Recently accused of being an adolescent pensioner, the term meant as a slight actually describes my outlook perfectly. Equipped with a right of passage bus pass and brandishing silver locks, de rigour with members of the wise socio economic group, I sallied forth to explore options for a haircut. Traditionally this involved a barber complete with revolving stripped pole and a six quid investment for a trim, but of late a couple of disasters have steered me towards other options.
The long used barber having retired handed his operation over to a daughter, who although skilled and efficient, regrettably for us both was hospitalised for a while. This broke the cycle, a substitute man-with-scissors was needed. This took the form of a chap from Scotland who has the best craic know to man. His narrative had me in tears, the hair cut session was a delight, but yet a lingering concern after he explained he was self-taught. How does a barber acquire the skills needed on a self-teaching basis apart from acquiring them from practicing, presumably unannounced on the first 20 customers who were subsequently subjected to a progressive learning curve when the post haircut rear view mirror was mysteriously lost for a week or two?
They say the difference between a good and bad haircut is four weeks, I have to concur. After several visits to my Scottish barber friends enquired why I had ridges cut into the top of my hair. Was there fashion link I appeared to be following? Closer inspection revealed it was presumably down to the embryonic skill base of the barber. In a week or two the ridges became less defined but clearly it was time to move on, a new skill base was needed.
I tried a ladies hairdresser that advertised its male hairdressing ability. The drive to enter the salon was a tad lacking, this was new territory. And what was the drill? Luckily on the day the place was empty so at least no anticipated weird looks from fellow customers. Then the tricky question; what did I want doing? A trim all round was nervously suggested, I mean how lame is that description, but it appeared to be accepted much to my relief. This was going all well and seemed straightforward. Chatting about the weather and holidays to come didn’t stretch the imagination or communication skills, and off she went; snip, snip etc. Fairly early on in the sequence I noticed a significant chunk of hair was missing from above the left ear. Perhaps it was the benchmark to trim down to, in itself rather scary, as it was desperately short. The young lady had also spotted the mistake, paused deciding on whether I would notice or whether she could spin it as a fashion statement like the shorn patch where kids have hieroglyphics cut with a beard trimmer. We both drew breath realising the visit to her salon was in all probability now a one-off event.
Back home I was duly inspected. The comment it was “different” heard through a hand placed over the mouth in a vane attempt to stifle laughter helped not at all. Further tips suggesting that if I place a cupped hand over my ear – as if answering a phone nobody would notice. Not the outcome I was hoping for and what about the lengthy periods in between “calls”. I was resigned to the asymmetric look for some weeks although this provided unexpected street cred. Lopsided presented a positive fashion statement to many predominately younger souls. I was in. A visit to Boots tempted me to try a grooming product in an attempt to train the top hair to drift across the shorn area. whilst things reestablished themselves. A further irrational decision saw me walk out of Boots armed with a substance called grooming clay. For the uninitiated this has adhesive characteristics that makes super glue seem like flour and water paste. It allows about three seconds from application to achieve a permanent immoveable set able to withstand 90 mph winds without a twitch. Regrettably if the desired effect is not achieved within the three seconds…….! Running a comb through it just ripped the teeth from the comb and sleeping with a hair set like chicken wire was not easy. Luckily hot water and shampoo weakens the molecular structure sufficiently to wash the stuff down the plug hole. If anyone wants a tube of matt clay grooming glue with one squirt used just let me know.
The bad haircut finally approached the four-week duration. I gave it seven weeks to ensure the additional foliage masked the scalping from the next hairdresser by. It was a vain attempt to avoid the “who gave you this haircut?” moment. This is where salvation was discovered in the form of Fran at “Two’s Company” hairdresser on the outskirts of Leeds.
The salon posted an enticement; men’s hairdressing also available. The salon is like a film set, besieged with all manner of gubbins and technical kit of no known use to mere males whose experience extends to red and white barber poles. Q in the James Bond films had met his match. Decked out in black smock with what looked like a shoulder brace from American football to stop cut hair falling into the depths of ones apparel I was plonked in a chair, faced the mirror and waited for the tutting to begin. Fran ran her fingers through the hair; this was an unexpected plus I thought, but the moment vapourised when I distinctly heard a stream of Hail Mary’s being muttered. The damage had been spotted.
Like the professional she is Fran announced she was not going to cut the hair too short, omitting the obvious – like you had last time. Relieved, I was in the hands of master, or rather mistress – but after the hair fondling I think it best to say master to avoid repercussions from Ray who is (a) Fran’s husband and business partner (b) was standing nearby armed with scissors idly clicking which I quickly surmised could have consequences – and the possibility of a deliberate repeat of the previous disaster.
The process began. Clearly the barbers use of powered hair trimming or shearing equipment is shunned by the professional preferring the deft use of scissors to cut and correct. Without doubt the best haircut I have ever enjoyed. To say I look stunning is an understatement, and OK, possibly also an overstatement but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and looking in the mirror is certainly enough to convince me.
The process took slightly longer than a fully mechanised barber but the output was of an infinitely higher quality. The loose hair being blown away with a hair dryer set on low heat produced a far superior cleaning effect than the average barber with his little white brush. The hair dryer/blower was the only thing mechanical used, the little grey particles of seven weeks output of the follicles being blown into oblivion. But what still remains a mystery is what the various pieces of equipment hanging from the ceiling are actually used for.
For the sake of clarity readers should note the photo of me below was taken before I became an Adonis with a Two’s Company haircut.
Two’s Company Hair Salon
579 Selby Road
Tel: 01132 328988