Short back and bowl, sir?

WHEN it comes to lads having their hair cut, traditionally it was your father who took you to the same one he went to.

But then again, for some readers it might have been your mother giving you the dreaded basin cut.

The older you got, and gradually becoming more self-conscious about your appearance, the dreaded basin on that Sunday haircut night for school the following morning, would have been a real nightmare.

I was taken to see Harry Greenwood at his Waring Green barbers shop.

I recall the haircutting chair – I was so small I was sat on a cushion so I could see through the mirror. The chair itself, thinking about it now, resembled one of those you see on the American films often referred to as ‘Old Smokie’ - the wooden electric chair! Harry would stand there with the strap he used to sharpen some of his implements on, never talking or looking at you, but holding a conversation with your Dad, as if you were not even there.

On one occasion I was under instruction from home, ‘get your haircut’, wishing I could have it a bit longer. The very thought of the basin being dusted off was enough for me to take drastic action.

But Harry’s was shut and the only place I could think of in what was for me a dire emergency was Blackburn’s in Milnes Yard. I plucked up enough courage to go in saw this old chap, who I presumed to be Mr Blackburn, surrounded by all his sharpening straps hanging from the walls.

I sat in one of those ‘Old Smokie’ type chairs and he asked: “How would you like it”? In the end what I said bore no resemblance to what I got. Mr Blackburn only knew one style, possibly two, short back and sides or shorter back and sides. That transpired to be the only time I visited.

Not long after the word went round there was a new barber in town. It was on Market Street and the barber was a young chap called Billy Ingham.

‘Do you want a square cut?’ he asked. Wow, this was real style we were getting into. He wore a white uniform jacket, and he put scissors and combs in a glass box.

Once I moved away I never went to Billy’s shop again, and on the occasions I visited the town centre he too had moved on. I often wondered what had happened to him.

In October last year about the time I was celebrating my 60th birthday, I received a letter from Billy Ingham. Billy, now in his very early 70s, lives in the Bradford area. I contacted him and we shared memories of the old days, which is now almost 45 years ago.

And what was it I liked about Harry Greenwood’s shop more than the haircut? The comics, of course, hundreds of them.