With some people it’s dentists but with me it was hairdressers so for a long time in my teens I had been cutting my own hair.
The top and the sides weren’t too difficult but I had to cut it blind at the back, trying to taper it but taking out big triangular chunks in the process. My mother kept going on about it and eventually sent me to get a repair job done at Delila’s, the cheapo hairdresser that used to be The Singing Kettle before it got burned down. “Your dad used to get his hair cut there, ” she said, as if that made everything all right.
It was a woman hairdresser. She tugged at some of the tufts sticking out at the back of my head. ” Someone’s been at this already, ” she said.
I mumbled that I’d done it myself.
” Ah, you’re one of those, ” she said. ” So. How do you want it? ”
Ashamed, I told her just to tidy it up a bit.
” I’ll tidy it up for you, ” she said. ” No problem. I’ll tidy it up for you all right.”
I couldn’t bear to watch her progress in the mirror. Hair was cascading down the white cape thing I was wearing, floating softly to the floor around my feet, and there was no pause in the frantic snick-snick of her crazy scissors. I folded my arms and stared at the pink and blue bottles at the back of the circular basin, not letting a single thought squirm into my head until she had finished.
“Well?” she said, holding a mirror up behind my head so that I could see in the mirror in front of me the full extent of her artistry. “What do you think?”
I managed not to cry till I got home.