My old mate Richie was clippering dangerously upon my left earlobe. I was watching him closely, fearful lest he should draw blood again.
“Fuck me but your ears are fucking hairy. What do you do, rub ’em with horseshit?” Every time Richie cuts my hair he draws attention to my ears and/or my eyebrows, both of which he dutifully presents eventually in their best light. He also has a Noel Edmonds gameshow playing on the telly, presumably on a moebius strip of light entertainment leading to that dark place between infinity and eternity, where even the void between the empty spaces is hairsprayed to within an inch of its existence and is exquisitely manicured and groomed with a well fitting tailored shirt. I bet there are no skids on the tails, too. Noel’s just too fastidious.
“No,” I replied, wincing as his gaze fixed on an ageing buxom hottie walking past and the blades of the clipper pinched lightly upon a morsel of my ear. “I need a haircut for Johnnie Opera’s funeral. And I’m hoping to get away for a week next month.” One lie, one truth. Johnnie Opera’s not even dead. But I haven’t seen him for a while, so it’s best to be prepared. And yes, it’s the time of year when my little spouse Juanita spends a raucous few days with the girls from work somewhere in Alicante, so in order not to feel too left out I book myself a week in Greece. I haven’t yet decided if it will be Corfu Crete or Symi. Or possibly Patmos. One or the other though. And before the middle of June, to be sure. A huge mistake conversation wise though as it gives Richie the opportunity to launch into his second favourite subject. Which would be shagging pensioners in Mediterranean fleshpots, something which he seems to constantly indulge in, or at the very least fantasise about a lot, and I don’t. He began an oft recounted tale of his about an old dear who he met at a Karaoke night once in Magaluf.
“She was sixty five if she was a day. There with her daughter. She’d fucked off with some Spaniard. I bought her a drink so she owed me. I told her, you come up to my room love, and you won’t get no rest all night. I shag you, you’ll know you’ve been shagged. You’ll probably carry the scars for the rest of you life to prove it.” He leered at the memory, imagined or not.
“You must spend fucking hours in front of the mirror rehearsing lines like that, fine tuning the seduction technique, Richie. Well?”
“Well what? She came up to my room. I shagged her. Didn’t let her sleep all night.” He smirked in the mirror. I had a sudden flashback type experience, of an evening spent watching one of my favourite films over a bottle or two of rioja and the odd snifter of ronsonol. The words came tumbling out.
“If I medicined you, you’d think a brain tumour was a birthday party. Oh Richie, I’m glad you don’t wear eyeliner.” And I screamed at him to get the clippers away as I tried to convulse silently with laughter. Ricky frowned and held the clippers, still clippering away, an inch or two away from my eyeball.
“Don’t be a cunt. What are you talking about? Eyeliner? What fucking eyeliner? And I didn’t need any medicine. She probably needed some vaseline for the rest of the week though. I don’t think she had a tumour, either. I fucking hope not.”
“Ah, Richie, you’re the last of nature’s true gentlemen, you really are,” I told him. “Tell me, why do you always have Noel Edmonds on the telly? Do you like his beard? Do you marvel at the immobility of his mane? Is it the contestants? Do you like to answer the questions? Or is it his shirts with the shit free tails?”
Richie looked blankly at me. “Who? What the fuck are you talking about now?”
I gestured at the telly. “Him. The bloke on the telly. Noel Edmonds. Every time I come for a haircut, he’s on the telly.”
Richie studied the tv screen in silence for a moment.
“Who? Is that who he is? He’s a cunt.”
By now Richie had finished with my hair and his mate Ollie was interfering with Bobby the dachsund in the basket in the corner. One of them was growling. The other was visibly excited. I sometimes worry about what goes on behind open doors. I avoid closed ones for obvious reasons.
I got up and paid Richie, including a tip of £2 for the ears, the eyebrows and the absence of too much visible blood.
“Your turn Ollie,” I told him. “Ask Richie about his holiday last year.”
I went back across the road to my shop and had a restorative cup of fresh filter coffee. God, but life is good sometimes.
And then you go and get a haircut.