by Tom Norton
They say in life it behooves a gentleman to have a trusted doctor, mechanic, dentist and hairdresser.
Though the rattling in my car, plasticine fillings and constant cold suggest I’m yet to stumble across the first three, it pleases me to state that at 26 years of age, I’ve found a hairdresser I trust, and more importantly – can tolerate for 45 minutes every month.
Unfortunately ‘Lucy’ is getting married, and with complete disregard to my follicular needs, selfishly decided to take February off. And with a holiday to Dubai at the end of the week, I was a man in need. I’m not particularly vain or prissy about my haircut, but – not being sure what passes as coiffured style in the UAE – I thought it best to avoid the Arabian barbers for fear of being palmed off with ‘The Sheikh Mansour’ or something.
So I booked the only available evening appointment one of the more renowned High Street chains offered, looking forward to getting rid of the unruly mop on my head I’d unsuccessfully been trying to grow out since Christmas. From past experience (before I found Lucy), I find with a haircut – much like a job interview – you can gauge its probable success in the first ten minutes. And from the outset, this had disaster written all over it.
The water that was thrust upon me (they had no teabags) was warm, the head massage was too short and the vacant faced girl tasked with cutting my hair said ‘like’ before like, everything she said. After telling her quite succinctly and simply how I wanted my “air dun”, she nodded knowingly and enthusiastically – like the proverbial Churchill dog – so I relaxed a little, confident she knew what she was doing.
For half an hour I sat there, head buried as much as is humanly possible in a GQ issue to avoid speaking to the Neanderthal flitting around me with scissors. “When you walked in I fort you was like, a PE teacher” she says laughing. I smile politely – restraining the urge to tell her to shut up and concentrate on the hair she’s taking a lifetime to not cut – “no, no…just popped to the gym first.” She smiles widely, the dawning realisation of why I’m dressed in a tracksuit lighting up her vacant face. “Ohhhh I see…so, do you get people telling you that a lot?”
I inform her that I don’t go everywhere dressed in gym clothes so no, I do not – pointedly returning to my magazine.
15 more minutes pass and I notice she’s holding up a mirror, in the same way other hairdressers do when they finish your haircut – except mine doesn’t even seem to have started. I’m expecting (and asked for) a number two round the sides and back, yet I notice, I still have hair going over my ears. I asked for an inch to be taken off the fringe, and miraculously Vidal Sassoon here has somehow made it look longer.
Noting my incredulity, she looks disappointed – asking if I want any more off. “More than the 2mm you’ve taken so far? Yes please, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble,” I say.
Except I don’t of course, instead I politely ask her if she wouldn’t mind taking in the sides with clippers, take quite a bit more off the top with thinning scissors (that I have to locate for her) and an inch off the fringe. Almost exactly what I asked 4 hours ago when this debacle began.
I am now instructing my hairdresser through every SINGLE minute of my £40 haircut. I look around the salon, expecting her colleagues (who are now waiting to close up) to be doubled over in laughter, whispering to each other “Do you think he knows we gave him the kak handed cleaner??”, but no such sight is to be seen.
Apparently this girl is an actual hairdresser, even though she adopts a pained expression as every one of my strands falls to the ground – like it’s a pound off her wages with each snip, instead of mine.
I’m rifling through the magazine in my lap, trying to find a picture of a bloke with a similar style to what I want. To no avail; all I can find is a double page feature on Boris Johnson, and in hind sight, I’d have been better off asking for his ridiculous thatch than whatever Edwina Scissorhands has left me with.
After another twenty minutes I, (and I think she) have given up. Nothing is worth this I think, looking over at the ‘Barbicide’ and wondering whether to drink it, just to get out of there. I tell her that yeah, that’s EXACTLY what I wanted, beaming like a maniac.
As I go up to pay, every member of staff is looking at me with the same absurdly forced grin I’m sporting – pearly whites gleaming, their eyes actively avoiding the numerous, patchy bits of scalp now visible on my head. I hand over the forty sheets, ruing the fact I now have to shave my head, ruing high street hairdressers, ruing Lucy and her wedding, and, under the scrutiny of every member of staff there… leave a tip.