Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Reportage: At the barbers, 29 December 2012


The most unremarked upon pleasure of sitting in a barber’s chair is that you can listen. That I am as near to blind as counts once I sit down helps to focus the ears on what’s around me. Once all you can see is fuzzy, furry, indistinct, it draws attention to the fact that so much of late modern life is merely there to distract the eye, so that we don’t see what we should really see.

My barbers, as fine as it is, could really do with a dose of Pawson-esque cleansing minimalism. Why does the mirror need a bowler hat and the handle of a furled umbrella athwart it, let alone wallpaper of an Ottoman-nodding heritage, with flocks of black swirls gamely battling for your retinas? Busy busy busy! Oh for some coolly precise and calm white brick ceramic tiles! Still, I must make my eyes rest and my ears work.

I haven’t told you about the coffee and the cigarettes. Did you know, realise, that most people who manipulate hair for a living subsist on caffeine and nicotine? And does it change your view of a man wielding a razor to know that? That he might be jittery? I estimate that my man, and his other men, are the only people who aren’t tourists in the city drinking little sips of mocha and latte while they work. What is the right prescription, between alert and a nick, a slip or a sleep? I fear to find out. The red and white stripes must have a tannic brown added to them soon.

A girlfriend is waiting for her gentleman’s hair to be finished being cut. They talk about where they might live, and whether they can pester the nice man in Heals they’ve pestered before. It is done. Heads turn to her. ‘It’s fine.’ She tries again. ‘It’s nice. No, it’s nice.’

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