A Clip Round the Ear

Sitting in a traditional barber’s shop waiting in turn to be clipped remains an education. When I was a boy my dad used to cut my hair in his shed using a pair of scissors with a comb, finishing off with a pair of hand clippers that he’d had for many a year. As I became a little older he began to take me to his usual barber’s shop on Corby’s Studfall Avenue, ably run by its dour proprietor Mr. Clough – or ‘Cluffy’ – as he was affectionately known, a man who’d always reminded me of the great film director Alfred Hitchcock. It was there that I came face to face with the iconic barber’s chair. Not an unsubstantial bit of kit, the barbers chair was invariably black with what looked like a headrest, though I can’t believe that this was for any kind of whiplash prevention. The chairs height could be altered by the use of a large semi-circular chrome foot ‘pump’ allowing for comfortable access by the barber to every head he’d had the pleasure to have known. Just sitting in that Harborough Barbour’s last weekend took me right back to ‘Cluffy’s’ shop. 1fe1f9e0b19be57080d5f7bf9f0008a1When dad took me for my first ‘professional’ cut I was still quite small which proved no obstacle to the creative dresser, which ‘Cluffy’ certainly was. He’d place a plank of wood atop the two chair arms on which I’d be placed thus lifting me up to the right height. Some things about that place remain distinctly unique to the memory. The air was thick with cigarette and pipe smoke, with any one of the three clippers offering their freshly groomed patrons a little something for the weekend. In 1970 my dad’s health deteriorated significantly, but that wasn’t going to stop ‘Cluffy’ from taking care of a good customer. He’d visit my dad at home to cut his hair in the privacy of our dining room: my dad was always thankful for that. “Next customer please”.

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