The International Writers Magazine
Macpherson ain't bitter she's my barber...
will it be? said the short and rather rounded hairdresser
in that saccharin drenched tone she must use on every customer from
morning until evening.
myself on the patent leather chair. I remember when I was younger when
they had to place a small padded board across the arms so I would be
Um, Grade five back and sides, thinned and straight forward please
I said; robotically - as if she should have known anyway. She was new.
She wasnt the one with the red hair that I usually had, or the
blonde one with the long face who talked about Christmas in July. Snip.
Day off work? she said in the same annoying tone.
Oh I said, not really caring, actually its a
day off from University. Clip.
Oh she replied. Snip. Nothing. No conversation. Something
Corporate was on the radio. Strange, I thought: theyre not that
popular in the UK. Grrr: the razor started; and it was at
this point, amidst If U C Jordan distorting, the gay hairdresser
next door screeching with a cackle, and the whirr of the razor she decided
to engage conversation. What course are you studying?"
I hate it when people ask me that, because I can guarantee their reply.
Either they know it all or they know nothing. So, in anticipation of
the inevitable I thought I might as well have my five minutes of infamy
and brag a bit. Im actually studying a double honours degree
in English & Creative Arts. And the inevitable happened. Oh,
thats interesting. Then the most stupid question: What
do you have to do for that then?.
I really did feel like saying Study Van Gogh and learn Arabic,
but this might have pushed the sarcasm too far. Read a lot of
novels and act a bit here and there. It was my day off. I didnt
want to talk about University. I wanted to talk about how miserable
the weather was; how she had four screaming children at her child minders
and where I lived in relation to her employment. At a push, I suppose
the recent news of serial killer Harold Shipmans suicide may have
made for interesting barber shop conversation. But no: all she did was
go on about how she read this and that at school but never really did
anything with it. But she could have done! Oh yes, Undergrad in the
making was my barber today.
The next level of conversation really did amaze me. Weve all heard
of bar room philosophers, well this was a barber shop philosopher.
I had briefly explained that I had to do some acting in a few weeks
for a production of The Threepenny Opera. And then I got caught. I knew
the moment I opened my mouth I had made a mistake. Well, I suppose
we all act in a way in every day life dont we?. Snip, clip,
cut. Thats the last thing I wanted to hear. After being regaled
(with little option otherwise) with my barbers views of life and careers
prospects for me, I cut my losses after she had cut (too much) of my
hair, and left. Oooh she said as I paid her the fee. Well
be seeing you on television soon then wont we? And I can say I
cut his hair for him when he was at Uni.
Yes. Maybe I said, leaving the shop. A wry smile attempted
to flash across my face. Keep the change.
© Ben Macpherson 2004
Art of Shopping with Mother
Ben Macpherson is off his trolley
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