Sunday, 15 August 2010

How would you like your hair cutting?

There is an old joke that goes:-
Barber to customer: “How would you like your hair cutting, Sir?”
Customer: “In silence, please.”

I have yet to meet a barber who doesn’t remind me of that joke every time I have my hair cut. Perhaps it is merely some development of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and all taciturn barbers have become extinct. And are there any greater repositories of useless information than hairdressers?

But what really annoys me is being required to respond all the time – often having been asked personal questions that anyone else meeting you for the first time would blush to ask. I wrote in my diary about one trip in 1995 which showed how adept I had become at dealing with them. I simply sat down in the chair and before he could even put the towel around my neck I asked “Have you had your holidays yet?”

During the next fifteen minutes (I had more hair to be cut in those days – nowadays it only takes ten minutes) I learned that Corfu is 40 miles long and 10 miles wide; that the Tour de France had been won by the same guy for the last five years on the trot; that a certain bike – whose name went over my head (if you’ll pardon the expression) was the lightest touring bike; and that Ted the barber once saved a man from drowning.

Robert Lynd once said that “Knowledge is power only if man knows what facts not to bother about”. Presumably that makes barbers pretty powerless. Meanwhile, it was Napoleon who commented “Du sublime au ridicule il n’y a qu’un pas”. Barbers, it seems to me, have gone more than one step beyond the sublime.


  1. Lol...great post!

    I've been letting my hair grow out, as of late -- hope everyone who meets the barber is happy with the cut.



  2. The same goes for ladies' hairdressers. A few years back I tried going to a new one. I gave very short and evasive answers but then she just kept coming up with new questions. Unbelievable. Your method is better, to ask them questions instead.

  3. Know exactly what you mean. I have an appointment to get my hair cut in a couple of days. At least with men it only takes a few minutes - I'll be there trying to make conversation for an hour. Doesn't help that I can never find a way to explain what I do for a living!

  4. Well, just imagine if you happened to be on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and the last question would be about the size of Corfu - thanks to that barber, you'd go home with a million quid!!
    Usually when I have my hair cut, I turn the tables and inundate the poor young lady who has to put up with me with an hours' worth of everyday trivia and chatter. I guess they are glad at the salon that I don't come in more than once every three months or so.


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