Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We wanted a haircut, not scalping

Its 1967, the summer of love, Scott McKenzie was urging us all to go to San Francisco, The Beatles were imploring that all we needed was love, Procul Harem assured us that there really was a whiter shade of pale and as a ten year old you just wanted a square neck instead of a short back and sides.

It was important.
A short back and sides was so square, unlike a square neck, which was cool.
Hair that is.

In 1967 there were only two hair styles for boys, the choice of everyone's mother was a short back and sides, a traditional very short hair cut for boys, the haircut for boys since they stopped shaving heads for lice in the 1800's, if you were a boy you had a short back and sides once a month and you put up with it and when you went to school after having one you put up with the piss taking until it was someone elses turn to have a short back and sides.

The short back and sides haircut was cut short on top and then shaved at the back and sides, its sounds trendy to today's ears, but it was far from trendy believe me, a boy today would still recoil from a short back and sides.

There was a trendy 1960's alternative though.
The square neck.

The square neck was still cut short on top but instead of being shaved at the back and sides it was cut short and shaped around the ears leaving pretend sideburns, and the back was short but shaped and cut "square" at the bottom being almost collar length - it was the haircut of choice for boys, but many mothers would not allow it and most barbers did not know of it for barbers were still very traditional places and anything other than shaving the back and sides would be greeted with a glare as if the boy had just asked for a perm and some highlights.

The day in question was another one of those long, hot summer days that we all recall from our school summer holidays, in practice not many days were long, hot or sunny but thats how we all remember them.

Our gang was ten strong and by some remarkable coincidence we had all arrived at the point in the summer holidays where all of our mothers were threatening us with a visit to the barbers for "a nice haircut" to go back to school with, we all knew that if our mothers took us to the barbers then it would be a short back and sides and no questions asked, and so we all conspired to tell our mothers that one of the other mothers had offered to take us and could we have the money for a haircut.

Of course there was no actual "other mother" to take us and if we'd been really smart we'd have taken the haircut money and spent it all on something else, but we must have been honest because we all planned to go together to a barber's in Horsforth who was fabled to know of this "square neck" hairstyle, ten of us would hit the shop all at the same time and he wouldn't be able to refuse our trendy requests, would he ?

Corquerhan the barber's name was, "Corker" for short and he was rumoured to be a right bastard, being a bit savage with the electric clippers around the ear of any boy who fidgeted in the chair and according to rumour had actually taken a chunk out of and drawn blood from a kid in the year below us, if we'd really thought this through properly we would have instinctively known that this old bastard could not possibly know of the "square neck" that we all coveted, but the rumour was that he did them all day long, so we went to Corkers barber shop, all of us clutching our half crown haircut money.

The barber shop was empty when we arrived, ten strong, Corker looked up from reading his newspaper, a large rotund man with a grey Hitler moustache his head almost bald except for a long strand down the middle of his head which was firmly laquered into place, as a barber he did not believe in displaying his barbering skills on his own head.

Upon seeing all of us shoving the others in the door he stood, folded his newspaper and stood by his chair and regarded us with a stern expression, "Stop messing about, who's for the haircut then ?" he demanded.

"All of us" we replied, his expression changed, ten customers all at once, he must have thought it was christmas.

The electric clippers were already running as Stuart Ackroyd took to the seat and had the big dirty blue sheet wrapped around his neck and tucked in the back of his collar, his cry of "A square neck please Corker" was lost as the clippers bit into the first chunk of hair and whined their way up the back of his head leaving just bare scalp and a little pinch of blood where Corker had hit the flesh a bit too hard.

The nine of us seated in a row behind the chair stared at each other in horror, this was no square neck, this was, this was, a ......short back and sides.

We mouthed the phrase to each other, one of us shouted out the confirmation "He wants a square neck..." but it was to no avail and Corker simply turned his head slightly and shouted back "You what ?" over the noise of the oldest electric hair clippers in the district, Stuart Ackroyd now had half a short back and in the reflection in the mirror he could see us signalling to him that it was all going wrong and we wanted out.

We wanted out so badly that it only took one of us, and history has not recorded which one it was, to shout the magical word reserved for boyhood emergencies..."RUN !!!" and run we did, including Stuart Ackroyd who leapt from the chair with the back of his head only half shaved, dirty blue sheet still wrapped tightly around his neck, we ran and we ran down Horsforth Town Street with Corker persuing us for his dirty blue sheet back until Stuart Ackroyd managed to untangle himself from it and let it fly in the wind leaving Corker to pick it up from the road and shake a fist full of combs and scissors at our rapidly fleeing backs.

However, the worst haircut awaited us back at home and the "magic razor", but thats for another time...


Anonymous said...

Thought you'd enjoy this!


Gary said...

Very nice, I like those very much

Dan said...

Not that I imagine you'll know what's happening, but do you know your rss feed doesn't seem to be working?

I read you through google reader and i thought you'd been uncharacteristically quiet recently, but when i checked your blog there was three or four posts that hadn't been showing.

Any idea what's going on? Have you changed a setting or something? Or shall we just ignore it and hope it gets better?

Gary said...

Dan, thanks for that - I did click a button or two when I was trying to install the MP3 player - shall have to see if I can remember where now ...

Gary said...

The feeds were being redirected to Feedburner since last week, I've turned that off now so see if it helps.

Dan said...

It works now, cheers.