1977 was before my very grown up children were born. It was also before Margaret Thatcher had come to power. It was when we all thought the odd burka rather brightened up the place in the same way as do Orthodox Jews and Morris dancers. That is it was another time and place.
It was also when 92 year old George started using the barbers on West Hill run by Cypriot Jimmy and his two brothers. Then Jimmy was wet behind the ears and only just off the boat-his family home had been taken by the Turks. Now Jimmy is over sixty contemplating retirement and George four times a year still makes the effort to go and have his full head of white locks washed and cut.
George tells me he pays ten shillings but tips 50p. Is there some significance he pays in old money and tips in new? When I put it to him that that wasn’t a lot for a hair cut which even for OAPs is priced at five pounds, he bristled and said well I used to pay two and six.
Many of my friends have also been to the same hairdressers for thirty years or more pay twenty pounds.
What does George ask his faithful snipper to do. “I don’t have to tell him anything. I just want a wash and tidy up. I like it because I see a few old faces there. Why should I go through the aggravation of finding a new barber when Jimmy is still there.” So its like going to the corner shop and having a little banter or going to the pub where the bar man knows your name. A fixed part of a changing universe.
Basically Jimmy and George get on. “He’s not like you always asking question. We talk about the weather,how the family is getting on, sometimes the football nothing serious. He is thinking of retiring, I don’t know where I’ll go if he does. Maybe he’s just hanging on until I go.”