Monday, November 21, 2005

Short Back and Sides

The hair cutting pastimes are not limited to the lovesick alone. It has been reported that even those possessed of the stoniest hearts can indulge, for a fee, in the art of shearing. Their hair, like anyone else’s hair, can just as easily fall to the floor.

Outside certain houses and premises you will see a large white pole. Its whiteness tarnished by a thick stripe of red. Diagonally tarnished by a thick stripe of red. It goes up sometimes. It goes down. Within these poled houses of repute you will find the soft emporium of touch and go, of warm water and the hum of heating driers. Hum, they go, hum.

In these fast booths of emporium and wetness, you will find yourself seated in a chair wondering how on earth you got there and what on earth miracles could be performed to make any kind of difference. A whole new look? With those few strands? Don’t make them laugh.

You idly stare, at those persons over there, as they idly pass the time talking with reason, singing in rhyme. You cannot fail to notice that their conversation is much better than yours. The air thick with laughter, surprise, the erotically-charged promise of tip. But you, your other backward self staring back at you, are a mute display of how you’ll wish you still looked in half an hour’s time.

At bottom, as you turn to look to the floor, that collection of dust mites, human hair and scalpy flakes is gathered up to make nests for the poor birds and mice who nestle in the skirting boards and hide in the eaves. At night, when the white pole has shut off its redness, there is an endless woodland creek of activity as species of all stripes and size make it their business to peck and fuss to get this emporium into ship shape and high street fashion. By morning it is a complex variety of twinkling corners, polished steel, sharpened shears and shiny surprise. In the mirror it is all that and more.

Which is where you are now, gazing softly at your overall lumpiness, at your endless disappointments. From behind, at last, appears the out-of-focus shape of Jonesy the Barber. The Blob Barber, as they call him round here. You can see, if you look ever so closely, the ripple of his vast and cutting shape. Crack, goes his towel, crack.

He pushes you gently, with an imperceptible finger, deep down into your chair. What be what you want and what can I do? as his grin traces the contours of your remaining wisps. And where once you had rehearsed a grand tale of deception, of shedding the years with the pounds, of ensuring you would no longer be you, you instead mutter vaguely, waving your arm as you rise up for air. Down, he says, I want you back down there.

So snip he goes. And trim. And after a while, after he’s snipped and trimmed and shaved and raved, you realise that you don’t look any different. Still lumpy. Still a disgrace. But now with shorter hair.

6 Comments:

Blogger Molly Bloom said...

The overwhelming poignancy that comes from this piece is that nothing changes. The simplicity of having a change of image may make others view us differently but what remains inside is always the same.
The mise-en-scene of this place is like opening the door onto the bleakness and realism of a Terence Davies film or the horror of B S Johnson taking his cover lesson. I just hope the protagonist did not lose his lucky pebble.

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