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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mop Chop

I hate having my hair cut. Unfortunately as I rather prefer a short and neat (if somewhat boring) style, this presents a slight dilemma.

Truth be told, I had avoided the barber's shop since June. The excuse was always that I'll save it for a special occassion (a job interview would be nice!). Nevertheless, with the Christmas party season nearly upon us (and the thought of disaproving stares from mum over the turkey) tonight I decided to give the ladies a little treat, and go for the chop.

Truth be told, I started to seriously contemplate a trimming a few weeks ago after my shower. I was unsuccessfully trying to come my hair into a vaguely neat style, but it wasn't having any of it. Frankly, I couldn't give two shits whether my hair was "tidy" or not - being the only person in the sports centre not allowed to wear a scruffy tracksuit, I figure that I am still the smartest person there regardless of my hair "style". No, what really gave me pause for thought was what was happenning at the nape of my neck. I realised that if action wasn't taken within the next few weeks, then combing my hair back would result in a rather respectable Mullet!

So tonight I was let out of work early because there were no customers and the DM was happy to sit on the reception desk where he can see the footie on SKY. Figuring it was an omen, I decided to go to the late-night barbers shop that is normally just closing up when I go past on the bus after work.

I've had some pretty good haircuts there in the past, but it is always a little nerve-wracking. Whilst it is important to note that the lads who run it speak better English than I speak Arabic, it is also important to point out that I only speak 2 phrases in Arabic (Inshallah and Eid Mubarak, in case you were wondering. Useful for saying goodbye to someone after wishing them a happy Eid, but not a lot else).

Anyways, after 20 minutes watching Syria's answer to Eastenders, it was my turn in the big chair.
"I want a short haircut on the top, nice and neat. No parting, I want it forward." I waved my hands in the air expressively. He nodded sagely.
"And I want the back trimmed to a number 3 and blended in."
I am a creature of habit, and this has given me a decade worth of neat if uninspiring haircuts.
"You want number 3 all over?", he said firing up the clippers.
"No!" I yelped in panic. I don't want to look like a skinhead advised to grow his hair a week before his first court appearance.
"I want the back and sides done number 3 and the top cut with scissors".
"Ahhh. Like mine".
He had a quite smart hairstyle, just a bit longer than I was looking for.
"Yeah, that'll do".
Out came the clippers again.
Nervously, I watched in the mirror - thank god! They were being used to trim off the sides and back.

Now, have you ever thought to yourself "This would possibly be the worst time imaginable for a fire alarm"?
After the back and sides had been done, I had just such a moment. In order to make a neat job of it, he had fluffed the hair on the top of my head up a bit, to get it out of the way. I suddenly realised that I bore more than a passing resemblance to Gary Glitter. I couldn't think what would be worse, being stranded on the street during a fire alarm being swamped by dozens of 12 year olds wanting to sleep with me, or being chased by loads of Vietnamese immigrants wanting to cut my bollocks off for kiddy-fiddling in their home country. Allegedly. Fortunately, despite the best efforts of the crowd of smokers under the smoke detector, the alarm didn't sound.

The remainder of the haircut went pretty much as planned. Admittedly, the small cowlick curl at the front had to go (when I said that I wanted a haircut similar to his, I didn't mean identical...), but the only other complaints I had were that my grey hair (note the singular) which appeared about 4 years ago appears to have returned after a long absence, and I feel he has made it more prominent. What was most scary though, was that he shaved my ears. Yes that's right I am 28 years old and he seems to feel that I need my ears shaving. Not only was the buzzing of the electic razor deafeningly loud, I resent the implication that I am some sort of Hobbit. Obviously, after he shaved the right one I had to let him shave the left one in case people ask why one ear is smoother than the other.

All in all, the whole operation took 20 minutes and cost the princely sum of £6. That's about £12/year by my maths. Bargain!

Whilst we are talking about hair, I saw the weirdest thing on the bus tonight.

A young black lad about 16 years old got on. He was dressed in jeans, and a Basketball style white top. His hair was quite thick and wiry. Were this the late 70's he could have grown a very respectable Afro, however since he wasn't born until the late 80's he had settled for a neat all-over trim, about a centimetre in length. So far so normal. Nothing unusual in that, just a regular kid catching the bus who wouldn't stand out in a crowd. What drew my attention however (and the rest of the bus - although being British we were far too polite to stare, we all just gazed out of the window or at our feet) was the extremely large old-fashioned comb that jutted out of his hair. Just like those combs that old ladies with buns leave in their hair to keep it in shape. But about three times the size and poking forward. In fact, I thought it was just the brim of a cap at first glance.

We arrived at his stop, he thanked the driver, and got off, leaving a bus full of bewildered passengers. I got off at the next stop, by which time no one had yet voiced the question that we were all thinking...



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