Friday, 28 June 2013

The hairdresser's

I'm not someone who needs a huge amount of personal space. I can recall occasions when there has been a particularly lack of it, and I've quite enjoyed myself. I'm perfectly on board with a friendly nudge on the arm every once in a while, too.

But whenever I visit my hairdresser he smacks me in the face.

I had speculated that it was an attempt to remove loose hair. That was until today, when I'd barely finished tucking in my gown and he was trying to knock me unconscious. (As soon as he commented on my new beard I knew only too well where it was going...)

In all seriousness, it doesn't really hurt. There are no traces of blood or bruising (he's so smart). It's more peculiar than it is painful. Still, I receive a flutter of back-handed slaps multiple times throughout a haircut, and I'm completely oblivious to its reasoning.

Maybe my hairdresser ('Petey', from now on) has some kind of Napoleon complex? He is a small man. Not a dwarf, if that's where your mind had wandered. Just a Northerner.

But it doesn't quite fit his M.O. He's not overcompensating, he's not an exaggerator, never trying to prove himself or his achievements. He's quiet, really.

The actual haircut itself is never anything to blog about either (really brought an out-dated term into the modern era, there). Nor is it particularly cheap, at least not while physical abuse is included as standard. 

So why do I return?

Because I am completely mesmerised by the guy.

What would he want to do if not hairdressing? Exactly. Making thatched roofs.

What did he do previous? Right once again. Street racing (bicycles, apparently).

There's something addictive about his approach to hairdressing; his professionalism is so engaging throughout every aspect of his service, whether it's the handshake when I greet him, the way he takes my coat from my shoulders, or the diagram he draws of my hair to illustrate his intentions.

His minimalist use of tools impresses me also. With only a comb, a clip and a pair of scissors (usually they have at least some electrical equipment and the zigzag clippers, right?) he reshapes my messy locks, and almost to my satisfaction.

Those who abandon modern technology in favour of the old-fashioned approach have always impressed me, ever since I watched Rocky IV. In the training montage, Drago has all the bad-ass equipment, the treadmills and the weight-machines and the punching bags (those clich├ęs will give you an idea of how much time I've spent in a gym myself.)

Then there's Robert Balboa. (His actual name is Robert Balboa? That is absolutely ridiculous.) He doesn't need all the mod cons, just give him a steep hill and some bits of timber - he's a World Champion in the making. (You must check out this Rocky scene because it is breathtaking, but I think the foley artist was having a bit of an off-day. I've never heard a sack of boulders fall on a wooden floor, still, wouldn't have thought it sounded like a hand grenade...)

Petey isn't just a professional though, he's thoughtful. Today he offered me a job. No joke. I'm currently out of work and he reckons he could help me get into the hairdressing game. I had not the slightest interest in the profession when I arrived this morning but I've been seriously considering it since I left (if only to discover why he physically attacks a paying customer). Obviously, I do fear he is trying to groom me, he seems to have taken quite a serious interest. But hey, if it's mutual?

After cutting my hair he gave me a discounted rate on account of it being "just a trim" and, as always, refused to accept a tip. You've got to love his ethos. He decides a reasonable price for a service and I'll keep coming back for more, whether I'm being maimed or not.

I'd been telling him about my relationship/employment woes of late, and he walked outside and gave me a pep talk before I left. "Follow your heart". "Chin up". If my old hairdresser tried that, I'd ask him first to stop offering me "cheap Bulgarian wine - £3 a bottle", just so I could entertain the notion that he has his own life completely in perspective.

All of this makes me think about something else Petey said last year. To enjoy your work you must be good at it, or at least believe you are, otherwise you will be left unsatisfied. I'll write about this more sometime, but it certainly rings true for me.

If I want to be happy, I'm going to have to believe I'm good at what I do, and providing something to the best of my ability. This means taking pride in my own work, and it's something I've never been comfortable with.

Right now, I want to be good at writing. And someday I want to charge for it. In the meantime, I'll take Petey's approach, a fair price for an adequate service.

Thanks for reading, that will be 'sod all', please. Come again.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Another problem at the doctors surgery

I recently blogged about a visit to my local medical centre. Here is what else happened there...

After investigating the threat of the mole on my forehead, the doctor concluded that it was benign. However, it seemed to have grown over the past few years and I wanted to halt its progression before it enlarged further. This is not a vanity thing, aesthetically I could care less. (Though my ex-girlfriend did describe the mole as her "nemesis". Her whole personality was my nemesis.)

The doctor prescribed 'bazooka gel'.

I was sceptical.

Not because she held a quite unsettling resemblance to a Moomin. Nor because her empty paper tray had undermined an otherwise completely professional visit. I was concerned because bazooka gel is NOT to be applied to the face and NOT to be applied to moles.

"It's alright," she reassured me. "It's not a mole, it's a facial wart."

Perfect! The fear of applying acidic jelly to my face had suddenly vanished.

I used the bazooka gel that night, and while I certainly experienced a unique tingling sensation, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The gel was nursing my forehead back to full strength, idly smoothing my 'facial wart' down to nothingness.

The mole was a black scab come morning.

Several days later the scab washed away in the shower and the wart began to bleed. It continued to bleed for most of that evening actually, sadly coinciding with a formal dinner party at my cousin's house. (No interesting stories came from this, telling of the evening in general.)

It continued to bleed and re-scab for another few days.

Perturbed by this run of events, I returned to the doctors surgery and met another GP. To my astonishment, I recognised her...

It was Little My! Another character from 'The Moomins'! They've got the whole bloody kingdom working at the Village Green surgery. Her pink bow tie was missing but the untrusting scowl was firmly in place.

After another facial wart investigation, I inquired about the directions on the bazooka gel tube and how they seemed at odds with how I was using it.

"Yeah, I'd stop using the bazooka gel," said Little My, though she offered no explanation as to why I was prescribed the gel in the first place (Wikipedia tells me this is not uncharacteristic of Little My).

Probably good advice, I thought. But was she was prepared to fork out the fiver I paid for stuff...?

I didn't ask. I don't think they use pounds sterling in Moominvalley.

As it turns out, the only way they will surgically remove my mole is at my own expense. These are perfectly acceptable terms. As long as it remains at a reasonable size in comparison to my massive head, I'll keep it. If only because it exists as a bizarre anti-hero to my former partner. She was nuts.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

More about the best day ever.

"It was that easy... you just emailed him?" Said my unimpressed friend, upon reading my previous (and mind-meltingly brilliant) blog post. "Couldn't you have just done that ten years ago... YOU COMPLETE IDIOT?" I heard him thinking.

Well, of course, I had tried that before. I wasn't like a lost father on a family camping trip, driving aimlessly through Welsh countryside, too proud to ask the only dog walker in sight if this was definitely the correct way to Crymnthynllewnlynfd. Of course I'd tried emailing the bloody writer.

In fact, my brother and I have tried many things before. Search 'John Ondrasik' on IMDB. One of the questions on the message boards (unanswered, and under the crushingly bad username: the_explainer) is from myself.

I might reply to it. Yeah I should, it will be like sending myself a valentines card. Just with nobody around to see. (Actually it's not really worth it when it's put like that.)

Here is an email I found from September 24th, 2007, which I sent to the old Five For Fighting website. That's nearly six years after I first read the lyrics. It went like this:


A few years ago after performing at the 'Concert for New York' septemeber 11th memorial event on October 20th 2001, John wrote the lyrics to a song called "The Night of New York".

I read the lyrics (can't remember where I found them) and thought they were beautiful but I've never seen them since.

Any chance you can find them? It would quite possibly make me the happiest guy on Earth.



I think my writing style has gone beyond "simple but effective" and straight on through to "drivel", here, and I probably wasn't taken very seriously. I couldn't even spell September correctly. (The usernames aren't getting any better either.)

Nevertheless, it shows I have been on the hunt for these lyrics for a long time. Stating they would make me the "happiest guy on Earth" was a big claim (was I planning to marry them?) but I can confirm I am very happy to have them.

Before I post them for all to see, I do want to share another story...

Glenn and I are from the UK but my last girlfriend was from the US. I was sitting with her once, talking about Five for Fighting, quoting her lyrics. And, tentatively, she says "Scott, you know... over here... Five for Fighting are a different... kind of... thing"

What the hell was she talking about?

"It's like. You hear the songs everywhere. At weddings. At graduation. On the radio..."

And it became clear. Like a ubiquitous Celine Dion circa 1997, Five for Fighting was the scourge of America's ears.

"But...surely people still think it's good music?" I said, hopefully.

"I just think that if you had lived here all of your life you'd have a different opinion"

I understood the point. She was right, my musical tastes would be completely different had I lived elsewhere. Yes, she was right.

But the truth is it doesn't matter if my taste would be different. I can't change it now. If liking one type of music makes me less 'cool' in one culture, then that's alright with me. (Honestly, my musical taste won't be considered cool anywhere - I actually like Celine Dion.) I can take more meaning from a Five for Fighting song than any other. Hell, I can take more meaning just from the name 'Five for Fighting' than I can most other songs.

It's about how we interact with our favourite music. Not what it means to everybody else. Five for Fighting is important to me. That's all that matters.

Anyway, whatever your opinion of Five for Fighting is.

Without the music...

Without the name...

As only black and white words on a page.

I think 'The Night of New York' has universal appeal.