Saturday, 19 April 2014

Clean-cut. By a barber

I’m not of a fan of the modern institution of hairdressers. I mean, they do what they do well enough, but all the awful pretentiousness around it – the cups of coffee, the canned music, the camp discussion of the fine details of hairstyles – all leave me cold. Particularly as they seem exclusively designed to justify, if justification were possible, the scandalous prices these places charge.

Why, my dog’s hairdresser charges a lot less than they do, and Janka – that’s the dog, not the hairdresser – has a lot more to cut than I do.

Janka before and after. A lot more to cut. 
So wherever I go I look for that old-fashioned, much more basic and, in my view, more honest establishment, the barber’s. I had one in Stafford. I’m glad to say that I’ve found one in Luton too.

Clean-Cut Hairdressers in Luton
Don't be fooled – it's a barber's shop
It claims to be a hairdressers, but even the name gives the lie to that: Clean-Cut. No self-respecting hairdresser would call itself that. They always have names like A Cut Above or Hair Today – something allusively punning or otherwise aspiring to charm. 

And missing.

Clean-Cut’s a straight barber. No appointments. You turn up and take a close look at the guys (all guys) ahead of you, so you remember when it’s your turn. And you wait. That’s the downside of course: I waited the best part of half an hour today, but hey, it meant I could read the paper (is it still a paper, if it’s on a Kindle? Well, I think it is.)

When you get called over, there’s no attempt by the other guys to muscle in ahead of you. In fact, today I thought there were two in front of me, but they graciously waved me through.

“No, no, please,” they said, “go ahead.” 

It may have been because they wanted to watch the football results on the telly – that’s right, there’s no soppy canned music in Clean-Cut.

What about the cut itself?

“You want 3, 4 or 5?” he asked, forgetting that I don’t have my hair clipped any more.

“Scissors,” I informed him curtly.

“Scissors, of course,” he said, reaching for one of the two pairs carefully laid out before him.

The cut took 12 minutes. And it took place in silence, apart from absolutely necessary communication.

“Eyebrows, sir?”

“Is that high enough over the ears?”

There was no discussion of where he went on holiday last year or was planning to go this year. I didn’t find out about what had happened in the night club on Friday, and indeed I think it highly unlikely he frequents night clubs. I didn’t even discover what his elder daughter was doing in Canada, or even whether he had a daughter, in Canada of anywhere else.

A barber who gets on with it and does prattle
A gem in his profession
A blessed mercy. 

At the end of the process, my hair had been cut. Perfectly adequately in my far from humble opinion. And the charge? Rather under a quarter of what Janka’s cut cost. And, even though I have a lot less hair than she does, that’s still impressive.

Satisfies my requirements entirely
And don't knock the silver highlights –
absolutely not grey –
they took over sixty years to put in
It could even have been less. He asked me, as I came to pay, and dropping his voice as a request for such a confidence requires, whether I was a pensioner. That was slightly galling, since I like to pride myself on my youthful good looks, and don’t care to be told I don’t have them. I’m glad to say I managed to keep the disdain out of my voice when I told him I was not a pensioner, and therefore intended to pay the full fee. He smiled and accepted it.

A fine institution, the Barber’s. Long may it flourish.


Anonymous said...

Last time I went to the barber's was in Camden Town the year I was married; I had just come back alone from Finland; I sometimes try to work out how much I have saved. With the money I don't spend on fags, I would probably be able to afford a small car.


David Beeson said...

Be sure to drive carefully

Paul said...

I wouldn't go to anything other than a barber!

David Beeson said...

Well said, Paul. After all, one of them even got a couple of operas in his honour