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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Death by scissors: the deadly serious (that is, hilarious) business of a bloke trying to get a decent haircut in London in 2016

I have once again been reduced to a quivering knot of silent, internal laughter by one of Daniel Ruiz Tizon's podcasts.

The eponymous "Is Available" series reached episode 123 this week,  but I have been away, I am trying to catch up. The  blessing and the curse of the digital age: if you absent yourself from it, even for months, you get back and everyone tells you, you can catch up! It's so easy…listen, listen again! I, player!

Yeah it's easy, but you need to have the time. And stamina.

Unless, of course, it's something as good as what I listened to last night.

I listened to Ep.122, and was enjoying iy enormously. And then he got to the bit that was directly relevant to a personal problem. Getting a haircut. Now that my haircutter has absconded. Gone back to Cyprus to grow figs and olives, he says.

So I tune back into Daniel Ruiz Tizon is available. I find episode 122, there are 39 minutes packed with all the highly nutritional material his fans demand, are addicted to even. A cape revival. How to catch chicken pox. The worst American accents on British TV.

And then, Daniel's decision to get a haircut somewhere in Victoria. He went to a salon and had a bit of an awkward time with the stylist, Victor, who fancied himself as a scissors artist. One of those haircutters who had long ago eschewed the electric clippers. Yes, that's him. Victor, of Victoria.

All of which was difficult listening for me. The agony of this experience was just too excruciatingly real and too horribly familiar.

If you listen to this on Daniel's latest platform, Acast, you can see some related images  - such as a sketch of the strange arc this stylist had somehow created in the hair on the back of the author's head.

For the past 10 years I'd been lucky: I had found Andy in Landor Road, and he knew exactly what all his customers wanted and gave it to them, no fuss. With Andy you could ask for all sorts of fancy hairdos but he'd probably give you the one you needed.

After a lifetime of the sort of embarrassment so beautifully described in this podcast, it was a massive relief for me to find a barber who didn't make want to dissolve into a fluid and disappear into the drains as soon as I left the shop.

Does anyone else have this hang-up? The knowledge that, about once a month for about three decades of your adult life, you'd been pressing lots of money and even handsome tips into the hands of people who have just made you look even worse than you looked when you went into the shop?

Who made you wish you had a big paper bag to pull over your head as soon as you left the shop?

Who ensured that instead of returning to work you went straight home and started hacking away at  the "style" with blunt scissors, and then started applying conditoner, Flora, Trex, Brylcreem, bleach, something your auntie gave you for Christmas in 1974 and you'd never used, whatever you could find to try, to please god allow you to change that horrible 1983-look fluffed up thatch some crazy iD-reading harem-pant wearing new romantic had just inflicted on your stupid transplanted bum fluff.

Well, I had a 10 year holiday from all that. But now Andy's gone, I'll have to get used to it again. I'm a month overdue on the haircut. Next week I'm going south to Garratt Lane in Tooting on a quest. The last thing Andy told me was that I should go to a hairdressers there called something like Goodfellas, where I should find young George,  the apprentice he was training for most of a year before he retired.

I will try to find him, or will at least make a discreet reconnoitre of the area. Maybe he'll remember how Andy trained him on my bumpy scalp.

But how will I ensure I get him, and not just the next available stylist?


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