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Home Alone by A Recruit



It was rare for me to be home alone, with three sons, a daughter and very social wife, the house is normally full of noise and an abundance of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Today, however, was different. The children were at school and my wife was visiting her mother. The silence was initially quite unnerving, as I decided how I would spend this special day, a day all to myself.

It was strange to think that I had been looking forward to this day to myself for weeks, it had seemed a great idea, I worked long hard hours and thought I deserved a little time to myself. Trouble was now that I had it — I had nothing to do. I missed the hustle and bustle of the family in the house.

I made myself some coffee, and settled down on the sofa with the newspaper. The silence around the place was eerie, so I turned on the television for a little company. I promised myself that I would not move again until I had read the paper from cover to cover. It would be a treat having all of the sections intact.

I must have dozed for a while, as I suddenly woke. As I stirred I glanced up at the television, to see a clip of a teenage lad taking a seat in a barber’s chair. My attention caught I scrabbled around for the remote control, and turned up the volume. For some reason intrigued, I moved closer to the screen, as the camera shot closed in on the lad’s face.

He looked the typical lad next door, admittedly in need of a haircut, nothing new in that for a lad of his age I thought. As a Dad myself I was well used to cajoling the lads into a barber shop, aware that they often managed to last out for weeks longer than I would like to see, via various devious and well orchestrated plots which they seemed to conjure up amongst themselves.

The lad was draped in a burgundy cape, and was being questioned by one of those cardboard day-time TV presenters, that always think they are so very entertaining! It appeared I had tuned into a make over show and the lad was going away on a three month trip, cycling around Australia, and his mother had written into the show asking for an image update for her son and his companion.

At that point the camera cut away to introduce a second young lad onto the set, who having grinned nervously at the audience took a seat in another barbers chair and was immediately caped and surrounded by a second makeover team. This lad was darker skinned than the other, and wore a much thicker mop of lightly curled hair.

The presenter babbled on, about skin care and image, and eventually she turned to the hairdresser, a middle aged bald guy, and asked him what he was going to do for the boys today.

‘I thought that if these lads were travelling in the heat, they will both need a low maintenance style, there won’t be many hairdressers out in the bush!’ He then went and stood behind the first lad, and ran his finders though the grown out style. ‘Richard has a great head of hair, but it needs to lose all of this weight, I’m going to cut it much shorter at the sides and back..’ Richard nodded and seemed to approve.

Then the hairdresser and presenter stepped across to the other lad.

‘Josh, has a great bone structure, and I think we can give him an altogether more radical look.’ The studio audience laughed loudly, while the presenter asked Josh what he thought. Josh looked worried, and seemed embarrassed.

‘What do you think audience?’ shouted the presenter, playing to the crowd who were all cheering, a radical look was a popular choice for all except Josh, and then a commercial break cut into the screen.

My interest surprised me, and it seemed an endless time waiting for the programme to come back on, but it did. After the usual plastic introduction from the presenter, the camera cut across to the first young man, Richard. His haircut was already well in progress. The hair was wet and the bald guy was snipping away great handfuls of hair with ease. The lad seemed relaxed, as the presenter chatted about why he was so keen to travel around Australia. As the haircut was taking shape, the presenter cut across to discuss clothes with a middle aged women, who I wasn’t sure I’d trust to choose me an outfit, and I was at least twice the age of these lads!

I cursed that the haircut shots had been so incomplete. Yet another commercial break had to be endured.

When the program returned, it was Josh’s turn to be interviewed. The hairdresser was standing behind Josh, holding a set of electric hair clippers, well out of sight of Josh, who was explaining how he hoped to see as much of the Australian wildlife as he could. The audience was laughing, and Josh looked puzzled, that was until the clippers burst into life with an audible electric kick, and the puzzled look changed into one of abject terror.
To the accompaniment of the crowds laughter, the hairdresser placed the clippers at the front of Josh’s forehead, lifted a handful of his curls and ran the clippers across the head. He held up a handful of spilt hair, revelling in the audience’s approval.

It was only after a few more handfuls of hair had come off, that I realised that young Josh couldn’t see what was happening. I tried to imagine having my own hair sheared away, without being able to see the effect, but couldn’t.

The presenter, to her credit did try to divert his attention, but Josh did not seem too interested in her small talk about sun block and moisturising creams. The laughter of the crowd had subsided now.

Then to my own horror, the camera cut back across to the middle aged women in wardrobe. My initial outrage softened though as a few seconds later a small inset screen appeared and I watched as Josh was divested of all his hair. His head was pushed forward now, there was no need for talking, and the guy was pushing the clippers up the back of his head with military technique.

As Josh’s head was pushed up and then to one side, I saw a vacant expression in his eyes, that I had only ever seen once before in a news-clip of a young GI being shorn around the time of the Vietnam war, it was a memory that had haunted my sub-conscious ever since.

As the hair tumbled down from around the last ear, the presenters face was back, taking up the whole screen. The two guys were now going behind the scenes to dress in their new clothes, and guess what, she’d see us after the break – too right she would!

I couldn’t move from in front of the television, as commercial after commercial passed in front of me, face creams, toothpaste, hair dye – daytime TV was proving a source of great amazement to a guy who rarely watched TV, and certainly had never done so in the day.

My excitement peaked as the programme returned. The presented stood on the studio floor, flanked by the hairdresser and wardrobe women, and after mumbling on and on about nothing for a couple of minutes, at last introduced the two guys.

On they walked, Richard exhibiting a degree of confidence that eluded Josh. They had obviously rehearsed their entrance and co-ordinated a short twirl to display their new outfits, before coming to a standstill in from of what would presumably revolve around as a mirror.

A reminder of how the guys had looked when they came into the studio came up onto the screen, and then their after image was imposed by the side. Richard’s image came first, and he did look much better, a lot of his scraggy hair had gone, but although it was cut simply, it was still a couple of inches long in places, he had a typical salon type cut, the type my sons would always come back with. The sort of haircut, that can’t be described as long, but also not short, not untidy but not neat, the sort of haircut that nobody comments on, probably because they don’t realise you’ve been to the hairdressers.

While Josh turned the other way, the mirror was turned around, and he seemed to approve of the new image, he smiled, patted his head and inspected the cut closely, nodding approval to the hairdresser. He also said how much he loved the cotton suit he had been dressed in, though I wondered how practical that would be for travelling!

The presenter quickly moved on to Josh, before and after shot came on screen, and I balked at the transformation, it had been radical, but having spent a few minutes looking at Josh’s now marine length high and tight haircut, had forgotten how he’d looked earlier, the new look suited him so much. I stared at the TV not wanting even to blink in case I missed his reaction when the mirror revolved.

I had no need to worry, as Josh’s face was a picture, he stared at himself, and for a second didn’t recognise himself. As the penny dropped his hands reached up to the closely clipped sides of his head, and he let out a shriek. The audience laughed heartily, as did his friend Richard.

The producer was obviously enjoying this reaction, as he replayed it in slow motion, this time I could see the shock in his eyes as his eyes registered his image on his brain, in a split second of recognition.

Josh was speechless, he kept rubbing his shorn head, over and over, and could say nothing. The presenter stayed off mark, discussing the choice of outfit with the wardrobe women, khaki trousers and military style jersey. Slowly words began to form. ‘I love it. I would never have done this on my own, but I love it.’ And a broad smile broke out across his face. The audience clapped and cheered madly, and the closing credits played in.

I sat back, quite breathless. What a show that had been. I was developing a taste for this daytime TV, I flicked a couple of channels, and happened upon a 24 hour shopping channel, by coincidence the item on offer was a set of home hair clippers, complete with cape and instruction video. Obviously I called straight away, they would be delivered to my office the next day.

I telephoned my secretary, who was not surprised to hear from me, a self confessed workaholic, but she was when I asked her to reschedule my evening meeting for tomorrow.

‘I need to be home early to spend some time with my sons,’ I told her.

I wasn’t sure how I’d manage to wait until then, so picked up the TV remote to see what else was on.



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