Anything For The Weekend?

August 23, 2007 at 8:03 am Leave a comment


Anything For The Weekend?

I had my hair cut last week. As you can see from the Little Me (my avatar), I am a little salt n’pepper, in a kind of Clooneyesque kind of way. I wish. I used to hate going to the barbers when I was younger. It was a chore. Well, I was a child of the 70s. In Birmingham. In a family where clothes were knitted by mom and grandma, or handed down from cousin to cousin. I was the youngest boy at this time. Many of my clothes were third hand. I was not exactly fashionable. I was dressed by my mom. These were the days when teenagers were not financially independent. You wore what you were given. What you were told to wear. I wasn’t really into self-image. Indeed, shopping used to be quite an ordeal. I remember once when I was about 12 or 13 and needed new trousers for school. Mom took me to M&S. These were the days before M&S had changing rooms. Mom insisted that I try the trousers on. She made me strip to my undies in the middle of the store: “Go on! No-one is looking at you!”. It was hugely embarrassing. I was beetroot red. Everyone was looking. Especially all the hot girls. Y-fronts. How embarrassing.

Indeed, until I met C, I was never really into clothes or image at all. C is now my fashion advisor. My guru. She is very good at it. She chooses very well for me. I am now Mr Designer Label! Ben Sherman. Ted Baker. Gant.

I wasn’t very good at shopping for myself. And, this was made much worse by the fact that I am colour blind. Totally colour blind. Blue/violet; red/green colour blind. I have to concentrate really hard to spot the grid-lines on maps. Or rivers. I once had a major presentation to make to senior bods in the days before C. When I got to the office the girls sent me straight back home. I had a green jacket and blue trousers. I thought they matched. I made it back to the office just in time and colour-coordinated. I got the investment that I was looking for.

On another occasion I got totally confused by a presentation that I was on the receiving end of. I was getting completely the opposite impression to the one that I was expecting. The presentation was using white text out of a blue background. Apart from the key words that is. Words like “not” and “very” and “must”. The key words were in red text. Red out of blue, and totally invisible to yours truly! I blame my grandma. Colour-blindness is carried through the female line.

Anyhow, shopping, when I was a bachelor, involved much reliance upon home shopping from the Next Catalogue – these being the days before the Internet. This had the advantage that “trying on” was a private affair. And, you could send the clothes back if they didn’t fit. And, the lingerie section in the catalogue was always worth a browse…..

In any case, I didn’t really enjoy getting my haircut in my teenage years. But, my attitude to barbers and to haircuts has changed significantly over the years. The change is due in some small part to my increased affluence and in much greater part to the advice, nay instructions of my wife, C. Long gone are the short back and sides with a side parting of my youth and the “just a quick trim and a number three at the back and sides” of my early 20s.

As a teenager in Erdington, my local barber was selected more on the distance that I would have to walk and, perhaps most importantly, on the physical attributes of the female hair stylists. Getting your hair cut was an opportunity to sit ogling the stylist for the 10 minutes or so you were sat in the chair and the 30 minutes or so that you were sat in the waiting area pouring over The Sun or The Mirror newspaper, waiting your turn. If you were really lucky the stylist would rub against you as she gracefully danced around you with her comb, scissors and clippers. Your excitement was carefully hidden beneath the cape thing that they throw over you, so it was a perfectly safe pastime. The haircuts were shite though. I think the stylists somehow knew…..and this was their way of reaping their revenge.

My current “barbers” is a chic gentleman’s boutique-type place in suburban Cheshire. There are no female stylists, only well-groomed men of dubious sexuality. The Sun has given way to FHM, GQ and similar blokey magazines. The styling process takes considerably longer and the wallet is considerably lighter than in the old days back in Erdington. But, I do believe that the hair is looking a lot better. The “rubbing against” fantasy is now less frequent, consigned as it is to the occasional appearance in my life of a dental nurse. Dental nurses, however, have the additional advantage of wearing a uniform!. However, when lying down on a dentist’s chair/couch, it is far, far harder to hide any erection. Thank goodness for the pain, it takes your mind off it somewhat…..

In all my years of going to the barbers I have never been offered “anything for the weekend”. Condoms in the early 80s were still very elusive even at the height of the so-called Aids epidemic. You couldn’t buy them in supermarkets like you can today. I can remember the humiliating experience of buying condoms for the first time for the first attempt at “going all the way” with my then girlfriend. I hovered around the pharmacy counter of the local Boots chemist for an absolute age. I was scanning the shop like a would-be bank robber, checking that there was no one around who knew me. I waited eons for the OAPs (“Old Aged Pensioners”. I think we call them “senior citizens” now that our own parents have joined the club) to collect their prescriptions or acquire their supplies of blue rinse, germolene and Fisherman’s Friends. How pungent!

Incidentally, there should be separate shopping times, or separate lanes, or separate shops for old people, don’t you think? Especially at Christmas! They have all that time on their hands during the week and then decide to go shopping exactly when you need to. They are so slow and always get in the way. I think that the only reason they do this is because they have all shrunk in size and require the assistance of people like me to retrieve their favourite items from the top shelves. Or, maybe it is just cheaper for them than having to heat their own homes. Maybe it is loneliness or confusion. I am not looking forward to getting old myself.

In any case, I waited until the pretty young sales assistant was free. Pure torture! Why are they always female, pretty and young? I thrust my packet of Durex Extra (ha!) towards her, watched as she slowly, teasingly, placed it in a brown paper bag. Anonymity guaranteed, I don’t think. I thrust my money at her and hurriedly turned on my heels to make my escape. “Don’t forget your change, Sir!” she called after me, loudly. All heads turned. I turned, blushed, grabbed my change and ran with the eyes of every OAP lady and grandmother in Birmingham burning into my back – “we know what you are up to young man…..” durex


Entry filed under: Birmingham, childhood memories, humour, middleman. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Let’s Be Careful Out There! Grumpy Old Man Part 1

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