Sweets

Pownall’s didn’t look anything like this

When I was a kid and I walked to and from school (paedophilaphobia hadn’t been invented then and so it was perfectly safe to allow children to walk to school) I would pass a lovely little newsagents called Doreen Pownells. Mrs Pownells shop had a lovely smell of calor gas heaters, damp newspapers and icing sugar. The walls were lined on two sides with huge jars of sweets, the other with a small selection of magazines and household essentials. The window display consisted of little pocket money toys and advertisements for popular beverages of the time. The window of the door was bedecked with little adverts one might find in a small shop from people advertising tutoring, cars and cleaning services.

Ah. Mrs Pownells. I can still smell the foisty shop. I can still picture the little yellow tray within which she would vend penny sweets and chews to passing children. I can still picture the beautifully grand cash register. I can still recall the glee at finding half a penny on the floor and rushing in to buy an aniseed ball.

No wonder I have so many fillings.

If I was lucky I might have 10p to spend on my way home. Remember that 10p back then was a lot of money. It would buy you a bag of ten penny sweets or twenty half penny sweets. Penny sweets usually consisted of jazzies, fizzy cola bottles and jellies, Two pence sweets where a bit more adventurous and would mainly comprise of flumps, mojos and blackjacks. If one were lucky enough to have 20p to spend a whole world of luxury was open to you. For there were 5p sweets there too. 5p sweets usually consisted of Bazooka Jo chewing gums and the like. Further more, should one be fortuitous to manage to rustle up a whole pound coin for your sweet indulgences one would find themselves able to afford the 10p beheamoths that were Jawbreakers; a packet of 3 of the hardest gobstoppers you can imagine that actually changed flavour as you sucked them. Ah it is no wonder I have fillings. The amount of money I must have spent in passing would these day probably have fed a family of 6 a couple of soggy chips from the back of the deep fryer.

Sadly now Pownells has long closed. I believe it now sells hot tubs or is a poodle manicurists or something daft. I fear that this is mostly because children no longer walk home from school and no longer spend their hard begged pennies on rubbish like sweets. Woolton village had, at that time, a total of seven newsagents/sweetshops. This, I am sure you agree, is a phenomonal amount to have in such a small location, but all did a very good trade until the coming of the supermarkets and the arrival of paedophilaphobia. This once great selection has diminished to a poxy 2 sweet shops, one of which, Browns, is situated near a high school bus stop so will always do well, the other near the village chippy, a favorite haunt of lunchtime school evaders. Indeed, the village fete magazine which used be issued annually to all villagers for the princely sum of £1, did, in previous times, bulge with small advertisements from the local businesses. Sadly most of these shops, as I say, have gone. The Village Fete is a closed affair if it happens at all, and the village is now just a series of streets with estate agents selling luxury apartments linking the two major supermarkets that have sucked the soul out of the place.

Jazzies yesterday.

The rich diversity. The colourfulness, the SWEETS. All gone. I fear generations will rise not knowing what a jazzie is. I shudder at the thought of children completing highschool without ever tasting a fizzy cola bottle from a penny mix. Though, my fear may be misguided. I know there are online sweet shops that still stock gems like jazzies and cola bottles. I am well aware that you can nip down to Costco and get a box of WHAM bars. The difference is, buying them from a faceless cash and carry or online shop is no substitute for buying them from a crappy little dodgy newsagent using the 5p you’ve managed to forage from gutters and pavements and then running home clutching a grubby looking paper bag. Nor do you have to explain to your mum why you have no appetite for your dinner.

Kids today eh? They don’t know what they’re missing (Probably because they are allergic).


This post first appeared in 2009 on my Livejournal.

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Further ruminations of holidays past

(An edited version of a post previously made on Livejournal in 2007. Now with pictures taken recently)

Recently I have been thinking about the sodden holidays we used to spend in my Uncle Nat’s cottage.

Uncle Nat sold the caravan in favour of a ramshackle husk of a cottage half way up a soggy Welsh mountain. This meant that instead of ending our holiday journey at Porthmadog we would travel the extra 20 or so miles to a remote and (then) little known area of North Wales called Rhiw.

The Cottage

My dad is very handy, DIYwise. So it came as no surprise that Nat would require his assistance when fixing up the cottage. My first journey to the cottage was on a rainy night in March with just me, my dad and Uncle Nat. My dad had a Ford Orion at this time which was a lot more comfortable than the yellow Escort of old but Nat had a lovely comfortable Volvo estate . Initially (and probably because we didn’t know any better) the route would take the same direction of the way to Porthmadog only continuing along the A497 through Criccieth, Pwllheli and Llanbedrog then a quick dash down the B4413 through Myntho and turning down the unclassified road behind the church in Botwnnog until reaching the telegraph pole with the crab on it and turning once again this time up a steep hill to the telephone box and post box which used to stand (until someone drove into them at high speed) at the bottom of the mountain driveway. The first night travelling was straight after school/work and as a result we were both very hungry by the time we got to Criccieth. So we stopped off at a fish and chip shop set back from the road and thus a new family tradition was born, Sausage, chips and Onion Gravy.

Sausage, chips and onion gravy you may think tastes the same the whole world over. It does not. I have travelled far (well at least to the tip of Cornwall and the craggy highlands of Scotland) yet no where have I ever tasted sausage chips and onion gravy as delicious as at that chippy. I defy anyone to tell me otherwise but unless you too have dined there then your opinion on such matters is moot. But since then I have tried to stop there when Aberdaron bound as a homage to the days of travelling to the cottage. Of course, traditions are meant to be forgotten and a further tradition would evolve which I will relate a bit further into this post.

Anyway, on arriving at the telephone and post box at the bottom of the drive it was clear that this would not be a caravan holiday. Far from it. For a start it was pitch black dark. Darker than dark itself. Had someone switched off the dark it would still not have been anywhere near as dark as it was that first night. The drive way was nought but a mud track and taking the Volvo up the mountain side would probably have tested the skills of even the most hardened rally driver. Even the Royal Engineers would have stood round scratching their head for a while trying to work out how to get the blasted car up the hill. My dad tried with the Orion on a future visit but was thwarted by gravity and lack of traction. Fortunately everything was not lost. With the cottage came a Land Rover (old style) so we would unload the bags into the back of the Land Rover and ascend the mountain through the pitch black using the power of 4 wheel drive. Mynnedd Rhiw really lived up to it’s Welsh name. (Mynnedd = mountain Rhiw = Steep).

Arriving at the cottage the coal fire was stoked into life to dry our sodden boots and clothes and I was introduced to the crockloft bedroom. A ladder in the living room led up to a door midway up the wall behind which was the bedroom consisting of two single beds and a very slanty “mind your head” roof in which a single frame window allowed the pitch darkness of outside to leak in. Hot drinks were consumed and the boys own adventure began with bedtime and the promise of mystery come the daylight.

Daylight battled with darkness and at 6am finally won the war. Fingers of light thumped through the little window like a hammer and woke me up. Accompanying the light came the faint sound of far off tractors and the not so far off sound of sheep bleating. I scurried down the ladder into the living room and switched on the old black and white portable TV so that I might watch some breakfast TV (either Wac-a-Day or something with Roland Rat). My disappointment at the black and white picture was soon joined by confusion as the people on the TV were talking in Welsh. I realised this was S4C (a channel my Nan used to watch regularly) but the confusion was brought about by the lack of any other channels. So remote was our location that TV signals refused to come there. Looking out of the window all I could see was grey. Grey and green. Through the grey was the black outline of the Land Rover and the occasional white blob. Closer inspection revealed these white blobs were sheep. The fog was bad but through the fog came the occasional blast of solar energy so it wasnt that bad.

After breakfast and a warming cup of tea I was allowed to go out into the mist (but not far) and explore what I could find. The neighbouring cottage had a swimming pool and the back field had a view of the slope down into the valley disappearing into the fog. Despite the outlook it was very exciting and on my return to Liverpool I told everyone and anyone that would listen about the cottage and how fantastic it was. My dad gave me a police issue whistle with the instruction that should I get lost in the fog or stuck in somewhere up the mountain then I was to blow as hard as I could on the whistle so that the Mountain Rescue could find me. I still carry that whistle on my keys. Just in case I get caught on the moors or somewhere remote.

We took several other trips to the cottage over the following years. Alternating the route through Porthmadog with a much quicker route along the A55 and the craggy North Wales coast. As the A55 route did not take us through Criccieth we would struggle to find a chip shop of equal quality. Instead it would take us past a Little Chef roadside cafe. For years I had wanted to stop at a Little Chef and our first stop was at the one just outside Conway near where the road goes through the tunnels in the mountain side. To celebrate my dad and I would always have the Early Starter Full English and to be a little bit different, a plate of maple syrup pancakes. This sustenance would put us in good stead for the continuation of the journey and heighten our spirits. Of course my Mum did not approve of greasy spoon cafes and so whenever she was with us we would be unable to dine in such salubrious surrounds, opting for sandwiches and juice at a road side table.

On future visits we were joined by Uncle Nat, Aunty Mary and their son Christopher (who, having spent a good deal of time there himself was able to show me where all the secret hidey places where and all the exciting nooks and crannies), my mum, my school chum Dominic Smith, my childhood friend Paul Midgely and my middle brother Chris. Furthermore my mum and dad would head off there for holidays with their friends Freda & Jim and Bill & Lil. So popular was the little cottage that we spent as many holidays as we could there. The cost took the form of renovations with my Dad doing what he enjoys the most – DIY.

On my third or fourth visit it became clear that the fog was low lying cloud. A trip into the nearest town, Aberdaron, revealed that while the mountain was shrouded in fog the rest of the world was enjoying glorious sunshine. That part of the Llyn Peninsula enjoys a micro climate of outstanding weather were when the rest of the UK is having piss poor weather and wearing cagools and wooly jumpers the Llyn would be walking round in shorts and tshirts enjoying the sun and the crystal clear waters of the sea. Indeed, this discovery lead to exploration of the locality by car and there upon we discovered some delightful parts of the world. Aberdaron with its tiny cafe and spectacular beach; Nefyn and Porthdinllaen with its golf course and pub on the beach; the various unspoilt beaches dotted about the coastline and Braich-y-Pwll over looking Bardsey Sound and the remote and holy Bardsey Island.

Braich-y-Pwll still to this day holds very fond memories for me. I try to take as many of my friends there as are willing to share the spectacular views, the peace and serenity of the locale. It is there that my father and I descended the unstable cliff top steps to St Mary’s Well, a natural fresh water well in the treacherous cliffside. In the well other brave tourists had cast coins of all denominations. Now to get to this well you have to be really careful. I get petrified when I go down there and I refuse to let Mrs Gnomepants go there knowing how unsure footed she is. One slip could result in certain death on the sharp and bastard rocks at the bottom of the cliff or failing that drowning in the nasty currents, swells and eddies of Bardsey Sound. Regardless, people to this day brave the journey and still, to my knowledge, cast coins into the well. On discovering the contents of this well, I am ashamed to say, my father and I fished about as best we could to raise £4 from its ice cold depths. There was still a substantial amount of coinage left there. I do not think anyone actually empties the thing as there were old pennies, shillings and farthings lurking at the bottom of the pool. Never the less we took our £4 and spent it in the cafe resturant down the lane.

Pen Bryn Bach is a fantastic restaurant. Owned by Roger, it specialises in locally caught fish. Years after the events I relate here I went there with Mrs Gnomepants and sampled their seafood mornay which is, as you know, my favourite meal ever! They used to do cream teas at lunch time but this practice seems to have ceased. But at the time of the great Well raid they did cream teas and the scones and cream were the best I have ever tasted!

Just as things were getting to be a habit, my Aunt Mary decided the prospect of having a stroke or diabetic event on top of a remote Welsh mountain was too scary for thoughts so, persuading Uncle Nat, the cottage was sold. It lay empty and nearly became derelict once more for almost 10 years after until about 1999 when somebody bought it and installed a tarmac road up to the cottage (the Land Rover having rusted away long ago). They also took down the wire fence my dad had placed around the cottage to keep the sheep out with a horrid wooden thing. They demolished the kitchen and built a new two storey thing and basically ruined the place fitting Velux windows into the crockloft and them nasty faux cast iron carriage lights on the gate posts.

Still, however, the area has a special place in my heart. I have begun my own traditions and discovered my own special places that I like to visit time after time. I try to visit when we can even if it is only for a day out from Anglesey. I hope that when I have children they too will hold the area in equal regard. I hope they too will be able to dine in Pen Bryn Bach and on Sausages Chips and Onion Gravy at the Chippy in Criccieth. But our family holidays became less of a family thing and I had nearly a ten year break from going away with my folks. Indeed, I had a break from going on holiday. It wasnt until 1998 when Mrs Gnomepants took me to Scarborough that a regular holiday period would once again arise. The following year I treated Mrs Gnomepants to the Solar Eclipse from the top of Braich-y-Pwll which inspired us to hire a cottage of our own there with Philip from Brighton and Stef from Cardiff in the summer of 2000 and again many times later breaking tradition briefly due to me going to university.

I rekindled my love for the area in 2010 when for the first time I went on my own. My fond memories clouding my judgement when it came to the weather as, following a couple of delightfully clement days, it turned nearly causing my tent to take off and glide towards the sea. I was there once more only this week, this time with old friend Nick. Nick hadn’t been to the area before and I hope that he ended up falling for the area as much as I already have. In fact, I challenge anyone to spend a week there and not fall in love with the place.

Thankyou for reading once more.

Holiday

I’ve been musing and fantasising about going to Wales, I got thinking about the way my Dad used to take us to Porthmadog in the 70’s and 80’s. Instead of taking the A55 along the north coast through Conwy and then down the A470 through to Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog we would scuttle down the A494 via Mold and through Denbighshire to Ruthin and Bala before gimbling down the A4212 which goes round the beautiful Llyn Celyn.

During this time my Dad drove a yellow MkI Ford Escort. It had vinyl seat coverings. Alighting from the car on a hot day would always result in cries of pain as you left the upper epidermal layer of your thighs on the black seat coverings. Regardless of this inconvenience, it seemed like we would always stop at Llyn Celyn and have our lunch while my mum told us about the village that was flooded to make the Llyn.

Lunch on such occasions nearly always consisted of cold bacon sandwiches on white bread with a thickish layer of butter or margarine. The sandwiches would be wrapped in silver or aluminium foil and they would be accompanied by a melted KitKat and a cup of warm milky coffee served from a tartan thermos flask. We would eat our lunch at the road side picnic tables and watch the rest of the holiday making public go past to their destinations. This seemed to be a traditional repast in the Gnomepants household as whenever my Auntie Joyce took us on picnics, the same fayre would be served (though more often than not accompanied by sweets and cake).

Our hearty lunch devoured, we would then continue on our route, down some twisty bendy B Road across the Snowdonian moors bypassing Blaenau and then down the A487, along the causeway (paying our 5p toll…heh) before pulling into Porthmadog itself to do the grocery shopping that would see us through the week of staying in Uncle Nat’s caravan.


In case you don’t know From Left to Right:- Me mam, our Carl (avec trainee scouser moustache), me (the little one at the front in the Paddington Bear tshirt), me dad (balding one) and our Chris (looking thin there, now he’s a bit chunky).

The caravan was near the fabled Black Rock Sands in a caravan site called Greenacres. Now it has its own swimming pools, luxury static caravans, security watch towers and special 4×4 Chelsea Tractor parking facilities, Cocaine snorting area and swinging club. Back then, in the 1970’s/80’s it was a basic caravan site with a small amusement arcade containing table top Asteroids and Space Invaders. If you wanted a swim you would nip down to the beach and paddle in the sewage outflow safe in the knowledge that nasty diseases and child snatchers hadn’t been invented. (Now you need to take a prepreswimmingpoolshowershower, a preswimmingpoolshower and a swimming poolshower before you are even allowed to look at the swimming pool, then you are required to have a postswimmingpoolshower, a postswimmingpoolshowershower and then remain in quarantine for a week incase you pass something on to one of the precious little darlings that people insist on taking on holiday). The sea was unimaginably cold. Well. I suppose you lot that live out near the flipping North Pole (robynz,zelest and think4yrself for example) would probably scoff at me saying that. But Cardigan Bay was bloody cold.

Of course, at this time nasty skin cancer causing ultraviolet rays and holes in the ozone layer hadn’t been invented and if it wasn’t for my fair complexion requiring me to wear a tshirt when I went swimming which although protected my torso, didn’t do much for the arms and legs. Added to that, I wasn’t the strongest of swimmers because I had ear problems as a child and wasn’t allowed to go in water incase I did damage to the surgery. Not that it did like. All that meant was I couldn’t swim very well until I was about 10. But I digress. Greenacres also had acres and acres of sand dunes to explore and views of the Carn Fadrun, the Snowdonian mountains and Harlech Castle.

Further along the beach cars were permitted to drive. Two things stick in my mind about this privilege, the first being my first ever “drive” of a car. When the beach was quieter my dad would take the Escort onto the beach and I would sit on his knee and turn the wheel while he operated the pedals. The second thing being that often people would park their cars on the beach then bumble off to the pub or somewhere further along the beach to enjoy themselves. This would frequently result in people forgetting to check the tidal times and hilarity would ensue when cocky holiday makers would return to find their car somewhere in the middle of Cardigan Bay. Of course you wouldn’t get that today. Pretentious wankers in their smart pristeine cars would probably have some sort of tidal early warning system hot wired into their brain. Also the “risk” of having a car on the beach would probably be too great and the council have probably stopped the practice of cars on the beach in case someone mistakes a Porche for a tube of Smarties and chokes. Or in case it incenses someone’s religious beliefs or some other PC crap.

Happy times. Irreplaceable times. These days Porthmadog is spoilt by the frightful hordes of frightful families in 4x4s and other fat arsed cars. Screaming overly spoilt and cotton wool wrapped kids, disenchanted husbands and hyper-fussy mothers who either don’t give a shit about their kids or give too much of a shit about their kids. Cafe Bars, expensive boutiques, surf shops, stinky burger bars and snooty retired pensioners trying to recapture their lost childhood in their autumn years. But I doubt kids today have as much fun as I did dicing with death and mistaking cars for tubes of smarties when I was their age. This year I would love to travel to Wales along that route described. Eat cold bacon sandwiches and drink warm milky coffee from a tartan thermos flask. I long to stand on the platform of the Ffestiniog Light Railway, inhale the steam from the trains and admire the view across Cardigan Bay. Relive part of the magic but not all. Before such practices are banned because someone might get offended or some boffin discovers that there is too much salt in cold bacon sandwiches or that holidaying in Wales is bad for the environment. Happy fond times.

Thank you for reading.

Hairdressers I have known

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

Shite

On my way into work this morning I watched a group of young lads get off the bus laden with fishing tackle obviously heading to the big park in Barnsley. It made me think how when I was that age if I’d suggested to my mates “Let’s go fishing” on a cold wet Thursday morning such as today they’d have laughed at me and probably would have opted to stay at home.

This then led me on the thought path of how everything I’ve thought as a good thing to do has been scoffed at by my peers. Drama; Gay, Walking; Can’t be arsed, Cycling; Why would we want to do that?, Singing; Gay. So on and so forth. This mocking continued through my teens and developed into moans about where we would go to socialise. For example “Lets go to the White Horse!” was often countered with “Let’s go to Birch House instead” and “Shall we go into town and meet girls in night clubs” was met with “Can’t, I’m skint, let’s go to the White Horse instead”.

Into my twenties and a different set of friends. Socialising became just sitting in my mates bedsits smoking and talking toot, only breaking from the norm by going to the Dovedale Towers or, on very rare occasions to the Blue Angel in town (money permitting) neither were my suggestion. Then I met my wife. A brief spurt of agreement in what I suggested as things to do swiftly collapsed into “Yeah yeah maybe”s. So I learnt to stop suggesting things. Instead I would just recommend. If we didn’t take part in things I recommended then it wasn’t so much of a blow to me. Besides which I enjoyed trying out new things and experiences. Moreover, I eventually got to try or do things I might have suggested we’d try earlier by just biding my time and letting the things become vogue.

Such hindrance coupled with the “I don’t want to do it on my own” factor probably stifled my development as a teen. While all the people I’ve met in the past 10 years regale me with stories of their promiscuous and misspent youth, all I can do is roll off tales of how I went youth hostelling with the choir or how I used to sit in old men’s pubs talking old toot. Of course I have no regrets about the path that I took then. I met really good and interesting folk who shared their tales with me at that time.

So yeah. Maybe while those young lads are having a good old male bonding session hunched over a fishing rod in a wet and cold Thursday morning in April, developing their social skills to aid their later years, they’re missing out on the serene and apathetic low key adventures I shared with my peers at that age. I’m sure those very experiences shaped me into the apathetic person I am today. A walking wind bag of second hand tales and cynical viewpoints.

I am 35. Some think I am older.

King Dong

Yesterday’s entry about the trials and tribulations of sports and physical education during my tenure at secondary school reminded me of an amusing story. I can vouch for it’s authenticity because I was there and I remember it well because it helped take the heat off me for a few months (at least).

Continue reading “King Dong”

Pedro

When I was at school it was clear from about second year juniors (no idea what year that would be in new currency) that I had an aversion to sporting activities. There were only ever two sport options for boys: football or football. The girls at junior school were spoilt for choice with such crafts as sewing, Scottish dancing and menstruating. As I hated football (soccer) then almost as much as I do now faced with a limited choice I had no option but to grin and bare it. Football bored me. It still does. I was always one for more cerebral activities, chess, scrabble and the like. My one crowning glory in the field of sport was the day I’d watched Flash Gordon before I’d gone to school. I felt inspired enough to mimic the American Football sequence, you know where Sam J Jones bops Ming’s minions with that egg shaped thing? “Forget it Ming, Dales with me!”. I ran up and down the field like a man alive, kicking the football past everybody only to be told I’d broken rules and that every time I scored a goal it was void because I didn’t genuflect at the goalie or paint my nose blue or some other obscure cock arse made up on the spot rule.

Sport (very long)