I HATE having my hair cut. The social aspect of the occasion is fine. After all, I’ve known my hairdresser, Alan, for years and he is an artist.
What kind of artist may be open to discussion, but he is a brilliant raconteur and font of knowledge as well as wielding the blades of his trade as skilfully as D’Artagnan.
He also has hair like a Musketeer – long, blonde, wavy and lustrous – and, as I tend to wear my own locks in similar fashion, he is the perfect coiffeur to keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed.
If the 17th century ever makes a comeback, Alan and I shall be in the forefront of fashion. Until that happens, we’re not.
Of course, I’ve had long hair since I wore beads and an Afghan coat in the Swinging 60s. In those days one of my best friends was a barber. I lived in the flat above his shop. A visit downstairs was another social occasion.
As my hair got longer I transferred my trade to a chum who was a ladies hairdresser. He trained with Vidal Sassoon and went on to have his own chain of salons in London and Los Angeles. I really was spoilt for style in those early years. There were also disasters.
Like the demon barber in a back street of Blackburn who could have scarred my psyche for life after all the pampering I had enjoyed. It was my own fault. You should never be too forthright on a first visit.
I was attracted to his salon because it was empty (never a good sign) on a wet Wednesday afternoon which meant I would not have to wait. I made the mistake of complaining about his trade in general terms.
“It’s amazing,” I said. “Some chaps set themselves up as hairdressers after leaving the army. All they have ever learned is short back and sides. Where did you train?”
“In the army.”
I should have known by his short back and sides. It was the only style he knew. I stayed in for three weeks afterwards while my hair grew back and never had my hair cut in Blackburn again.
Friends who are not so blessed with hirsute locks complain I have an unfair advantage.
“You don’t look your age because of all that hair,” they say. And therein lies the rub. This is why I no longer like having my hair cut.
Because, for the 20 minutes in which Alan wields his blades and comb, I have to sit in a chair facing a gigantic mirror where all I can see is my past.
It is an eternal truth that, after a certain age, mirrors should be avoided or, at the very least, approached with care and one eye closed. An unexpected viewing shocks the system at the sudden appearance of a complete stranger.
Should I know this ancient chap? Perhaps once. A long time ago. When we were Musketeers.
And the unmitigated image I see before me, as I my hair is snipped and teased, tells me that I do, indeed, look all my years and more.
Next time, I shall ask Alan to drape the mirror with black crepe. To hide my image and in mourning for lost youth.