The place I used to go for haircuts has closed down. Oh buggeration.
It's bad enough that I will no more have my tresses attended to by the lovely Liz. Many a hungover Saturday morning has, in the past, been enlightened by the way she would wield sharp implements mere inches from my ears whilst smiling winningly. My Liz-free future is bad enough, for sure. But the abject sheriff-shooting, village-burning, crap-on-a-biscuit running around involved in finding another suitable place is almost too much to bear.
It's one of the few things that is easier for women. Hairdressers want female custom. Customers who attend regularly, have additional services like colouring, nails, Indian head massage, Hopi ear candles (I know, it's a new one on me, too), and who are quite willing to spend a fortune. Customers who will, on each visit, buy up enough chemicals in the form of creams, unctions, styling mousses, sprays and conditioners to deforest an area of the Amazon basin the size of Norfolk.
What these places don't really want is blokes who go in every six weeks, after being nagged to do so, tell the hapless hairdresser: "Can you just do what you did last time?" sit in sullen silence and leave no tip. Men who look on the whole subject of hair products as something to be feared.
"Styling gel, sir?"So hairdressers go all out to attract the female vote. Us men have some tough choices:
"What, and have people thinking I like showtunes?"
- The backstreet barber - even if it's not in a backstreet, it has this sort of backstreety-ness about it. Lots of combs in jars of luminous blue stuff. Could be Gatorade, for all you know. Go in smiling, come out scratching.
- The chain - take a ticket, join a queue. Cheap and cheerless. You may have your hair cut by someone holding the right end of the scissors. But normally they just get the shaver out and ask you what number you want. This passes for conversation.
- Ye Olde Traditional - looks for all the world like an old-world barber shop. But essentially you're really just paying £5 more for the chain experience (see above) in a room with walnut veneer cupboards.
- Ladies hairdresser, but does men, too - you're going to get a pissed-off junior who wanted to be the next Nicky Campbell but is instead having to snip away at some bloke in a t-shirt advertising a brand of beer. Yes love, I know how you feel. I wanted to be over six feet tall and meet Scarlett Johansson. Life gives you lemons, and all that....
I almost found a place this morning. The sign advertising 'Hot Towel Slaves' was, I must admit, the first thing that caught my eye. Novel, but I suppose you have to keep the clientele entertained. On close inspection that last word turned out to be 'Shaves', of course, but I guess you knew that all along. That's another shop in the locality where I can't show my face again.
So I'm stuck. Katie tells me that the place she goes to also does gents, but going to the same place as her brings back memories of those times my mother would take me for haircuts as a child. Perhaps they'd have a plank across the seat for me to sit on.