So I’ve moved to Cornwall, and today I took the important step that every traveller must make when they undergo a long term move:
Getting that first hair-cut.
I went to a barber shop that had a savvy looking hair-dresser and a peculiar smell wafting around the dreary little setting of his various cutting capers.
Currently, I’m sitting on a train to London, but earlier, as I sat in this squalid but friendly little room, I became increasingly aware of the fact that this hair-dresser was taking a lot of time to make sure each customer’s hair was perfectly styled. This both pleased and worried me; I thought I’d left myself plenty of time, but it was becoming evident that this wasn’t the case. I sat there for an hour before it was my turn, listening to the barber and his customers chat about football and stag do’s and touching tips. I’m just joshing you, they didn’t actually mention the last one.
Two pleased customers down, he turned to me; this was the moment of truth; would he actually give me the hair-cut I wanted?
I say this because ever since I’ve been dictating how I want my hair to be cut, I can only think of one hair-dresser I’ve been to that’s actually given me the exact cut I wanted. This is not to say that the hair-cuts the other hair-dressers gave me were bad by any means, but they weren’t what I asked for. For some reason, whenever I enter a hair-dressers, the barber seems to completely shut off as soon as they’ve uttered the words “What can I do for you mate?” and then just takes a guess at what they thought I wanted. And then, if they’ve done a good job, you never have the heart to tell them that they’ve done it wrong, and have to walk out of the shop disappointed.
This of course was the case again today, unsuprisingly.
However, I am suprised he didn’t catch on that I was bothered because I could see my disappointment in the mirror that I stared into for forty minutes as he thoroughly worked on my hair like a prize-winning hedge trimmer. He was in paradise; he kept telling me that afro-hair (a rarity in Cornwall) is his favourite type of hair to cut, and he wished he had it himself. I nodded along and smiled, thinking that if he did have an afro he’d look bloody ridiculous. But he was friendly enough, and did a good job. As he prepared to shape-up my hair-line, expressing his belief that when cutting a black person’s hair this was the most important part (which I suppose is true), he stopped and asked me “This is the hair-cut you wanted, right fella?”
Why the fuck would you double-check what I wanted at the end of this whole process? Why not double-check at the beginning when I sat down?
Of course, I couldn’t tell him no, because he’d had such a fun time cutting my hair and making it, to his eye, perfect. And if I had said no, I’d miss my train as he spent another forty minutes tending to his first attempt.
I paid the £7.50 and bid him adieu. For the first time since June, I thought longingly of Leicester, where the hairdresser I went to was only a fiver and he actually listened to what I said.
The reason this is always particularly frustrating to me is because what I’m asking for isn’t especially complex or difficult to fathom; everytime I say to the hairdresser “I want a grade zero from here down” and gesture to the top of my ears, to which they usually respond, “So a low fade, yeah?” or just say they understand and go about doing some sort of fade anyway, whilst I struggle to fight back the urge to strangle them with the wire on their clippers.
I’m not asking for a fade, I’m literally just asking you to shave half my head. That’s what grade zero is and its probably the easiest thing any customer could ask for. If you really want to do a fade I’m leaving you hair above the top of my ears. Go beserk; take me back to the nineties and put a fucking Nike tick on the top of my head for all I care, as long as you just demonstrate you’ve heard what I said and shave the majority of my hair off.
Thinking about it, I probably wouldn’t appreciate it if some carved a Nike tick into my head. I take that part back.
Sometimes I think I should just go bald. It would save me so much hassle. Unfortunately I’m not sure I can pull off the Heisenberg look just yet. I’m also not prepared to have people call me ‘Heisenberg’ or ‘Walter Black’ until everyone forgets about Breaking Bad, which I doubt will be anytime soon.
So now here I am, sitting on a five hour train to London, as the girl opposite keeps awkwardly staring at me as if I did actually have that aforementioned Nike tick on my head after all, and then quickly looking away whenever I catch her.
She doesn’t look like she’s enjoying today.
Neither am I to be honest.