Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Two barbers, a dead footballer and a bit of colonial symbolism!

A man’s relationship with his barber can be a wondrous and personal thing. In so many movies, when the old fella wants to talk about the mysteries of life, or mull over a very personal problem, he talks to his barber. I’ve been very lucky over the last 20 years in Galway, because I’ve had two excellent barbers who not only made sense of the swirling cow’s lick sheep’s ass hedge that is my hair, but also have been good for a bit of banter, craic and fiendish slagging.

The other day I was pounding along Salthill Prom (yes, the knee operation was a success, I’m thrilled to say) when my path crossed with Old Barber. I’m calling him that not because he’s longer in the tooth than New Barber, but simply that five years ago he put down his scissors to go to college.

Such is the heinous grapevine that is Galway, after our initial “Howyas!” I was able to tell him that he’d been spotted last week, back cutting hair in a shop in the high street. Was he done with college?

“No, Charlie, just doing one day a week for the bobs, y’understand. Nearly finished, now though, at college. Five years done and I’m about to be a barrister!”

“Bloody hell mate, well done! That’s incredible. I’ll have you on speed dial on my mobile.”

“Sure that’s what they all say! We’ll see, but it’ll be a great day when I put my scissors up on eBay!”

“Mate, you’re an inspiration! Well done, and thanks for giving me ammo to use against New Barber. I’ll be able to taunt him now that the Master is back on the job!”

“Thanks Charlie, but there’s one thing I’m really pissed off about. They’ve only just gone and changed the law, stopping barristers wearing wigs in court …”
and as he lifted the hood on his anorak to reveal his balding pate
“… and wasn’t that the only reason I bloody wanted to be one in the first place!”

We roared with laughter.

“Ah sure mate, those wigs were only sad leftovers of colonial symbolism. You’ll be better off without them.”

As we walked on our separate ways I smiled broadly, happy to live in a place where you bump into the bloke who used to cut your hair and share a laugh talking bollocks and colonial symbolism.

So when I popped into New Barber I told him he’d better do a bloody good job, ‘cos Old Barber was back on the beat. Trouble was, such is the nature of the two men, we only ended up talking about what a great bloke Old Barber was, and I knew that having sat in New Barber’s chair for many a year now, I was not about to take my barnet elsewhere.

But all this mutual male respect and lurrve didn’t stop us enjoying a good slagging. Most of our banter over the years has been based around the fact that, as my colyoomistas know, I am a life-long Chelsea fan, while New Barber is a Gooner, one of the lowest forms of animal life, otherwise known as an Arsenal fan.

I had a peach ready.
“Did ya hear the news? Chelsea’s bringing back Peter Osgood!”
“Peter Osgood? But isn’t he dead?”
“Sadly yes, but your lot have bought back Thierry Henry and Man United have dragged back Scholes, so while Drogba and the lads are away at the African Cup of Nations, we’re going to let Ossie have a few games.”

Thankfully he stood back and lowered his scissors before he fell about laughing and coughing.

“Peter Osgood! Love it! That’s the best one this week!”

Peter Osgood - The King Of Stamford Bridge.
(Here's a little ditty we used to sing back in the 60s and 70s, to the tune of 'The First Noel')

Out from the shed came a young rising star,
Scoring against Jennings from near and from far,
When Chelsea won the game like we all knew they would,
The star of that great team was Peter Osgood.
Osgood, Osgood, Osgood, Osgood,
Born is the king of Stamford Bridge,
Osgood, Osgood, Osgood, Osgood,
Born is the king of Stamford Bridge …..

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