London – it’s not quite Didsbury
I feel a sense of irony that I live in the world’s barber and hairdresser capital yet have been so busy recently my hair has applied for its own postcode. This is fine for those 20 somethings that are the NBFs (or whatever the term is) that I hang out near at Didsbury Lounge, (I was in last week, had an awful dawning that I was the only 39 plus a lot year old in there and popped a Wellman vitamin immediately) but at my age can be iffy. Not only does it give twin babies more to grab onto but it brings with it two thorny issues.
Last week, one early ish morning I was trying to instil something vital into Didsbury Son’s long-term memory. It may have been the day the bins go out, the importance of planning for a shed of his own with wi-fi or something equally educational. I was scuppered mid-flow by him stopping me to tell me he couldn’t take me seriously as I had hair like Krusty the Clown; he was right. My other issue is that hair now grows around and from my head rather than just on it.
Women may have their beauty secrets but men’s haircuts after the age of 30 involve a tacit nod and the understanding that the clippers will do the gardening and tidy up the edges and entrances that you can’t see when shaving. This morning I considered my eyebrows and their aspirational upward mobility and thought most companies would kill for growth like that.
I am now back from my latest jaunt and felt it would have been disloyal to even consider a haircut away from School Lane’s Clipper Mile. When you have Pick’n’Mix at home why buy sweets at Tesco? Blade’s wet shave, John’s Gentry grooming and the Didsbury Barbers know where to clip and not to talk once I get into a trance and you can’t buy that ease and acknowledgement.
On my last night I strolled back to a hotel with a floor plan based on Strangeways through London’s theatre land, Chinatown and Covent Garden. For tourists and teenagers with fashionable haircuts I recognise from the mid 80s this is fine. It is vibrant, mult-coloured and busy. But to me it lacks the AiryFairy, Alpine Cafe, Fusion Deli, Evanesque charm of Didsbury. There is no guessing what 15th century Italian city state inspired the new restaurants, no playing count the empty tables or spot the customer at Gourmet Burger King and not even the disappointment of the late Elm’s unloved Bath Bombs taking residence in Delia’s florist stems the love of home. None of the bright lights could mask the fact that it may be the centre of the capital – but you can’t find a decent barbers.
A London street. No barbers to be seen