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Getting As Far As The Chair by Snipped Sam
I had never got as far a sitting in Mr Simmons barber’s chair, but had been fascinated by his barber’s shop for quite a while. The first time I went in there was to ask for directions, after that twice I had set off there to have my haircut but changed my mind. Then once actually gone in and sat down to wait, but chickened out of having my haircut and left abruptly.
I was helping our neighbour Mrs Fairchild deliver some collection boxes for a charity, she parked her car on the road his shop was on. She had complained to my parents about me playing my music too loud, and I was sort of doing community service as a penance which meant helping her one afternoon.
"We have three shops, why don’t you drop off the boxes to Mrs Raines the newsagents and Mr Simmons is just along."
So, I went to Mrs Raines first which took no time, when I got to Mr Simmons, he told me that he wouldn’t keep me a moment, so I had to wait while he finished off a customer. The customer was soon finished and had paid for his haircut, so Mr Simmons was able to take the collection box and stickers from me.
"Aren’t you the young man who said he was coming back to see me the next day to have his haircut but you never did?"
"I'm afraid So."
"It’s alright son, it’s a free country, but what made you change your mind?"
"I panicked because you were cutting a boy’s hair really short and I was next."
The door opened and Mrs Fairchild was standing there.
"Is everything alright with the box."
"Of yes Mrs Fairchild, safely delivered, the lad and I were just having a bit of a chat."
"I just wanted to check you were happy with the box, don’t let me interrupt your chat."
"I think we had almost finished hadn’t we lad?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Remember you are always welcome to come here and have a haircut."
Mrs Fairchild and I left to carry on with the deliveries as we drove away, she remarked.
"I take it Mr Simmons isn’t your barber, Michael."
"No, he’s never cut my hair."
"Seems a nice chap."
"Yes, I think he is, he nearly cut my hair once but I chickened out."
"So, you must have thought about going there then."
"I did, but I left before my turn."
I wondered why I had just told her that, but I had. Mrs Fairchild then pulled up outside the next place and we took in the delivery and then we carried on with the drop offs until we had finished. We were driving back when Mrs Fairchild turned into the road Mr Simmons was on.
"I wanted to get a few bits of shopping Michael so I thought we could park here."
We got out of the car, and we had to walk past Mr Simmons, just as we did a man came out of Mr Simmons shop with a boy a bit younger than me, his hair had been cut very short.
"I thought that was a very smart haircut didn’t you Michael?"
"Yes, but it was very short."
"Nothing wrong with that Michael, a nice haircut like that would suit you."
But we carried on walking and went to the greengrocers and then the hardware store and returned back to the car, as we almost reached the barbers Mrs Fairchild said to me.
"We could see how busy Mr Simmons is Michael."
"I would prefer not to."
I replied, but as we walked past, Mrs Fairchild looked over the curtained window
"I think there is just someone in the chair, I’m not in a hurry to get home if you want to get your haircut."
"I suppose part of me does and part of me thinks it’s a bad idea."
"Why would it be a bad idea?"
"I think Mr Simmons is very strict and It could end up very short."
"There’s nothing wrong with being strict Michael, and as I said, a nice haircut like that boy had would suit you, and I think that you to some extent you agree with me."
"I suppose to some extent I do."
"As it looks like he isn’t busy I can wait in the car, or I can come in with you to see that this time you get as far as the chair."
"Might be an idea if you came in with me."
The next thing Mrs Fairchild and I were walking towards the door, then suddenly I froze.
"I don’t want to go in there."
"Too late for that Michael, you’re going to have a haircut."
I felt Mrs Fairchild’s hand on my shoulder, as she pushed the door and I went in.
We both said hello, and Mrs Fairchild suggested that I sat in the chair furthest from the door. It was an elderly man in the chair having the sides and back of his white haircut, he was bald on top. As his haircut drew to its end, I was a bit fidgety.
"You’ll be fine once you’re in the chair."
She whispered, and I knew that if I had been on my own, I would have bolted, the man came off the chair, and Mrs Fairchild kept me talking the whole time to keep me distracted. I heard the door close and the barber returned to the chair, he had hold of the navy-blue cape, Mrs Fairchild smiled and said good luck. I walked bravely to the barber’s chair and sat down; it took seconds for me to be caped.
"I wasn’t expecting you to be in my chair this afternoon, young man."
"Mrs Fairchild sort of persuaded me."
He began combing my hair.
"It’s fair to say that Michael was in two minds about having his haircut, but I’m pleased to say he decided that a haircut was a good idea."
"Sounds to me like you helped him to make his decision."
"He had told me earlier that he did once come to you to have his haircut, but didn’t quite go through with it, you could say that I’m here to see that he gets to the finishing post this time."
It was quite exciting having Mrs Fairchild there, not only would this ensure that I remained in the chair for my haircut, I also liked the idea that she was going to watch me have my haircut.
"So, will I be liaising with you about the haircut or Michael?"
"As I am here, I may as well have the final say about what gets done."
"Well, I was going to recommend a short back and sides."
"Let’s go with that Mr Simmons."
"Very good mam."
Taking a pair of long steel scissors, he started to cut my hair, soon large pieces of my hair were falling onto the cape. I sat in the chair looking directly forward, I knew what was required of me, I had completely surrendered.
"It’s been a while since I watched a barber at work, not since I took my son Peter for his haircuts, there’s something very soothing about hearing the snip-snip of scissors. Of course, having two daughters and one son, my husband and I were very strict on the length of Peter’s hair. Whilst they had pigtails and plaits, he didn’t understand why he was always getting taken to the barbers and came back really shorn."
"I have heard that said, there has been more than one boy protest when he has come with a parent and also a sister. Asking why isn’t she having her haircut, some have got themselves really upset."
"Of course, the answer to them is boys are meant to look like boys."
Mr Simmons tapped me on the shoulder and remarked;
"Are You hearing this Michael?"
"This time you’re leaving here with a proper boy’s haircut Michael, and you won’t be leaving the chair until I am satisfied with the haircut."
"Yes Mrs Fairchild."
It was now very clear that Mrs Fairchild could be very strict when required, he carried on snipping away. Then after coming my hair forward, it was snip-snip then another snip-snip the brushing hair fallen hair from my face, and exaggerating the brushing of my nose. He then combed the side parting and then asked Mrs Fairchild about the front.
"Is the front short enough for you Mrs Fairchild?"
"Let’s have a closer look."
Mrs Fairchild stood up and came over to the chair, I sat to attention as she looked at the front, the barber then combed my hair forward again.
"I think we’ll have a bit more off."
The barber placed the long scissors against my fringe
"How about here mam?"
"That’s better, but maybe a smidgen higher."
She stood there as he snipped along my fringe, then he combed the side parting back
The barber was fairly old school where he traditionally would leave a boy’s hair longer on top but blitz the sides and back with the clippers. He brushed my face down whilst Mrs Fairchild returned to her seat. The cape at the back was adjusted, before my head was lowered down as far as it would go. I could feel the blood circulating in my ears caused by the anticipation of my impending clipping. I’d seen the haircut of the boy earlier who was leaving the shop, he was all clipped, just like I was about to be. That was exactly the haircut that Mrs Fairchild liked and I remembered her words that I wouldn’t be leaving the chair until she was satisfied with my haircut.
Even though my head was down, I saw the electric cable move and I knew he had hold of the clippers, his hand steadied my head and he said "stay nice and still for me old son" just before the power surged through the clippers. The clippers had a loud buzzy hum, the blade touched the back of my head, and the clipping began. He took them smoothly up the back of my head, all you could hear was the clippers at work, I knew that Mrs Fairchild would be watching the whole procedure. Knowing what was required from me, I kept my head completely still. Of course, I was curious to see what was happening, but that was not an option, the fact it was my hair was of no consequence. My role was to fully cooperate and accept that the barber and Mrs Fairchild knew what was best for me.
"You’re doing a great job."
"Really suits him doesn’t it, mam?"
"Indeed, it does, I’ve known Michael for a number of years, once upon a time his hair was always nice and short, then it started to get longer and unfortunately his hair has become unacceptably long of late."
"Of course, if he was to come here regularly, I could keep his hair short."
"That unfortunately is not down to me, but I will be having a little chat with his father."
As he repositioned my head to tackle above my right ear, I imagined Mrs Fairchild’s chat with my father and soon he was stripping away the hair above my ear, to be identically matched the other side. Finally, the clippers were returned to the usual place and a vigorous brushing down of my head took place. Once this had been completed, he wet a small length of cotton wool which he took from the chrome dispenser and dampened my hairline and close by my ears. Opening out the flat razor he shaved the dampened areas then after wiping the blade, he visited the hair which remained on the top of my head, saying that he would just slightly thin it down. The razor tugged a bit as he worked away, having finally put the razor away, he took two hair brushes with handles and with one in each hand brushed my hair vigorously to remove any loose hairs which may have remained.
"Is this short enough for you Mam?"
Mrs Fairchild stood up and walked towards the barber’s chair where I sat, she gave my haircut a full inspection.
"What do you think Michael, is this short enough?"
"Yes, its short enough."
"I’m not so sure."
She replied looking very serious, and I asked myself just how short she wanted it.
"Only kidding Michael."
She said jokingly, then turned to the barber and told him that it was perfect.
"Any dressing on his hair Mam?"
"Brylcreem or a pomade or perhaps some hairspray."
"I think some Brylcreem."
He took the lid of a tub of Brylcreem and took a large dollop and rubbed in into my hair, then combed my hair giving me a severe side parting.
"A great transformation Mr Simmons."
"Thank you, Mrs Fairchild."
"I take it you have enough money to pay for your haircut Michael."
"Yes Mrs Fairchild."
Mrs Fairchild stood there as the cape was being removed from me, I stepped off the chair wiping my neck with the tissue he had given me. I then handed over the money for my haircut and he gave me some change, he picked up a large clothes brush and brushed my shoulders with it. Having said our goodbyes, we left and walked back to the car. Once we started the journey home Mrs Fairchild said that she hoped that having reflected on the matter, I would realise that Mr Simmons was the man for the job as far as getting my haircut was concerned. I could certainly see why Mrs Fairchild would think he was the man for the job, the question was, would she persuade my father that he was the man for the job?