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The CCB -1- The Introduction by Snipped Sam

When I had first joined the history group it had been out of a keen interest for the local town where I lived in. They met once a month on a Wednesday evening. Provided I had finished all my homework, I was allowed to go, and at fifteen I was the youngest member. One evening there was a talk on the town wall by one of the members, at the end of the evening I thanked him for the talk. He chatted to me for a few minutes, and I said that I didn’t realise part of the old wall was in the south part of the town, he said I should go and take a look at it sometime.

"The best way to see it is to head up Mill Road, it’s just at the end."

"Thanks, I will do that."

"I’m just around the corner in Swan Lane, pop your head around the door and say hello, I’ve got the barbers, you’ll won’t miss the red and white pole."

"I might well do that."

I replied enthusiastically, the group met once a month, and it was two weeks after that meeting during the school half term holiday that I decided to look at that part of the wall. It really wasn’t any different from any other part of the wall, but at least I had looked. I thought I would just drop in and say hello to Mr Smith, and easily found Swan Lane and noticed his static barber’s pole. He was standing inside the shop talking to a man, I intended to just put my head through the door and say hello, but he said to come in and close the door to keep the heat in. It was quite a chilly February day, he introduced me as Julian, the youngest member of our historical society. Mr Smith was always smartly dressed and that day was no different, but instead of his usual smart sports jacket, he was wearing a long navy-blue coloured barber’s coat. He then asked me what I thought of the wall, and we spoke about it. The man then said that he would leave us.

"Nice to meet you Julian, you’re in good hands young man, Reg is a very good barber."

"I’ve only popped in to say hello."

"Aren’t you going to a haircut now you’re here, you should ask him for the CCB."

Mr Smith chuckled as the man left, and I felt a bit awkward.

"I bet you’re wondering what the CCB is."

"Yes, I haven’t ever heard of that."

"It’s cut, clipped and Brylcreemed."

"Oh, I see."

I replied, feeling a little uneasy with talk about a haircut.

"That’s just a term we use here for a traditional gent’s haircut, have you ever had Brylcreem on your hair?"

"Not that I can remember."

"You don’t know what you’ve missed."

"But of course, I have heard of it."

"I’m sure you have, and I’ve noticed that your hair always looks neat and tidy."

"Yes, I’d actually like my hair to cover my ears and be a longer at the back, but my dad won’t let me."

"He keeps your hair in check then?"

"You could say that, he’s pretty strict about it."

"Of course, I’m with your father all the way, on that one."

"I thought you might be, anyway I had better not hold you up."

"Oh, I’m not busy this afternoon Julian as you can see, it was certainly busier this morning though, but I’m sure you want to be on your way. Will you be coming to the next meeting? It’s a talk for the twentieth anniversary of the 1953 Coronation celebrations."

"Yes, I’ll be there…It should be interesting."

I really liked Mr Smith, he had welcomed me when I first went to the historical society with my neighbour, who had first got me interested in going to the meetings. I knew that he was in his early sixties, which at fifteen to me seemed old, I had never had anyone of that age cut my hair. I imagined that as nice as Mr Smith was, as a barber he might be quite strict.

"So where are you off to now?"

"Nowhere really, I’ll probably head back home."

"Or you could stay for a haircut."

I looked over at the barber’s chair, the white cape was neatly folded resting over the back ready for the next customer. I had been going to Brian’s Gents Hairdressing to have my haircut forever. Maybe it was time for a change and to find out what Mr Smith was like as a barber.

"I usually do have my haircut at half term."

It did occur to me, that I should be trying to establish what sort of haircut he had in mind.

"As I know you from the historical society, I will give you your first haircut free of charge, then any haircuts after that will be paid for."

"That’s very nice of you Mr Smith."

"Take your coat off Julian, and let’s get you in the barber’s chair."

It looked like the decision had been made, so I took off my parka and hung it up on the coat stand, I was wearing a round neck jumper that day.

"You’re not wearing a shirt, Julian?"

"No." I replied as we walked to the chair.

"That’s alright, I have a detachable collar which you can wear, then the covering will sit nice and snug."

We stopped at the chair, and I glanced towards him, and he nodded for me to sit down. I sat down on the well-worn brown leather padded seat. He opened one of the drawers and took out a detachable collar, he then handed it to me I noticed the stud.

"Do you know how this works?"

"I think so."

I replied as I fitted it around my neck, and place the stud in the hole, at this point he was unfolding the cape.Then once my hands were out of the way having now fitted the collar, he placed the cape in position, tucking it into the collar at the back. Next, he took a thin white cotton towel which was more like a napkin in texture and tucked it into the back, with the remaining part resting on my shoulders.

"All ready to have your haircut."

He said jovially as he combed my hair, combing my hair at the front forward.

"Too late to change my mind now."

"It certainly is, but I hope you wouldn’t want to anyway Julian?"

"No, I don’t think so."

"Jolly good, now all you have to do is sit there and I’ll take care of your haircut."

He chose his scissors from the line up on the counter in front of the chair, and soon he was snipping away, and we were chatting away as he cut. He was telling me a bit more about the town wall, and I noticed that the hair that my hair was looking quite a lot shorter than it usually did when I had it cut. He recombed my hair at the front, then told me to close my eyes. I felt the scissors being positioned, they seemed high up, I hear a snip as the blades came together, and my hair tumbled onto my face, another firm snip, and more hair dropped. Then I felt the scissors placed the other side of my head, and he did the same thing, after that a felt a soft brush sweeping across my face.

"You can open your eyes again Julian."

When I did, I saw just how short he had cut my fringe, "Blimey" I exclaimed, and he said that it was a bit shorter than perhaps I was used to. He rested his left hand on the top of my head, and just chatted away to me. I would realise after, that whilst he had been talking away, he had been gradually bending my head forwards, in fact he had me so distracted that I did not notice him take hold of his clippers. Before I knew it the clippers were powered up, and I realised that he had a firm hold of my head. The clippers touched the back of my head and started to go up, "Oh no" I exclaimed, because whilst my hair was always cut short, it had been nearly two years since I had been clipped like this.

"I didn’t think you’d be too keen on this bit."

"I’m not."

"It’s going to look so smart, and I’m sure that you’ll soon get used to it."

"Nobody in my year at school has their hair this short."

"You shouldn’t worry about what haircuts the other boys have Julian."

"But they will laugh at me."

It was very hard to talk with my head bent down, especially as his hand held it firmly in place.

"That’s boys for you Julian, but what can you do? You need this haircut."

My hair had been cut, now I was being clipped, what was the betting he would insist on using Brylcreem? It wasn’t long before my head had been tilted to the side and he was clipping above my ears. Finally, the clippers were back and my head was brushed free of loose hair and just leaving the short little hairs. He picked up the flat razor and opened the sheath, then began shaving my neck and after that above my ears. He then wiped my neck with the towel that was tucked in at the back.

"Now a nice dollop of Brylcreem and you will have the perfect CCB."

"If I have to."

As he took hold of the pot of Brylcreem and took the lid off it, I could see that he was not impressed by my attitude.

"The Brylcreem will add the perfect finish to your haircut."

He curtly informed me, before starting to generously apply lots of it to my remaining hair, he then combed my hair with a severe parting. Having rinsed his hands in the wash basin and then dried them, he picked up the mirror and showed me the back and sides of my head.

"You may not like it, but I’m sure it’s one of the best haircuts you’ve ever had."

"I agree it’s very smart, but I think you’ve cut it much too short."

"No such thing as too short, young man."

He said firmly, as he removed the cape and let me off the chair. It was quite a frosty ending of my haircut and then departure from his shop.

To be continued:

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