Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Magic Razor Comb of Death

See that photo of those two kids ?
Ignore the monkeys, they are nothing to do with this discussion.
Although why we were posing with monkeys in Scarborough is probably a topic worthy of its own post.

Thats me and Ned that is.
Me on the right.
The monkeys are the smaller mammals in the photo
Time has erased their names from memory so I cannot give them an acknowledgement.

The year ?
I'm guessing around 1964, I'm about eight, Ned about six, the monkeys, unknown, it doesn't matter about the monkeys, I keep saying.

Yes, the monkeys are wearing woollen coats, yes it is Scarborough in August, the monkeys were probably cold ok, coming from an equatorial climate like they would have done straight into a northeast coast holiday resort in the height of a British summer can't have been easy for them, even the promise of a glamorous lifestyle as a catwalk monkey model, a monkey supermodel, a fortune in peanuts awaits you, even that cannot have prepared them for the sea breeze that blew unhindered all the way from Norway every day of our holiday, anyway, forget the friggin monkeys, its not their story.

The real story is those haircuts.
And how we came to have them.

The clue is in my fringe -see how straight it is ?
Thats not a fringe that has been cut by any barber worth his salt is it ?
Thats a fringe thats been cut by a father that is.
A father who won't pay out for barbers
A father who bought a Magic Razor Comb from a classified advert.

It came through the post in a small box wrapped in plain brown paper and tied up with string, the Magic Razor Comb of Death, the first and only time our dad had ever sent for anything from a newspaper advert, a newspaper advert that promised him that he'd never have to pay for haircuts for his two boys again, promised him that cutting his two boys hair would be as simple as combing it, promised him that we wouldn't even know he was cutting our hair, so quick and painless it would be, in fact correct that last statement, the advert for the Magic Razor Comb of Death never even mentioned pain.

It should have done.
The Magic Razor Comb of Death was an implement of excrutiating torture.

A flat, square, beige plastic object, palm sized with a comb on two of its sides the Magic Razor Comb of Death held within its plastic comb teeth a razor blade, which to the best of my knowledge was never changed by our dad, he being of the belief that when the newspaper advert ad said "you will never spend another penny on haircuts again" then that meant that he would literally never spend another penny on haircuts again and that things like replacement razorblades were un-necessary and a vexation to his wallet.

Our hair was checked by him every Sunday night.
Every Sunday night we had a bath, yes thats right, in the 1960's people did not bathe every day, in the UK we had not heard of the marvellous continental fashion of showering, we bathed once a week and had a "sink job" for the other six days, but thats another story.

After our Sunday night bath we would be led into the living room, the only warm room in the house, where our dad would inspect our hair for length and tidyness, and once every four weeks or so he would simply command us to bring a stool in from the kitchen and sit in front of the fire whilst he rummaged in the sideboard drawer for the Magic Razor Comb of Death.

Newspaper spread on the floor to prevent bloodstaining the carpet, Ned would be first on the Stool of Torture, the Magic Razor Comb of Death never cut a single hair on our heads, its simply wrenched each hair out by its roots, often in clumps of hair, often with the scalp attached, and from the Stool of Torture it made a noise like tearing paper as it went about its work, the worst part being when it often snagged in your hair and you'd be wrenched all over the place while our dad tugged and pulled to free it and liberate another clump of knotted hair from your scalp.

It was pain beyond description and I would have admitted to any indescretion during the torture in order to make it stop, pain not only from the tearing out of our hair but pain from the slaps around the back of the head to stop us screaming out in pain, pain to stop pain, I suppose there is a theory in there somewhere but I'm buggered if I can work out what it is.

{scraaaaa-aape} would go the Magic Razor Comb of Death
"Aye -eeeeeiiii" would scream our Ned
{slap} and "Shutup" would come the reply
"Ouch" would cry our Ned

{scraaaaa-aape} would go the Magic Razor Comb of Death
"Aye -eeeeeiiii" would scream our Ned
{slap} and "Shutup" would come the reply
"Ouch" would cry our Ned

{scraaaaa-aape} would go the Magic Razor Comb of Death
"Aye -eeeeeiiii" would scream our Ned
{slap} and "Shutup" would come the reply
"Ouch" would cry our Ned

And when it was finished the newspaper on the floor would be covered with whole pieces of hair, complete with roots, blood and flesh, the result of which can clearly be seen in the monkey picture (above), the only saving grace being that we weren't the only ones who's dad was a cheapskate and had been lured by the promise of never having to pay for another haircut, ever.

We all had shit haircuts, all of our friends, we were the shit haircut gang.
Thanks to the Magic Razor Comb of Death.

The monkeys had nice haircuts though.


Anonymous said...

Its not a separate window now!

John_D said...

Bless you Gary. You've not changed at all.

I've a photo of an unsmiling self with younger brother with monkeys in Scarborough as well, probably 15 years after that one. Neither of us were pouting quite so outrageously as thee though.
The 70s was a different time though. Monkeys were exotic and so was Scarborough. At least until I finally broke the shackles and left Yorkshire for the first time for the heady delights of Enschede on the Dutch-German border in 1990.

Zoe's Dad said...

My mom used a bowl and a pair of scissors. Sharp scissors. Last haircut she gave me she nearly cut my ear off. Unlike your dad, though, she couldn't stand the blood and quit. Unfortunately for me she wasn't done with the haircut.

Gary said...

I'm so glad that we are a more enlightened society now and children simply will not let us cut their hair unless a genuine, fee-paying, licensed, internationally recognised, and most importantly, "cool at their school" hairdresser does it.

But mark my words, one day the pudding bowl look will return.

And now that its just not cool to have your photo taken with a monkey these days, just what has happened to the worlds small monkey population ?

Is there a monkey skid row where monkeys gather and talk of the old times when peanuts were theirs for the taking, a time when the world couldn't get enough of their cheeky chattering ways, a day when they had three or four small knitted cardigans to wear of a morning and of how they made old women scream in terror if they rummaged in their hair for hat pins ?

I'll tell you what has happened, they all hang out in safari parks now and are resigned to spend the rest of their lives stealing windscreen wipers and car radio aerials with not one woolly jumper in sight.

Jeff said...

This is too funny for words!

Especially if you consider what I went through as a kid here.

Gary said...

Jeff... Oh my god !!!

You had the magic razor comb of death too !!!

And theres another one, I was reminded of the magic razor comb of death when browsing another blog somewhere, unfortunately I've forgotten which one it was now...

Sam said...

Ha. The monkeys are funny!