how the first haircut was free, Part of Me wanted to, I often found myself making up up various scenarios of me having to get a short haircut but i just didn't have the bottle, they told me that if they introduced a boy to the old barber or his daughter and and a haircut resulted, they would be rewarded, I had noticed a boy year below us, who I suggested as a candidate as I had noticed he also wore full school uniform my thinking being that he might be more obedient and suggested the two brothers went about befriending him, when his father met his two new friends his father remarked on how smart the boys haircuts looked, they told his dad about the free haircut and how their dad would be happy to take him on Saturday morning, his dad had agreed on his son's hair being cut shorter for the start of the summer holidays but had insisted on no clippers on account of the boys mothers preference for longer hair so it was all set up, and a plan had been hatched, I have to mention now that the barberette was the Old Man's daughter her husband was his son-in-law she loved to trick or manipulate boys into having very short back and sides haircuts, better still when a strict parent had insisted she shave their son's head as punishment for poor school grades. her favourite thing of all was giving a boy with a fear of haircuts, saying things like, please not the clippers, and please Miss not too short, tightly caped in her chair,head down boy get your head right down, chin to chest and then with a more powerful and louder set of clippers stripping his back and sides right down to the bare skin if she felt the boy tremble or start to cry or or noticed any tears starting she would press the clippers so hard driving them higher up his neck up to the top of his listening to him sob uncontrollably was
her ultimate goal .when the two boys had called around the younger boys house wearing their school uniform they told the father that the barber was a bit old fashioned and like to see boys looking smart, so his father had made him get changed into his uniform, when they go back to their house to meet up with their father, he told him to get changed as their uniforms needed washing I sat next to the boy, who was now definitely look a little nervous and self-conscious, the barber gave one of the twins the look instead of nodding, the boy stood up and said please sir can I have a short summer cut, shaved smooth with the Razor, hop in the chair the barber never answered him, then turning his attention to the boy, the barber ask the twins father so is this your young niece you were telling me about, the farther laughed a little and said no this is Peter it's Barnabas and Matthews friend from School, I hope he's here for a decent haircut turning to Peter, the twins father asked, would you like Mr Hamilton to give you a nice short respectable boys haircut, no sir I don't like having my haircut short, while this conversation was going on the old barber had caped Matthew ready for his haircut, shaved smooth with the Razor are you sure, yes sir I love the way it feels when I rub my hands on it very well. to save save some time I'll open blade you with the clippers first, thank you sir what about Barnabas what are you having, a short summer cut please sir razored smooth just like my brother please, very well then Mr Hamilton turned to his daughter, who used her maiden name at work, she had just finished a boys haircut, and even though the back rested on his collar, she had still used the clippers with no guard to shave his neck underneath his hair at the back of his head, 70s long hair fashion now meant she rarely got the chance to give a boy a headshave or haircut with the clippers, Elizabeth can you open blade Barnabas for me to save me a little time ok Dad but you know I don't like to go too short with a boys haircut. The game had begun the pressure on Peter started again this time Mr Hamilton tell me Peter do you like looking like a girl with hair like that, no, tell me Peter, when you answer a teacher what do you say would you say, no, or no Sir, Peter answered, well be good enough to show me some respect when you answer me, is that clear, yes sir, sorry, sorry what, sorry sir, people thinking you're a girl must happened to you all the time so you must like it, no sir ,the opposite of liking it, is not liking it, which would mean it bothered you, and you would do something about it, is he actually having his haircut today, if he's not I don't want him leaving through the front door, anyone passing might think we've cut his hair, and I'm not having that, no Mr Hamilton, his Dad has said he wants it cutting short, for the summer, but no clippers, the Appleby's father then added, his mother likes boys with long hair, however, I know his father want 's it short, old Mr Hamilton then asked Peter directly, tell me Peter do you remember how short Matthew and Barnabas's hair was after I cut it, it was about 8 weeks ago tell me do remember, yes sir, well that was a decent boys short summer cut and I never used the clippers, so is that how you want me to cut it for you, no not like that, not that short, I've never met a boy who wanted to look like a girl and had no manners, or respect, now listen very carefully, I am going to ask you one more time ,and I want some respect showing, I can't believe I'm still going to give you a choice, if you don't answer me respectfully, you won't have a choice, I will put you in this chair, and I will cut your hair as I see fit, now boy with respect, do you want a haircut from me, for the summer, or my daughter Elizabeth, sir, please may I have my haircut, from Elizabeth, please, sir thank you, Elizabeth had now finished Elizabeth had now finished shaving Barnabas with the clippers, she had done her best to make it look like she wasn't enjoying it, come on then Peter hop of here she said as she put the padded board seat across the arms of the chair, caringly she caped him and gently put the tissue down his neck, now both Matthew and Barnabas had asked for their hair cut short summer or short summer cuts adding shaved smooth with razor, then Elizabeth said quietly, you seem very nervous, is it because your father wants your hair cut short for summer, yes, but no clippers he reminded her, listen Peter she said quietly to him, I'm not like my dad, and I don't always do What Boys Mum's and Dad's say, now your dad has said short for summer, no clippers, would you like me to leave your hair a little bit longer than your dad has asked for, he smiled at her feeling more relaxed, yes please Miss, tell you what Peter, let's turn you away from the mirror, stop you being so nervous, then it will be a nice surprise for you when I'm finished ok, I was now almost on the edge of my seat as the whole wicked game had come together, what he had agreed to was a short for summer cut, in that barbershop that meant razor shave, or clipper shave, he had twice reminded her, no clippers, but, not with clippers as his dad had said, meant razored, but as she promised him, she would not cut it as short as his dad wanted, therefore because no clippers meant using a razor, ignoring his dad, meant using clippers to shave him with, because leaving it longer for him not short like his dad has asked for, meant not shaving him smooth with the Razor, so by allowing him slightly longer hair, shaving his head with electric clippers, not a razor, turning him away from the mirror, and asking him nicely to put his head right down, had her hands and legs
quivering with excitement. Gripping his head tightly, forcing it right down, then turning the clippers on, and in a flash ran them right up the back of his neck, to the top of his head aaghh she held him so tightly she went up with the clippers 4 to a 5 time before he managed to struggle free, what's the matter Peter,I haven't used the razor, like your dad wanted. Short for summer is a head shave haircut, it can only be done with either a razor, or clippers. Again No clippers means razored, but I said you could have it longer, so I let you have the clippers. When my dad said not with clippers meant scissors, short means above my collar, he bleated out ooh dear, Peter, I'm so sorry, I misunderstood ,but I can't leave it like that, I will have to do it all with the clippers, and I for the first time suggested something, excuse me I said politely, you could leave the top a little longer, and just clippershave the back and sides, would you prefer that Peter, yes he just managed to say, as he was starting to cry, ok then ,I'm really so sorry Peter, so to help you I'm going to hold your head very tightly as I finish the sides and back off, she then swapped the very quiet clippers for the loud powerful ones she preferred, I just sat watching intensely revelling at the shocked grimaces he was making, and looking at her, as she smiled and winked at me, at one point she held her head back and her eyes rolled back in ecstasy, the back and sides he was open bladed way up high, she then pumped up the chair a little more ok now Peter try not to cry I'm going to cut the top now so I'll put a guard on the clippers so it's not too short starting with a number 4 she made him sit right back holding his chin with her hand and firmly she pulled his head back so it rested against her stomach and ran clippers backwards until the whole top was completely buzzed then using guards one two and three completed blending the sides and took that number one guard high over the back of his crown he reminded me of a 1950s American kid with a severe high and tight haircut ok just keep nice and still while I tidy the back and side with the Razor she soaped up the back and sides and shaved him well above his ears all the way around his head his skin was so white it looked amazing she un caped him and turned him round to face the mirror for the first time showing him the back in the mirror what do you think then Peter the back and side short enough or wood you like them to take them up no he moaned what did you say show me a little matters as well a little bit higher