Robert in Lockdown – 8.1.21

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In response to a number of messages in the last week, I should clarify that last Thursday’s column about my pal John being related to Neil Armstrong was absolutely NOT an April Fools’. I should perhaps, though, have picked a better date on which to tell such an unlikely tale.

The main story of this week, however, is not April Fools’ Day but “three back and sides day” – the reopening of the country’s barbers on Monday.

I have been going to the Byers’ Road Barber ever since my first haircut in Glasgow about 10 years ago. As well as its close proximity to Glasgow Uni and subsequent popularity with students, the initial reason is that the chap who cuts my hair, Ronnie, is pals with Winnie from the Park Bar because they used to work together in a gentleman’s club many years ago. That was all it took for a young teuchter to decide this was the place for me to get the hair and the heather cut from behind my ears, and I’ve been going there ever since.

This story begins with another pal of mine whose real identity will be protected but, for the purposes of this story, we shall refer to him as Kyle.
Kyle is from an unspecified location in Argyllshire and has also been a regular at Ronnie’s for quite a few years. Ronnie enjoys getting gossip from him (asking what he was up to at the weekend, for example, or whether he’s taken any young ladies on dates recently) and passing it on to me whenever I’m next in the chair. This arrangement appears to work the other way as well. Sometimes the interrogation is such that the chair can be more akin to Mastermind than a barbershop.

The return to the barbers was a momentous day for everyone whose hair has been growing over our ears for the last four months. Kyle and I were fighting to get the latest slot on the booking app knowing that whoever went in last would get the benefit of the other’s gossip from Ronnie! I won that particular battle and arrived looking forward to a good blether.

As I sat outside in the queue, lads were coming out of the barbers with big smiles on their faces declaring what relief it was. It really was quite an event – and presumably was taking place all over the country on the same morning and most days this week.
Kyle himself wouldn’t have experienced quite the same relief because at some point, half way through lockdown, he had attempted to cut his hair himself. I use the word ‘attempted’ because, in truth, he had been quite heavy handed round the sides and therefore bore a striking resemblance to Blackadder. He had informed me that Ronnie had been very impressed with his efforts that morning.

I was about to hear it from the horses’ mouth. ‘Impressed?’ Laughed Ronnie. ‘He looked like he cut it with a bowl over his head!’