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My New Barber by Snipped Sam


“There’s no going back" … I thought as I put my hand on the door handle and pushed the door forward and went in the barber’s shop with more than a little trepidation.

“So, you did come back."

The barber said jovially but with some surprise

“Yes, I did say I would, it’s just I hate waiting a long time to have my haircut."

The truth was I had been looking for somewhere else to have my haircut, but had strangely been drawn back to this particularly old-fashioned barber. No other hairdressers on that foggy October afternoon had really appealed to me. I rather liked the idea of an older man cutting my hair, even though part of me was questioning if this was a good idea. But as this was my second time there that afternoon, I was obliged to follow through with the haircut.

“Well, this time there isn’t a wait, so hang your coat up and we’ll get you in the chair."

He had been counting some money out, but as I was hanging up my coat, he closed the drawer of his till. I would have imagined that he was in his late fifties, he seemed nice enough, if a bit direct. I followed him to the barber’s chair.

“Take a seat."

He said quite firmly, and I sat down on the brown leather chair, which had a wooden framework and wooden armrests, he soon had the navy-blue nylon cape around me and it was tucked into the collar of my shirt, with a tissue fitted into the back of my collar.

“No need to look so worried."

“No, I suppose not."

I replied, thinking my slight apprehension must be showing. Although it was the 1970’s my hair was not in the least bit long, it had not grown over my ears and barely touched my collar. I was not allowed to have my hair as long most of the other boys at school, it wasn't an option, so I had to accept it.
I just didnt want a really bad haircut or a scalping and a new unknown barber was a gamble, but one I was taking.

“I would imagine this is the half term haircut, ready to go back next week, looking smart."

“That’s right, just a tidy up please, and can you leave the sides."

He now had hold of the comb and he combed each of my sideboards, then boldly combed my hair, before picking up the scissors.

“We’ll see how we go young man."

“But I’d really like the sides to stay as they are."

“Let’s see how we go."

I lived in a town where most of the gents’ hairdressers were in their thirties and had an easy-going approach. This barber was slightly out of town, and seemed less than easy-going, but I was in his chair now, and there was to be no changing my mind. As he started to snip the hair on the back of my head, I decided it was best not to mention my sideboards again.

“So how often do you have a haircut?"

“About once a month."

“That’s good, who decides that it needs cutting?"

“My dad always tells me, but I usually know that I will be getting a haircut before long."

“I think I am right in saying that you haven’t been here before today?"

“That’s right, I thought I would try somewhere different."

“Not happy with your usual barber or perhaps dad isn’t?"

“No, not really unhappy."

“So just a change."

“That’s right, although I don’t think dad is always that happy with my usual barber."

“Why is that?"

“Oh, he just isn’t."

“Not short enough for his liking."

“Mmm."

“Was that a yes?"

“Not always, I suppose."

I realised that might not have been the best thing to say to him about dad not being too happy about the other barbers.
As he chatted, he was working his way over my head, snipping away, the conversation continued till he put the scissors down. After a brushing down with a soft haired brush, he adjusted the cape at the back of my neck.

“That’s not too tight, I hope?"

“No."

“Good lad."

He removed some black Bakelite clippers from the shelf in front of the chair, as he turned around, he winked at me, before standing behind me and bending my head really forward. The clippers were switched on and I felt him lift my hair with the comb and the clippers run over them. I realised that he was concentrating on the right side of my head, and I could feel hair falling onto my neck.

“Keep your head nice and still for me there’s a good lad."

I thought that I was keeping still, but wasn’t able to really say anything with my head down. He carried on and then worked on the left side of my head. After a few minutes the comb was lifting hair just above my ears and the clippers running over the comb, taking the hair with them. Eventually the clippers were returned to the shelf and there followed a big brushing down of my head which had been lifted up, and lots of loose hairs fell away. I noticed that my sideboards were still there, but realised that I wasn’t out of the woods just yet. He removed a razor from it sheath, then bent my head forward and shaved my neck. Once he had put the razor down, he combed my hair and smoothed it down on top. Standing behind me, he took hold of each of my sideboards and gave them a tug, he then patted me on the head.

“Sorry old son."

He said as he reached over and picked up some long-pointed scissors, I knew as much as I loved them, that my sideboards did look out of proportion with the rest of my hair, now it had been cut. He moved the scissors in and slid them underneath my left sideboard, then with one snip they were practically gone, just a little stump of a sideboard remaining, to be followed by the same for the other one. He then took some noisy little battery-operated clippers, and tidied up the area.

“Like to see how I’ve done the back?"

“Please."

He held the mirror and I could see that he had tapered the back in a very old-fashioned style, the hair was really short either side of a very pointed DA (ducks arse finish). I had seen this style on a couple of boys at school. I quite liked what he had done, it actually wouldn’t have surprised me if he would have clipper shaved the back and sides really short. But this was not quite as short as that particular haircut, I thanked him. He remarked that these days not many barbers did such a specialised finish to a boy’s haircut.

“Something on your hair?"

“That would be nice."

“Perhaps some dressing."

He said picking up a clear jar with some white dressing in it, and soon a big dollop was applied and combed into my hair. I realised that my haircut was much more of a 1950’s boy’s haircut, but I really liked his approach and what he had done. He loosened the cape at the back, and gave me a generous dusting with powder. I was soon off the chair and paying for my haircut, he said that he hoped to cut my hair again. My reply was that I thought it was highly likely and I said that next time even if there was a queue, I would wait my turn.

My father had a system where he always liked to inspect my haircut before handing over the money I had paid out for my haircut.

“A bit shorter than usual Tim."

“Yes, I went to a different place this time."

“He’s done a good job."

He happily handed over the money, and a month later instead of the usual;

“You need a haircut Tim."

It was;

“You need to go and see that new barber of yours."

From then on, he took care of all my haircuts, it pleased him that dad liked the way he cut my hair and as time went on, I never thought about going anywhere else.




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