03 March, 2006

Hair apparent

I knew the day was fast approaching, but tried to put off thinking about it whenever possible. Time, however, ticked remorselessly onwards until my alarm went off this morning and I realized with dread that the day had finally arrived: the day I had to go and get my first haircut in London. In other words, my first haircut for just over ten years at a new barber's.

I'd spotted a likely venue soon after arriving here, conveniently situated not sixty seconds from my flat. This, I reasoned, would at the very least mean I could make a quick getaway and not have to go for too long with any obligatory hair-lined clothing still about my person.

All the same, I felt a curious sense of dread as I prepared to visit the premises. It's not like I have a particularly complicated haircut - quite the reverse - but the mere thought of some different people, some unknown people, attending to my instructions after so long made me really quite anxious. And just what would be the etiquette of the establishment? Should you wait to be called to a chair or sit in one as soon as the previous occupant has stood up? Would there be endless smalltalk all the way through? Should you specify what you don't want along with what you do? Above all, would it cost under £10 (well, it was all I had on me. And with it being £5 in Liverpool, I figured double that amount should suffice).

As it turned out it cost £9, took twice as long as usual, was mercifully free of any chatter, involved various peculiarities I could've done without (smearing the shaved hairline round the back of my neck with some kind of, well, lubricant; using one of those - erk - long old-fashioned single blades to trim around my ears), and almost resulted in me getting a complete shampoo purely, it seems, because I hadn't said I didn't want my hair washed.

It was also interesting to discover who else was waiting for service. My flat is within the part of the city that houses London's Jewish community, and as such it was instructive to find the shop busy with mostly Jewish men of all ages hastening, presumably, to get seen to before the Sabbath.

Anyway, the whole ordeal was over in less than half an hour. Of course despite my hair being stupidly boring it still looks weird and different now, and as such I feel like another part of the Liverpool "me" has been literally cut away.

Still, at least it wasn't as bad as the worst hairdressers in the world, who lived in the Liverpool University Student Union basement, and comprised a 70 year-old with a face like a fossilised walnut who smoked all the way through the cutting, and his assistant, a gay dancer who was always being interrupted to take bookings for private parties.


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