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The Barbers at Lincoln and Beresford by Snipped Sam

I was pleased to be getting a new jacket from the smart gent’s outfitters department, at the Lincoln and Beresford’s Store. I felt very grown up with my dad taking me to buy me the jacket. It was a chocolate brown fine needlecord jacket. Quite traditional for 1974, but I really liked it and so did dad.

"Is it for a special occasion?"

The assistant asked to which he was told by dad that it was for a christening.

"It will be perfect, very smart indeed, when is the christening?"

"On Sunday."
I replied, which meant it was three days away, the assistant was folding the jacket and placing it in a smart looking carrier bag.

"All you need now is Dad to take you down to basement, to find our gentleman’s hairdressers."

Dad seemed quite amused at the suggestion, knowing that I liked my hair the length it was and we left the counter with my jacket.

"So, Mark shall we will have a look down in the basement?"

Before I had a chance to reply we were heading towards the descending escalator, and swiftly went from ground to basement. Stepping off the escalator we were in the electrical department, but I soon saw that tucked in the corner was a red and white striped pole. Seems dad had also spotted it.

"No harm in taking a look, should be a smart place."

The entry was through a frosted glass door, beside the door was a price list, which dad studied, he remarked that a haircut was a lot more than he usually paid for me.

"You think Mark, we pay forty-five pence for you at Terry’s and a haircut here is nearly twice that."

"I know but it’s a smart department store."

Part of me was curious as to what a haircut would be like here, the door opened and an older man who was very smartly dressed came out. A man who was obviously one of the barbers had held the door for him.

"May I be of any assistance Sir?"

He asked Dad, who replied that the assistant in the gent’s outfitters had mentioned about there being a gent’s hairdressers and he was just having a look at the prices.The barber who looked immaculate, was in his fifties, smartly dressed in black trousers and shoes, white shirt and grey tie and navy-blue barber’s jacket. His hair was cut very short and sat flat to his head with Brylcreem or something similar with a flawless side parting. A good part of the sides and back had been shaved clean.

"We have spaces free right now Sir, if either of you require our services today."

"It would be Mark’s hair that would be being cut."

I could sense that dad was warming to the idea of having my hair cut, and part of me wanted him to seize the moment and get the job done.

"Very good Sir."

"If I may be honest with you, the price is considerably more than I usually pay for Mark to get his haircut, but I think it would be good for him to experience having his haircut in a smart department store gents’ hairdresser. What I would like though is to get my money’s worth, if you get my drift."

It was now pretty clear that dad intended to have my hair cut and by getting his money’s worth, meant he wanted more hair than usual to be cut off. For the last few months, I had spent a great deal of time thinking about haircuts and admiring shorter haircuts in 1950’s movie books. It had been me who had persuaded dad to let me have my hair longer two or so years ago, but recently I had sometimes wanted him to be a little stricter. Well, if I am honest more than a little strict, like my friend Alastair’s father who was very authoritarian especially when it came to the length of Alastair’s hair.

"I certainly do get your drift Sir, and should myself or Mr Andrews be carrying out such a service, you would be fully consulted and your instructions carried out to the letter with regard to your son’s haircut."

"I would like to be consulted."

Before I knew it, dad’s hand was on my shoulder and I was being guided over the threshold and were standing in the shop. The other barber who I guessed was Mr Andrews was attending to another customer in a cubicle, who I could see over the half door, so it looked like the first barber would be cutting my hair. This was established when he showed me into the cubicle beside it and asked me to take a seat on the barber’s chair. Dad was invited to also come into the cubicle, and the barber pointed out the tip up seat or said he was also welcome to stand. With dad standing there, he took a comb and began to carefully comb my hair.

"Would you like me to introduce a traditional side parting or keep the middle parting Sir?"

"Side parting please."

He smoothly wielded the comb to make the parting on the side of my head, it reminded me a bit of the first-time dad had taken to me to a barber. Previously to that I gone with my mother to a lady’s hairdressers, he had told me before we had arrived that I had to do as the barber said. I hadn’t realised that I was having my hair cut so short and had been afraid of the clippers, but dad had steadied my head so the barber could clip me. My heart was racing wondering what he would dad was going to tell the barber.

"How short would you like me to cut his hair Sir?"

"Now there is a question I wasn’t expecting to be asked today, and I am going to seize the moment and say very short."

"Very good Sir, perhaps short and thin on top, with a traditional tapering for the sides and back."

"Is traditional tapering the same as clipping?"

"Yes Sir, it is exactly that, a more tradional cut, which a number of our father’s favour for their sons."

"Me too, although I suspect that I might be thought of as too old fashioned, in some quarters."

"Not at Lincoln and Beresford, Sir."

The barber took scissors and began to snip at my hair, he and dad chatting away as I sat to attention, as pieces of my hair fell from my head with each snip. This was the haircut I had been yearning for, and I was thrilled that it was being done somewhere really smart like Lincoln and Beresford. The telephone rang and the barber asked to be excused to take the call, and left us for a moment, we could hear him making an appointment. Dad picked a largish piece of my hair of the cape and held it back against my head.

"Doesn’t hurt too much heh Mark?"

"Not too much I suppose."

Dad dropped the piece of hair back on the cape.

"I’ve been wanting this done for a while."

"You never said."

"What was the point, it’s not like Terry would been that willing to do it."

"I guess not."

The barber returned and carried on cutting my hair, before taking some thinning shears and working on my hair on the top of my head with them. He struck me as an excellent barber, very efficient and methodical in the way he cut my hair. I was really enjoying the haircut, and Dad was really glad to be getting my hair cut short. After an extensive thinning out of my hair, the barber put down the shears, and brushed my face and head down.

"I trust you are finding everything satisfactory Sir."

"Very satisfactory thank you."

"And how are you doing young man?"

"I’m alright thanks."

"That’s the ticket, we know this is big haircut for you to be having, but you’re doing really well."

He was adjusting the cape at the back of my neck, and it was now much tighter. He then took a powder blower and soft brush and dusted my neck and above my ears with the powder.

"I remember the first few times that I took Mark to the barbers, he didn’t like the clippers one bit."

"What didn’t you like Mark?"

"They were so noisy, and the barber and Dad didn’t like it because I couldn’t keep my head still."

"I'm sure that they would have seemed a bit noisy if you’ve not come across them before, I take it that as time went on you got used to them."

"In time I did."

"So, they were quite right to persevere with them."

"I suppose they were."

He selected the clippers he would be using on me, they were quite chunky, finished in a brown Bakelite casing, he powered them up and they had a distinctive buzz.

"Just remember Mark, you’re fifteen now and not five and you must cooperate with the barber."

"I know."

I replied, feeling a bit resentful of dad saying this in front of the barber, at this point the barber’s hand landed on the top of my head.

"And down we go."

He said as his hand guided my head right down, I felt the cold metal touch the back of my head, then the smooth firm movement as the clippers began their accent up the back of my head. I could feel the hair falling away and dropping onto my neck. I made a concerted effort to keep my head still, I remembered how hard Dad had come down on me all those years ago. Before I was taken for a haircut, I had to sit on the kitchen stool with my head bent forward like I had it now, and was now allowed to move for ten minutes. Dad used to say that he wouldn’t put up with this nonsense and I had to learn to keep my head still and not show him up.

"As you see, I take the clippers fairly high."

"I am very impressed; in fact, I envisage us making the fifteen-mile journey here once a month for Mark to have his haircut."

"I will give you a card so you can telephone and make an appointment, I would imagine it might be a Saturday"

"That’s right."

It was thanks to a chance remark by the salesman in the gentleman’s outfitters, that I was getting what I secretly wanted. As the clippers purred away, I was enjoying the nice warm feeling that being at the barbers gave me. I could hear some talking and it sounded like Mr Andrews had finished his customer and the gentleman was now leaving. My head was tilted to the side and my barber was taking care of my hair above my ears, eventually this was all taken care of and my head restored to the upright position. Next came some edging with the flat razor, a touch of discomfort but a small price to pay.

"You might want to keep an eye on the hairline area Sir, and use either an electric or wet razor to keep it tidy in between haircuts."

"That’s a good point."

"As you see I have gone well above his hairline but it’s easy enough to keep it looking sharp."

"I’ll certainly do that."

"Now perhaps some dressing on his hair Sir."

"I think so don’t you Mark, finish the haircut off."

"That would be good."

"I think a combination of a touch of hair cream and a little Brilliantine for a nice glossy finish."

"Sounds perfect to me."

The barber first applied the hair cream which he vigorously rubbed into my hair, before dribbling the oil onto my hair then combing the top precisely into place. The back was shown to me in the mirror, there was a good deal of noticeable white skin where the hair had been taken up. The cape was finally removed and I stepped off the chair.

"Perhaps it will be a good idea to make the next appointment, say four weeks’ time for the Saturday morning."

"Very good Sir."

"That will be both of us."

With appointments made for us both to have our haircuts at Lincoln and Beresford, we were both introduced to Mr Andrews the other barber, although Dad made both our appointments with the barber who had just cut my hair.

"Thank you again, for giving Mark such an excellent haircut and I shall look forward to my own Lincoln and Beresford haircut, I just wish that I hadn’t had my hair cut a few days ago."

With that we left and went up the escalator to the ground floor. Dad steered me back into the gentleman’s outfitters and over to the sales assistant, so he could see that my hair had been cut.

"Looks like Dad really put his foot down."

"That’s right."

"Well, it looks very smart indeed young man."

"Not only that, he has his next haircut already booked, so thanks for the suggestion."

"A pleasure Sir."

Dad was more than happy to increase the budget for our haircuts, and my monthly haircut ensured it stayed very short.

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