Friday, December 01, 2017
Close Shave - Friday
Back to the traditional barber’s shop for my four-weekly cut. You can’t afford to look scruffy with the amount of competition in our town. On-line agents with their call-centre set-ups might be able to look like extras from The Walking Dead, if all they do is take an up-front fee over the phone, pop a listing on a website, and get back to trawling Tinder. But at the cutting edge of property sales, they have to like you - and the look of you.
As I walk in, everyone turns as if a complete cowboy has entered a saloon bar. Admittedly there are plenty of cowboys in this, under-regulated business of mine, but I’m not one of them. Although by the look of distaste on the assembled blokes waiting their turn for a trim, a few might have clocked me for an estate agent. Who else, other than an undertaker, wears a suit and tie in this day and age?
Reluctantly everyone shuffles along the bench seat to let me sit. All the barbers’ chairs are occupied and more worryingly there’s no sign of my usual man, the one who knows for sure what I do and is usually discreet enough to whisper when he inevitably asks about the property market. I can feel the looks of dislike on the back of my neck, if he does let people hear what I do, and with the mirror I can see them too. They don’t like estate agents but they sure like to know how much their home is worth.
‘He not in today?’ I say to one of the ladies, as she looks my way. She’s cut my hair before and in truth does it better than my missing mate.
‘On the golf course.’ Replies the trimmer , brushing hair from her top and unfolding the lethal-looking razors they use to trim your nape.
The last thing you need when a barber has one of those in their hands, is to have a heated discussion about the vagaries of the UK housing market. Its a cut-throat business.
Golf is one of the few sports that leaves me cold. Probably, because after a lifetime in sales, I’ve never been able to justify half a day spent looking for a lost ball in some tic-infested undergrowth, while my competitors are signing up deals I am missing.
I nod and settle in to read the free newspapers. The choice isn’t great, just The Sun or The Daily Mail. One features radical opinions and scare stories penned by complete tits - the other….
‘Who’s next?’ Says a woman I’ve not seen before. She has the only spare chair available and I’m in a dilemma. If I say I’d rather wait for her colleague who I know can cut my hair well, it looks like I’m being impolite, or judgmental, or maybe even sexist. It was a lot simpler when I was a lad and the old bloke who operated out of his garage, only did clipper-cuts and favoured young boys, was the only choice. Come to think of it he disappeared in a hurry one day. Nowadays he’d be on some sort of register and I could sue for unwanted follicle-fondling, but at the time that sort of thing was brushed under the carpet.
‘How do you like it?’ Asks the woman, after I’ve reluctantly settled in to the chair. I seem to remember the old pervert in the garage had a similar line, and that’s before his tired old gag, about something for the weekend and a nod to his dusty display case of condoms and unsettling-looking lubricants.
I tell her the preferred grade, with a scissors on top finish and hope she doesn’t screw it up. A month of ridicule in the office and at sales’ meetings I can do without. Plus, I’m not sure I can afford the weekly cost of that Regaine hair restorer, if too much is removed.
And then it comes, just as she starts long sweeps of the clippers.
‘So what do you do?’
It’ll grow back.