If you want to look good, you go to a beautician at the salon. If you are looking for a specific style, of course, you should go to the hairdresser. If, however, you simply want a haircut, look no further than the barber shop.
I have been going to the local barber now for close on thirty five years. I know him. He knows me. I knew his father. He knows my children. This is a family business.
I usually go to the barber shop about once a month. Short back and sides ever since I was a little kid. Nothing much changes in my grooming.
The price certainly has though. From a couple of shillings to a tenner for the job and a kindly tip in appreciation for his service.
But I have absolutely no complaints.
I wait my turn before taking my seat in the chair and take reflection in the long panelled mirror to the tune of the panpipes liked so much by the barber and his father before him.
I look at myself long and hard during these thirty odd minutes.
The barber is meticulous in his actions, an artist at work, an observer of men, a symbol of life.
In these memorable, passing minutes, I can contemplate my whole life, who I am, where I have been, where I am now and where I am going next.
The other waiting customers are my audience and this is an uncut, unrehearsed, uneditable dress rehearsal where no appointment is required and every paying customer plays his part.
Smartphones have inevitably replaced magazines over recent years but there is still a place for the local weekly newspaper.
Electronics have, not yet anyway, replaced the manual templated sign which traditionally advertises the business tradename of father and son.
The barber assistant of tender, teenage years sweeps up the fallen hair of those that has come before and prepares, tools, towels, razors at the ready for the busy barber.
The barber is a skilled technician in the engagement of his clientele. He knows everything, a module of working class intellect, bearded, moustached, stout, immaculate in his instrumental implementation.
Accreditations achieved with no lack of endeavour or enterprise line the walls of what the barber still calls his cabin and blend in timelessly with posters from another era, one in sexist glorification of French beauty Brigitte Bardot, another a framed, autographed picture of Sean Connery.
The barber’s cabin sits astride a bookies and a laundrette with a bakery on the corner of the precinct.
The barber’s cabin is the solicited abode of the working class man and has pride and place in his life.
Shamefully, once, just once, I did visit a salon a few years ago but I am a man’s man and the thought of a made-up woman attending to my needs felt abhorrent and wrong.
Once the haircut is done, nothing quite beats the close shave given to you by a barber.
The barber shop is where you come to die under the dressing of a cut-throat experience and yet you leave feeling alive, refreshed, rejuvenated, a man reborn.
Until the next time.