I’m trying to be leaner. I don’t mean slimmer, more taut or fitter. I’m quite happy as I am if it means I can carry on sitting down a lot. I mean that I’m meaner.

CREDIT: ©-everett225-Depositphotos
CREDIT: ©-everett225-Depositphotos

I’ve recently moved house and my expenses have rocketed out of all control. The cost of moving hasn’t just been on my mental health but has hit my pocket quite hard too. My savings have been battered out of existence.

In a spirit of trying to rationalise my finances, I’ve been loitering round the reduced bread section in the supermarket in the early evening, buying unbranded products and taking my own lunch to work. I’m not exactly poverty stricken but my thoughts are that the less I spend on food then the more I can spend on clothes, DVDs and books. I can eat like a pauper and attend the theatre and the ballet like an aristocrat.

Last week I went a step too far though. I decided to go for a cheap haircut. I’d spotted an unusual looking establishment on the bus to work which advertised ‘Any haircut: £5!”. I decided that as I was passing I’d give it a go. My hair style isn’t complex, just short with a side parting and a bit of grading. What could go wrong? Why do I need to spend £20 or £30?

I walked in, sat down on the grimy plastic sofa and instantly regretted my rash decision. Firstly, it was warm and I was liable to stick to the cheap sofa. Secondly: the pictures on the walls threw me into a state of panic. Displayed on the walls was a picture of Gareth Gates circa ‘Pop Idol’ with his ridiculous spikes, a fair few thugs sporting mullets and some interesting shaved patterns on the heads of what looked the inmates of a young offenders institute. I was considering leaving when a squat Turkish man frogmarched me into a chair.

“Wha you wan?’

“Well, I like the sideburns trimmed to a number two with clippers and up the sides I like a….”

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Before I finished with my admittedly slightly pedantic requests he grabbed a set of clippers and ran them up the side of my head, ensuring there was no going back. I decided to go with it. I felt I’d reached a point where I had no other option. I was certain I was going to leave there looking like some odd 90s throwback or someone with a rare medical condition.

He pushed my head forward and down, in a way reminiscent of a gay porno. He planted his palm on my face and pushed me sideways one way, then the other way. I felt like I was in a wrestling match. He reached for a huge razor and flicked off a used blade into a dirt speckled glass and deftly slotted in a blade and started shaving round my neck and sideburns at an alarming speed. I wondered just how new the new blade was and considered the fact that Hepatitis B is prevalent in the Borough where I live. I nervously waited for the nick, reassuring myself that like any sensible gay man, I’m vaccinated against Hepatitis B. This reassured me till I remembered about Hepatitis C which there’s no vaccine for.

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There were no cuts, luckily, but there was a liberal amount of water sprayed onto my head and face. Within less than 10 minutes he’d done and grabbed the gown off me, holding out his hand for the fiver. Where was the drying of my soaking hair, the showing me the back for approval (I hate that bit actually, I’m 42. No 42 year old wants to see the thinning bit at the back of his head) or the basic pleasantries?

I staggered out of the shop, water dripping down my face, razor burn smarting on my neck and a rising sense of horror at what my hair would look like once I got home. You may or may not be surprised to learn that actually my hair looks great. It’s the best cut I’ve had in ages. Who needs niceties? Its a fiver. I think I’ll remain prudent for a while longer. I’ll be back there in a month. Stale bread anyone?

About the author: Chris Bridges
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He's usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.

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