The Troubadours of Tonsorial Talent

My Dad retired this year. Last week in fact. And now, he is dedicating the rest of his life to writing. I have been at it for years, and he has sprung from the barriers like a man possessed. And he is really that good. Publishers take note. We share the same interest on dissecting the mundanities of life. And so without further ado, here is his reflection about a trip to the barbers.

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A gentleman’s haircut is a partnership and contract.

According to one of my favourite characters Hercule Poirot the customer brings the hair and the hairdresser the skill to the partnership and contract.

It is conventional wisdom that there are many persons eligible to be Prime Minister of our country, but most of them are busy driving cabs and cutting hair.

A man’s relationship with his barber is akin to that with his stockbroker, priest or physician.

The unsolicited advice; sympathising with the client being increasingly follically challenged; and the customer after many years waiting for the advice as to when to have the “I give up” haircut a la Yul Brynner.

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Rocky and Vince – Transcending Tonsorial Talent

My Italian tonsorial practitioners – Rocky and Vince (their real names) are from the Old School of Barbers, perfect foils for each other, with Rocky making outrageous statements and Vince shaking his head sadly in mock pity at his utterances.

The salon is sparsely furnished, with chairs able to be persuaded to manipulate the customer into any desired position.

Inevitably there are calendars on the walls featuring alluring young women, the likes of whom presumably will be unable to resist you after Rocky and Vince have woven their magic on your melon.
Aside from that, there are the bottles of antiseptic in which combs are stored; the cans of oil which are applied to the electric clippers as required; the scissors sharpened to perfection; the murderous-looking razors complete with a leather strop to keep them sharp; the shaving brushes and shaving soap to assuage your neck; the beautiful smell of bay rum squirted in a mist onto your newly mown areas; and finally the talcum powder liberally swished across your neck with a bushy brush. At this time you feel in “showroom condition”.

To watch an accomplished barber in action is entertainment in itself.

The kaleidoscope of requirements of the many customers ranges from the short back and sides of the old guys, through the mullets on the younger, and the “number 5’s” of the muscle – bound and the follically challenged.
During proceedings various acolytes and disciples come through the door of the hairdresser’s shop. Some bear tiny cups of espresso thick enough to stand a spoon in. All join in the sipping. Others enter purely for the entertainment, gossip and repartee.

A Barber’s Salon is the perfect place for an observer to hear the many theories relating to the theory that “The older I get the better I was”.

Tall tales of sporting and more carnal achievements abound, except when perhaps a shiny-faced youngster observed by his anxious mother occupies one of the operating chairs, when a more general conversation is employed.

I particularly enjoy watching a customer being shaved. During this procedure, a hot towel having been applied to focus and soften the stubble, there is polite conversation and sometimes salacious commentary.
However, as soon as the cut-throat razor is produced and sharpened, the customer becomes frozen in time.

His bonhomie temporarily disappears, conversation lapses, and the tonsorial practitioner is virtually talking to himself.

The client sits stock still, hoping, nay praying, that the barber has not had a late night on the tiles or experienced some domestic dispute, either of which events may affect the steadiness of the hand wielding the razor.

With the cutthroat safely holstered, normal service resumes, twenty-three oxford scholars* are produced, and the client, looking like a peeled peach, disappears into the milling crowd.

Rocky and Vince sweep up the mounds of hair, gleefully welcome the next customers and their special requirements, and do it all again.

He is currently accepting topics. If you have one, whack it in the comments. xx

*dollars