One of our members, Richard Gillies, presents this short piece, which he assures us is not entirely autobiographical.
And That’s Not All
When you are young, your personality is new formed, and if there is anything wrong with its construction you take a long time to accept there is any need for improvement. That is why, when trying to impress, you will go to any length to put a sticking plaster over what is on the outside, rather than dealing with what lies within. Take myself: I used to buy Falcon hair spray to improve hair that probably did not need any improving, yet something sold me into using it. I must have thought it made me look better, but whether it did was never been clear. Studying the evidence as impartially as recollection affords, I cannot thing of a single benefit that came my way as a result of its application. It may have had the opposite effect, and acted as a deterrent, yet the data is not there to pass judgement, and all I can say is that the advertising won through. This was at the time when people did not like their hair to move. Hats were becoming a bit, well, old hat and so people were using their hair as a surrogate certainty, and like most surrogates they required to have qualities similar to the original.
Not only did I want my hair not to move, I thought I could do a better job of cutting it myself. I am being a tad disingenuous here, as the real reason I was giving the barber a miss, was because I could not stand hair going down the back of my neck, and if I could cut it myself I could institute appropriate measures to reduce such an event taking place. I had challenged the hairdresser, a Mister Flockhume, on this but he protested that not a single hair had ventured south of my white polyester collar, yet I could always sense the occasional follicle escapee, either in reality, or in my head. Anyway, it was the uncertainty that troubled me most and with this in mind I bought myself a hair trimmer. This was the time when infomercials were beginning to appear on T.V. and people like K-Tel and Ronco were pushing their wares at every turn.
So I ordered one, and when it arrived, I unwrapped the brown paper and found a small box that once opened evoked great promise. Though it looked like a lice comb from hell, with its double sided line of teeth and razors embedded, it resembled a serrated guillotine, curiosity of the unknown prevailed and won me over.
From the start difficulties began to become apparent. As each side of the device had a business end, handling proved rather awkward and, in addition, it soon became obvious that cutting your own hair required standing outside of yourself. That was only possible metaphorically, so plan B saw me with a mirror in hand, held in such a way as to reflect the reflection of the back of my head. This was where the hallway mirror came in useful. But this was not plane sailing, for as well as the fact that one hand was already employed there was the problem, which the nautical phrase invoked, in that the sea was not a plane flat surface and neither was the mirror, which had a fish-eye glass. So this was where dreamy theory and real reality began to part company.
I commenced to cut my hair, with large swatches falling to the floor like frayed cloth. After two or three cuts the blades were showing signs of becoming dull, causing further tugging, which brought forth the occasional yelp as the blade dug in. Yet everything seemed on track and as I finished off, the inspection that followed did not seem to disappoint. The occasional sight of blood was written off as work in progress: something that would be resolved by practise. Overall I was pleased with my first attempt, and being my own barber gave great satisfaction. And so, with this in mind, I went through to the kitchen. Though not looking for a second opinion, nevertheless I was given one anyway. My mother dropped one of her Aynsley Bone China tea-cups, collateral damage that would later be added to my charge sheet, for it broke the integrity of the set I was told, and caused her to shed tears, but whether the cause or the effect was to blame, for the origin of her precipitation remained unclear, I never could fathom. My father took a different tack and found it all very amusing, so much so, he hurried off and returned armed with his Instamatic, firing off all four sides of his flash cube, just to get “that special moment.”
So, like most gadgets, the DIY hair trimmer never lived up to the hype, and was filed in the ashcan. I was sent off the next day for some damage limitation, an exercise the austere Mister Flockhume carried out without any comment save to ask if I wanted something for the weekend.
Although looking a lot older than my years, I was still quite young and in my naivety I said.
“Do you have any smoky bacon flavour?”
At first he looked confused, lifting his scissors from my hair, he paused for a moment, looking at my reflection, he then returned to his industry replying in his monotone voice.
“I can see sir is a man of the world.”