I arrive at the hairdressers today and find one of the girls on her knees picking up something from the floor.“No need for that when I walk in,” I say grandly. “A curtsey is more than enough.”“What?” she asks, like maybe I’ve just propositioned her.“There’s no need to get down on your knees when I walk in,” I repeat but with less conviction.“I wasn’t, I was getting some gum off the floor,” she answers brushing her jeans. Well, Oscar Wilde would not have been deterred, I think. Persevere and you can make anyone smile.
“Would you like to take a seat?” asks the earnest employee of the “Top ‘n’ Tail” Hairdressing Salon.
“Not today,” I say, “I have enough chairs. What I would really like is to have a haircut.” She stares at me. “No, I meant, would you like to sit down so that you can have a haircut.”I decide to sit down for my haircut and resist any temptation to cast forth further pearls into this porcine parlour. But my resolution is short-lived; there is something so invariably funny about the humourless.“Have I seen you here before?” I ask as she bedecks me in a blue cape. She moves my head this way and that like there’s just no angle that wll improve it.“I’ve been here almost a year,” she tells me. Then she adds helpfully, “But I do change my hair a lot and I am not wearing my glasses.”“Oh, are my ears safe?” says I with a mock air of trepidation. “What?” she has a worried expression that does not look good on someone armed with a pair of scissors.“Nothing,” I say. I have long been an adherent to that part of the Bushido Code that counsels against being a smart arse when in the seat of hairdressers and dentists.Soon she is singing to the radio and for a moment I feel that the whole room will join in the chorus. It’s like being in a musical except my hairdresser isn’t very musical; unless Tone Deaf Flat is a genre, of course.“So,” I ask, desperate to stop the singing, “how’s your life going?”She dabs some lather on my neck and reaches for the razor. “My boyfriend is in an induced coma from a motorbike accident.”“Oh, dear,” I say somewhat helplessly. Suddenly I wish the guy who usually cuts my hair was behind me regaling me bitterly with the latest exploit of his ex-wife, commonly referred to as “that bitch.” At least he sees me as an ally even if only by an accident of gender. And the ending is always so reassuringly the same. “Anyway, I hope she falls flat on her fucking face.” Always said with such emotion and with such finality that it is all I can do to resist saying “Hear, hear!” My present hairdresser pauses, looking at my reflection in the mirror. I hope she’s not depressed, I think. But she scratches away gently at my neck and says thoughtfully, “The doctors say he’ll be fine soon. I sing to him every night but I don’t know if he can hear me.”I am about to say, “Well, that would certainly induce a coma in anyone.” But bite my tongue just in time. There are just too many weapons at her disposal. I sit in noble silence. When I leave she takes my money and then suddenly and inexplicably smiles. “That was funny what you said when you came in. I just worked out what you meant.”“Great,” I say. “Next time, I’ll ring through a joke an hour before I get here and we can have a good laugh when I arrive.”“What?” she asks.“Nothing,” I answer rubbing my neck. Even Oscar Wilde would have struggled at the Top ‘n’ Tail.