People ask me “stegzy How do you get your hair to look so fine and bountiful?”
“Easy” I reply “I leave it the fuck alone”
Some people are shocked by such a response and end up moving away muttering to themselves under their breath but others quiz me further until I move away muttering to myself. I’m a firm believer in letting nature take it’s course. Nothing goes on my hair other than water, the occasional bit of shampoo, air and a bit of finger grease. I wash it when it feels mucky. I tend not to brush it vigorously and I never apply any gels, oils, creams or poultices. I leave it the fuck alone.
The same goes for having it cut. For really special occasions and that I’ll have it cut if it is required. So I go for the natural look. Nothing artificial goes on it, plain and simple. Though it hasn’t always been that way. Indeed, there was a time when I used to frequent hair dressers or barbers on a regular timetable. I’d happily part with my £5 for 20 minutes under the scissors of (an often) camp chap while they gave me a short back and sides a la my dad in the 1950’s. Of course I didn’t know any better. Easy money for no work at all imho. (Apologies to any hairdressers that read this)
Initial Visits – Norman
I can’t remember my first excursion to a hair technician. I imagine it was probably what used to be called Norman’s. Owned, surprisingly, by a chap called Norman, Norman’s was a traditional barbers shop. As far as I can remember it has occupied the same little shop at the Grange Lane crossroads in Gateacre in Liverpool. It could be that a barber has occupied that shop since it was built. I have no idea, but I do know that I’ve only ever known it as a barbers shop. The shop may have had a red and white barbers pole on the outside and it may have had a horrid interior. It was so long ago I can’t remember.
Norman was a typical scouse bloke. He was always cheery but he had a reputation as being a bit “close to the scalp”. Indeed, such was his reputation as a scalper my friend at the time Guy would often relate to me stories about how Norman had decapitated a man during a Number One all over.
Such stories were unfounded as Guy frequented Tuzios in Hunts Cross and Tuzio had a reputation of bumming little boys in the back room (again unfounded).
What I do remember of the shops interior was that the barber’s chair was an awful cranky uppie thing upon which Norman would place a plank of wood for small boys to sit on. Upon the walls there were black and white photographs of men with various stylish hair styles. None of which I actually saw being achieved by or asked of Norman. The pictures had you wanting to be stylish and they had you wanting to be swarve because the guys in the pictures were obviously swarve and stylish. They probably drove fast cars, wore white socks with their black brothel creepers and generally lounged about looking cool. Though they were probably not.
Norman continued to be the barbers of choice for several years of my childhood. Ceasing to be such by the time I was in my early teens and my eldest brother decided that the side parted mummy’s boy geeky look was probably not doing me any favours.
Millionhairs – Corny 80’s hair
My eldest brother used to insist that shellsuits were the dogs knob of fashion and that the brighter the colours the better. Indeed he also advocated the vogue of spiky Bros like flat tops and copious amounts of styling gel. My eldest brother was also insistent that a VIC 20 was far superior to a Spectrum 48k and that XR3i’s were better than Capris. In effect my eldest brother was a victim of the 80’s in a big and embarrassing way. He lapped up the latest trends like a dog laps water after a very long walk.
So it comes as no surprise that as a susceptible teen I was taken by him to a stylish hairdresser rather than a God awful barber like Norman. He whisked me off to the clichéd Millionhairs in some dirty back street of St Helens in Lancashire (near where he lived). The hair dresser, whose name I forget now, was as camp as Butlins, Pontins and Stalag Luft 44 all merged together and sprinkled with a bit of Xray and baked in an Auschwitz case.
The exterior was nothing special. No barbers pole this time. The inside of the shop was like something out of an 80’s cop show. All pampas grass, plush leather couches and the like. I was given a diet coke(!). I had my hair washed (first time at a hairdressers ever). I had it styled, sculpted and preened. I felt great. In fact when I got home my mum looked so pleased to see her new style boy with his turquoise track suit and gelled Bros hair cut.
But try as I might, even with all the Brylcreme in the world I could not make my hair go like it did that day. It would flop, go too crusty or make my head itch. Furthermore, this new look did me no favours and in fact the taunts got worse. Bollocks to that.
Herberts of Liverpool
My brother moved from St Helens to the newly growing new town of Runcorn. What an awful place that was too. As a consequence of him being away from the town of St Helens it meant that having my hair cut again at Millionhairs would prove to be tricky. Instead my dad encouraged me to try Herberts in Liverpool. What a fucking travesty that was. I had my hair cut by a trainee. I looked a right sight.
The more observant of you will probably know Herbert as being a bit of an E-list celebrity. He had a TV show in the 80s/90’s and has a reputation as being the best hairstylist in Liverpool. Pity about his trainees really. I think my experience there was so bad I’ve blocked it from my mind entirely. In fact whenever I see Herbert on the telly I start rocking back and forth, humming to myself while foaming at the mouth. I think I even went back to Normans a couple of times.
Boy’s and Curls
Dear God. It gets worse. The Eldest brother (do you see a pattern here?) moved once more, this time to Belle Vale in Liverpool. Being nearer to the family home meant that his choice of hairdresser was the choice we all had to make. So it was Boy’s and Curls.
Boy’s and Curls was originally a barbers shop. It was were all the Netherley scrotes and Lee Park Scallies went to get their nit infested heads shaved. Worried about the reputation of being a nit shop, Boy’s and Curls reinvented themselves as a stylish boutique with black and white checkered flooring, bright lights and mirrors but held onto that “Come ‘ere lad while I chop some of your girly hair off” feel. But trapped like a rat in a corner I would reluctantly attend the shop at the bequest of my mother. “Goangetyeraircut” she would screech at me.
Old habits die hard – His and Hairs, Sheffield
Then I became a student in Sheffield. As my 20’s are now mostly a fuss of misshapen memory I will relate what I can remember of my one and only hair cut in Sheffield.
I’d been away from home about a month when my mum said to me that I must remember to get my hair cut. I mulled over this for weeks until one day I’m doing my laundry and I noticed that the shop next to the laundrette was a Unisex Salon.
Having made a foolish mistake in the past of going into a Unisex Salon and expecting the people there to cut my hair only to be told “We don’t do men” I thought what harm would it do to nip in and ask while I waited for my crusty bedsheets to finish their wash.
“Do you cut men’s hair?” I asked and was answered by a fit of giggles and a rather jovial Jamaican woman hairdresser. I had my head pulled from side to side, the ends of the scissors stabbed into my scalp and I’m bloody lucky to still have ears I can tell you.
Fortunately the last I heard about that shop was that it had caught fire. Bloody good job I say.
The present day – From Tony & Guy to Highlights
So as you can guess, my experience with hairdressers and barbers has been one of chaos and discomfort. In the early 90’s when I’d returned to Liverpool I met Min. Who told me that he hadn’t had a hair cut for years. I idolised Min, he was the youth I wanted to be. Carefree, pot smoking, rocker type. His hair was so long it put Rapunzel to shame. Using my new found confidence I put my foot down and refused to get my hair cut.
Of course refusal is often fraught with times when you just give in to protests of “Get your hair cut”. So in order to maintain a quality head of hair I only allow highly qualified stylists near my bonse, meaning I have to go to Toni & Guy’s. Indeed, I had to have a couple of knots cut out before then and a visit to Highlights in Grimethorpe was called for on the recommendation of Mrs Gnomepants. But I resent paying large sums of money for hardly any work. I find it obscene that some people (mainly women) will gladly fritter away upwards of £50 for less than an hour under the scissors. Indeed, if such people would like to save half that money, come to Brierley and I’ll cut your hair for you.
And so drawing this post to a close (thank God I hear you cry) I’d like to thank Carole for the excellent trim she gave me a couple of months ago. She did a damn fine job. For free. And in less than 20 minutes.
This post originally appeared on Livejournal in 2008