The sign in the window says ‘open’ but we are inside and so we can only see ‘closed’. As though the world outside is off-limits. There is only one person in front of me and he is in the chair already – a man-boy adoloescent, still marvelling at the places his body can sprout hair, watching in silence as the barber removes them. The barber – silently mean or kind – cuts his hair, turning today’s fashions onto the boy’s young head.
I watch the people outside – closed – watch them make their grey way through the cold afternoon. Headphoned, pregnant, swaggering, laden down with shopping, struggling with children, worries, faith, the weather. It is not raining. Not quite. Everything happens so coldly, calmly, quietly on the outside.
The barber has his clippers out and the sound of these battles against the sound of the music which he is kindly playing. The music is cold and cinematic, building, building, looking for a legitimate crescendo and then just building some more.
The people outside look frail, husks of husks. The barber is steady, all strong muscles and control bones. I look at my feet, my knees, my knuckles. The barber finishes with the boy and now it is my turn.
I have more hair than some others though I know that this makes little more than a tiny difference to anything once we are here and we are shorn in the chair. The clippers zip and zed all over my head whilst hair falls around my shoulders. I cannot see the people outside, looking straight into the mirror I am presented only with myself.
The music is lost under the sound of the clippers. Over my cheekbones, around my ears, noises up close, noises that could be up-close computer complaints. And the hair continues to fall as the barber works on – what – his hundredth, his thousandth head of hair?