The prospect of an interview in London meant that I finally had to face the fact that I needed a haircut. Most of my French and English hairdressing visits have been quite harrowing, the French ones are fierce and tut when I refuse their advances with the lacquer can and the English ones have a tendency to weep about their boyfriends - or they give me too much detail about wedding outfits and child care.
All I needed was someone to cut a straight line across my shoulder blades, I’d left it to the last minute, the Spanish barber over the road advertises that he is unisex so I stopped by to see if he could fit me in.
Turned out that Manuel was not actually unisex himself but he does have a ladies basin and chair looked after by a disarmingly candid and fast-talking teenager called Laura, her accent the broadest Bristolian, here’s a reference for it in case you’re not familiar:
I was going to get a dry trim, making the visit as speedy as possible but Laura was lovely and made a remark about her employer that was so deliciously indiscreet that I found myself asking what she’d charge for a cut and blow dry, she threw in a special offer just for me she said:
Today I’ve got an offer on of twenty five pound, normally it’s thirty five pound but Jasmine’s left and taken all the customers with her and the book’s empty now so me and Doreen are trying to get more people in.
For the hour it took to ‘do’ me she bathed me in a stream-of unedited chat prompted by my answers to her questions:
Laura: Going anywhere special tonight?’
Me: Just the cinema, I’m going to see Coco Before Chanel*
Laura: Oh I love that. I got one of those artificial bags down the market. I love quilted stuff. My Nan made loads of quilts. Mum doesn’t like them though she thinks they’re too hot....
And I learned loads of useful stuff too, for example, if I bought just 10 issues of The Sun newspaper and collected their tokens, I could get a holiday for £9.50. You wouldn't get that information in a Vidal Sassoon salon.
Anyway, that was the most fun I've ever had at a hairdresser's so I might be going around looking a bit tidier as I plan to go back there.
* Loved the film, but then I’d watch Audrey Tatou in anything, even the execrable 'Da Vinci Code'
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