My barber recently retired and my quest to find a good replacement has proved very difficult.
He was like a friend. If we talked about the price of beer, the headlines on his well-thumbed complimentary newspaper and the fortunes of our respective football teams, the 15 minutes of potential quiet unease passed relatively quickly.
Since then, it’s become increasingly difficult to find a barber (sorry, stylist) who doesn’t wear earphones, so conversation seems limited to telling them what I want and praising their painstakingly brilliant 45-minute artistry at the end. Although I have never understood why any barber shows me the back of my head. It always ends in painful disappointment.
Annoyingly, every barber seems to be charging £8.
Annoying because you always feel obliged to leave a small tip so either physically count out £9 – like Jim Bowen on Bullseye – or hand over a tenner and say: “Take £9 and give me a quid back” which sounds really petty and mean.
As a child, I had a different set of barber visiting problems.
Firstly, there was a sign inside the barbers which read: “No Boys Sat” which is why I always waited standing up. Years later I realised it meant “No boys on Saturday” as it was considered a rare time for working men to visit the barber.
It also had a sign which read: “Sorry, no shaving” and I witnessed a guy shaving his own beard whilst he waited, being forcefully ushered out of the door.
The worst problem, was the barber’s wall covered in posters of the stars of the day, whose hairstyles your barber claimed he could do for you.
Which was great if you wanted to look like any slight deviation of Burt Reynolds.
Getting older, I have no such problems with style. Although I was surprised when I recently went into a barber’s and asked for a No.2 and he said: “there’s a public toilet down the road.”