Sunday, 19 September 2010
The Mystery Deepens
Yesterday's intriguing RetroProgressive post by The Dabbler's style guru, the fabulous Susan, has given rise to a sparkling comment stream (on my head, by the way, I'd have the words May Contain Nuts). Among the comments is the Ineffable Malty on the great contemporary mystery of all those shaven heads everywhere. A still greater mystery is that a shaven head takes at least as long as a hair-covered one to deal with at the barber's, as I discovered this morning at my local barbershop - a Kurdish establishment, nice people ('Kurds. Good people', to adapt Jack's summing-up of Costa Ricans in Vexed). Next to me, and ahead of me in the queue, was a lightly tattooed thirtysomething man with a crop that a Prussian officer of the old school might have thought a tad harsh. When he took his place in the barber's chair, he issued some instruction to the barber which I didn't catch, but which I imagine were along these lines: 'Good day to you, barber. I grieve to report that a mutinous faction among my follicles have dared to raise themselves perilously near to the quarter-inch mark. Would you oblige me by hunting them down and putting paid to their presumption. Employ all weapons at your disposal, and by all means take your time about it. You may, if you like, converse with me the while about football and kindred matters...' And so began an agonisingly long wait while all manner of minutely detailed work was done with a range of electric clippers and even scissors, largely devoted to snipping thin air, followed by blow-drying and the application of unguents and gels. When the lightly tattooed fellow at length rose from the chair, looking just that little bit worse than before, my spirits rose as at least it would now be my turn - but not a bit of it: he had his son with him, a lad of about seven sporting a crop at least as severe as his papa's, and he too was to 'have his hair cut', a procedure that took very nearly as long as what had gone before and left him effectively bald but for a few tiny gelled spikes. The lad seemed well pleased - as was I to at last have my turn in the barber's chair. It might have been my imagination, but the barber seemed glad to have some actual hair to get to work on. He did a fine job (Kurds. Good barbers) and I emerged onto the street a happier, less shaggy man. Outside the shop I was accosted by my old friend, the one-eyed gentleman from County Galway, with the news that, as I had neglected the simple precaution of being born again, I was likely facing an eternity of roasting in the fires of hell. I bore the tidings with equanimity.