It's no secret that I have been cursed with what was referred to throughout my childhood as 'tufty' hair. Loosely translated: thick, wiry and not unlike that of a person who has lived rough for years. Tragically, on the sides of my bonce (good word that, bonce), it tends to grow outwards and in a horizontal line - laughing triumphantly in the face of gravity.
If I leave it longer than a fortnight, I end up looking like an industrial toilet brush, except shitter (see what I did there? Boom! Boom!) And that's just not okay. As a result, I make sure I get it tamed each fortnight: a quick buzz on the sides and then a trim on top to ensure that I remain looking vaguely human rather than someone who you wouldn't leave your kids with. However, because I go so frequently, I end up developing a relationship with the barber and that's where things tend to go awry...
For years, I went to Fat Hamit, a Turkish bloke who had his own shop at the end of the road where I was then living. The problem was, as I got to know him, the quality of his output lessened. He was too busy filling me in on the machinations of his life to pay much attention to the job in hand. I would leave, thanking him for a good cut and then go home and despair in the mirror, wondering why I'd paid fifteen quid to look like an impoverished Romanian lesbian circa 1984. But still, I'm as loyal as the proverbial butcher's dog and we were in an exclusive barbery relationship / cycle of abuse, so every fortnight I would go back for more. I walked past his shop every day - it was at the end of the road, so there was escaping him. Then one day, after asking for a short, back and sides and being given a next generation mullet with fancy bangs, something had to give. My opportunity to consciously uncouple with Fat Hamit presented itself when he decided to visit Turkey for a month.
While he was away, I happily cheated on him with a barber down the road and because I would leave the salon looking relatively human, I elected to jump Fat Hamit's scissory ship for good. It was awkward though: being thoroughly British, I had to pretend to be on the phone every time I walked past the shop, which wasn't often. I would go a completely out-of-the-way route just to avoid seeing him. At one point, I considered hiding myself under a hat, but hats make me look more of a simpleton than Fat Hamit's cuts did, so it was a false aesthetic economy all round.
After Fat Hamit, I settled into my new hair-care relationship with an Italian outfit down the road, but after a couple of years this too started to lose its appeal. It wasn't the calibre of the cut, it was the time that it took for me to get what I wanted. On average, they would take about half an hour per cut and it wasn't unusual to wait two hours to get in the chair. What ground my gears was that they'd often stand around and chat with customers way after they had paid, delaying matters even further. Or they'd just disappear for twenty minutes, reappear for three minutes with a cup of tea in their hands and then disappear into the back again, never to be seen again. I get that they needed breaks, but when you've been sitting there for that long that you can feel your hair growing and your ends splitting, it gets HIGHLY FUCKING irritating. So one day after I'd been sitting there for an hour and a half with no end in sight, I found myself missing Fat Hamit.
I formed a plan in my head which I executed swiftly. I fingered my phone menu and set my phone ringer off, pretended to answer the non-existent call and fled the shop. When I arrived at Fat Hamit's, my fantasy of a reunion not seen since Robbie re-joined Take That, evaporated.
Picture the scene: Fat Hamit's shop is empty. He is sitting at the till, idly thumbing through The Sun. The shop still carries a faint whiff of dirty fat. Reassuring but foul, etc.
Me: (Opens door, walks in as though I'd never stopped going there) How are you doing, Hamit?
Fat Hamit: (Slowly puts paper on the desk, looks at me and narrows his eyes). Is... you! You!
Me: Hmmm, yeah. Is me. How are things?
Fat Hamit: You ditched me. Where you be?
Me: What? What are you talking about?
Fat Hamit: You ditched me. I go holiday. You never come back.
(A quick aside here. I tend not to lie because I'm ridiculously bad at it and always over egg the pudding. I mean, a quiche could take lessons...)
Fat Hamit: Tell me, maaaan! Where you be?
Me: Well, the thing is, while you were away, my house-thingy got flooded and I had to move out unexpectedly. So I moved back to, er, Nottingham? Yeah, Nottingham... and also, the other thing is, I ended up moving above a barber shop so I just went there. I meant to come and tell you, but obviously it's a long way away. And I er, couldn't make it.
Fat Hamit: Hmmm.
Me: But! I am back now!
Fat Hamit: Take. A. Seat.
Me: How's your wife?
Fat Hamit: You would know if you no run away and ditch me like the son of the bitch.
Me: Well, yes. Quite.
Fat Hamit was clearly unhappy. Whereas he used to be chatty, now he was silent; an expression of betrayal-fuelled hatred etched onto his face. He sought his revenge via the haircut he delivered. I left looking like my head had had a chem-sex threesome with Mad Slasher and One-Eyed fucking Jack. I smiled and promised him that I'd be back soon. Needless to say, I've never set foot back in the place. Fat Hamit can piss off.
I now patronise a barber shop close to where I work. They are ruthlessly efficient - in and out in twenty minutes - and because they can barely speak English (suits me), I can't get too attached, which is good, because after a brief honeymoon period, the lure of the place is starting to wane. The other week, the chap snipped away at my head while watching an Arabic soap opera. And the thing is, I don't feel like I can complain for the simple reason that he's holding a pair of scissors. I've seen Sweeney Todd. I know how it all plays out.
I went there again the other day and there was incident that has put me off for good. Your man held on to the top of my head while he clipped the sides. Suddenly he stopped, picked his nose and used his index finger to retrieve a huge bogey from his conk. He then made eye-contact with me via the mirror we were both looking in (if you’re interested, at this point I resembled the character in Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting.) He held my gaze as he wiped it on his t-shirt and then casually went back to holding the top of my head. All I could think was that the DIRTY BOGEY finger was now holding my head. I wish I was lying when I said that I got home and used three Flash antibacterial wipes on my head.
Once upon a time, I was seeing someone who left a pair of pants next to my bed. Concealed in said pants was a skid mark that Evil Knievel would have been proud of. I, on the other hand, was less than amused and dispensed with said lover quicker than you can say, ‘pass the moist wipes.’ It turns out that this leopard’s spots aren’t changing anytime soon and I’m going to have to find a new barber. That, or embrace the simpleton look and buy a nice top hat that I can stash my tresses under.
Hmmm… decisions, decisions.