Barbershop Quartet…

Pretentious, assuming (as always), using cryptic as a cover for lazy – I write.

I write about my…

Two failed (meaningless to most) missions that had me trying to salvage some sense of achievement from a morning—an up till then wasted morning. A point in that time displayed to me: a barber shop of all things, one I suspected was placed deliberately at the desolate end of that very moment to invite me in. An impromptu remedy for my unkempt appearance and whimsical enough to be at a right angle to my original intentions. And what the heck, I now had the time spare to accept its call.

So accept I did and in I went; the Village in Trafford Park. Two barbers snikking and snipping and chatting and bantering amongst themselves and their customers. Barber one: fifty to sixty, Mancunian in manner and accent. Barber two: twenty five to thirty five and more Northern Irish than the Manc was Manc. Humorous were their sallies and heartily I listened as I queued. Not a line of course, the invisible queue where you clock who was there before you and place yourself on a chair amongst them whilst clocking who comes in after. Yes, heartily I listened because word-play was their game, I was hoping they’d strike a pun or gag that had not passed my ears before and I could revel in the novelty. One or two did, I smirked and I now know how to tie a Thai should I ever need to. I warmed to them as I waited, even enjoyed the delivery of the ones I’d heard before, till it came to my turn.

The Northern Irish guy threw a towel over my shoulders and tucked it into my neckband. ‘Eight at the back and sides,’ I say ‘and and inch off the remaining threads at the top’. He abandons me with the excuse of a loo break but returns a moment later effusing the odour of a crafty fag. He begins; the eight turns my unkempt to kempt as I feel the lumps of overgrown locks fall to and darken the towel on my shoulders. Standard conversation ensues, the sort no barber nor hairdresser remembers thirty minutes hence. Auto-pilot it is with words and scissors. So I fill spaces with well considered remarks, thought invokers and wordplay of an order I can’t usually manage on the fly but am encouraged by knowing their affinity for it. Northern Irish guy takes an interest, Mancunian I see breaks from conversing with his own client and listens in. I blurt (nay divulge by request) elements of my life story, my eleven schools, my peripatetic childhood, my year living in the Park… Trafford Park that is, in a terraced with an outside toilet. ‘I remember this place when it was all houses,’ I spieled and laced that spiel with comedy. Moving on they hear of my triumphs and travails abroad – I have momentum now but I have to stop – to save what little hair I have left!

All the while I never looked in the mirror, I don’t do mirrors in such a circumstance, I’m loathed to look at myself in public (issues). A mirror in the hand of my barber though forces me to observe the back of my head two reflections away and approve the short back and sides administered. A nod, a brush to the back of the neck, a whipped away towel, seven and a half quid doled out and I’m good to go.

‘You’ll never be short of friends.’ The Mancunian informs me; it comes from nowhere and I take it out of the shop with me, noticing several customers (that make the unspoken chair-based queue) all eying me with smiles as I leave.

Although warmed by the interaction, I felt a little caught out – I’m not partial to having an audience – at least one where I’m present. And for the friends bit: well I’m presently in a – some would say ‘self-destructive’ – phase of abstaining from previous friendships and not initiating new ones. An ascetic with a cause.

And that cause…

Well let’s let this pretentious one be cryptic eh.