Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: In Praise of Arthur

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  • Jackie Clark,

    You poor buggers - I'm going to be all smug and say that I go to Peggy and Flint at Zulu in Ponsonby Rd. After years of changing hairdresser every few years, I've finally found the right ones. They're fabulous, and I love them. They don't do colour, there's only the two of them, there's no fancy head massage or other effects, they don't sell product (imagine my surprise the first time I went, when Peggy was washing my hair and I asked her what she would use if she were me. " Oh, just Tresemme from the supermarket" - marvellous), and it's $85 for a cut.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I knew a bloke who was bald at 13yrs - most evil wit I've ever met

    Lex Luthor?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Can't remeber his name but I always pissed him off when playing my "Stalin" (everyone must die) style of chess.
    He & my flatmates knew the various styles and I won far too often for them to keep their pretentions up.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Skinny,

    I'm a great fan of the barber. Sadly it's getting harder and harder to find a good one. I used to go to Frank in Vivian Street, under the Trade Hall. You could be guaranteed to talk about Rugby, and to listen in on his conversations with his regular bevy of unionists and seamen.

    Frank was the only barber I knew that did a cut throat on your neck - just tidying up those stray hairs and making a sharp line along the bottom of your sidies - of course this is totally illegal under the Health and Safety regulations - most barbers gave it up of their own accord once AIDS became prevalent in the late 80's.

    Sadly Frank sold out to his niece after a cancer scare. She just doesn't have the same lack of conversation - and I always end up with hair down my back, and missed hairs (just the odd one) standing out from my Number One (all over).

    I can't find anyone to replace him. Other so-called barber shops charge double the price, and are run by young 'flash-harry's' who it seems to me are just in it for the money.

    I went and bought myself a pair of clippers - now, for the cost of spreading hair around the bathroom, I can cut my hair within an inch of it's life, have a shower afterwards, and it doesn't cost me a cent.

    But I'm always on the lookout for a good old fashioned haircut: see my post here

    Wellington • Since Aug 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Cousins,

    I'm surprised you have so few hairdressers reading... I'm a Barber - for those in Wellington I used to be THE BARBER based in Cuba Street (cybercafe at the rear of the shop)... I'm now in the Willis Street Village.

    Pete, who works with me, is the last Barber in Wellington who will still use a cut-throat razor regularly - he will even do the full shave by appointment.

    From a Barber's point of view I have to say I'm one who still asks "How would you like it cut"... after working Cuba Street and covering the whole spectrum of desired styles, it became a habit... so much so that I get really frustrated by young fellows who wander in, get in the chair and then proceed to tell me they don't know what they want! My now standard answer is "#1 all over then!" to which they inevitably reply "No - not that short"... but they then tell me what they had in mind in the first place. By working with the customer we can achieve the desired result!

    My shop is the only Barber's where Sports is almost TABOO... neither of us is interested but we can converse if required (some men don't want to talk - they are just taking time out from a guelling life to relax and get a haircut) on a variety of subjects from politics to music, movies to computers, religion to PHP.... if one of us can't comment then the other usually can.. we're in our 50s and 60s and subscribe to the view that most men don't want to spend 30+ minutes having their hair done.. they want to nip in, get it cut and nip out as fast as possible... if the conversation's good that's a bonus!

    So to those of you who have a good barber/hairdresser and intend to stick with them... on behalf of the working barber may I thank and commend you! You are my bread and butter... and if you call regularly the chances of Baked Beans for the kids' Birthdays diminishes...

    Wellington • Since Aug 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    How funny, Ian, that you should talk about Cuba St. In the paper this morning, there's a lovely article all about Cuba St by Grant Smithies. I went to Marsden and spent a lot of time wandering up and down Cuba St as a teenager. It was a delight to get back to Wellington in the last couple of years, after 26 years away, and see that it hadn't lost it's charms.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Cousins,

    While not wishing to stray too far from the subject matter, Cuba Street is changing. Rent increases have driven out most of the small businesses that gave the area its charm and sense of community. An increase in rent from 20K to 52K in one jump saw me leave my premises... the second hand shop next door moved out and the guy in the takeaway sold out to someone who was prepared to pay the increase in rent he faced. Few of the landmark shops/businesses are left... Mr Smiles, Mr Munch Scoop 'N Save, the Comic Shop, 4 book shops, the electical repair shop, Silvios Records, the Market, the Recording Studios to name but a few. Some remain (Elmo's Mowers, Mr Munchener Coffee Bar, Jam Hair and Peter McLeavey's Art Gallery) but the area is now inundated with bars, Licenced Coffee Houses and Restaurants .. a number of who moved in when rents got too much in Courtney Place.

    Even the Carnival has done little to bring the spark back to the area... its "quirkiness" was largely based on the small businesses and alternate lifestylers who inhabited the upstairs flats above the shops, etc.. now they are largely converted in to modern apartments that students and alternate lifestylers can't afford.

    To bring us back on topic I might make this observation... barbers are a dying breed. I believe I had the last apprentice in Wellington and that was 10 years ago.. and he decided to go labouring after 2 months as it paid more (mind you he was only 15 years old). No amount of discussion, with his mother and I, on his future earnings capability would convince him to stay... an apprentice takes 3 years to qualify making almost nothing in the first year, average wage in the second, top wage in the third... this of course can change depending on the quality of the work and experience. If a hairdresser does both sexes and is capable of keeping up with the changing styles the sky's the limit. I know of a couple of hair stylists who work solely on commission and make over 3k a week... I really should go back to unisex styling!

    Those of us still in the trade are getting older... Frank's retirement is only one of many in the last 3 years so its only a matter of time before you are all out there paying top dollar for a haircut... and that might be sooner rather than later if rents keep going up at the rate they are! :D

    Wellington • Since Aug 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Having just got back to PA after a few busy days...


    I very much enjoyed your blog. The photo of the West Coast barber's shop is brilliant!

    Ian Cousins:

    Likewise I enjoyed your account from the other side of the barbers' chair. A sports-free zone would suit me -- I generally focus my conversation on politics and potatoes with Arthur.

    Question: Ian... can you shed any light on the NZ barber-as-condom-supplier mystery?

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Cousins,

    David... I can confirm that it was the usual practice for a Barber to conclude the service with:

    "A little Bay Rum sir?.... Aftershave?.... A pack of (name your brand here)... certainly Sir and something for the weekend perhaps?"

    the latter referring to the condoms.. as my associate is often keen to point out in many Barbers' shops the customer would confirm the latter very quietly... today the young lads all buy their condoms from the Supermarket and very quietly ask the (usually female) cashier for .... a packet of (name your brand here)!!

    How times have changed!

    Wellington • Since Aug 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Few of the landmark shops/businesses are left... Mr Smiles, Mr Munch Scoop 'N Save, the Comic Shop, 4 book shops, the electical repair shop, Silvios Records, the Market, the Recording Studios to name but a few.

    It's not just the rents, either. I know one of those bookshops (and the delightful people living in the upstairs flat) moved because the building turned out to be a hideous earthquake hazard. It can't be the only one.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Last time I regularly used a barber was while in Dunedin for university. Selwyn Graves (iirc) of lower Moray Place/George St was an institution back then, and last time I looked he was still there. He also was the provider of choice for snuff, for that brief month long period in first year where I thought it was cool.

    Now I follow the 6 month rule - which means I spend 4 months of the year looking like a shaggy oaf. I think its worth it.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I should note that the thing a real barber is good for is a shave with a cutthroat razor. There's nothing like being wrapped in a scalding towel and emerging minus a couple of layers of facial epidermis. Makes a man feel alive.

    I have finally accepted that nothing; no product, no expertise, no gazillion dollars, will make my hair do anything it doesn't want to do and have simply gone to a barber for a short back and sides... and a shave.

    The shave only happened because my barber enquired what I was up to that morning which was hosting a birthday party for two-year olds. At this he offered to extend my stay in his comfortable chair for the princely sum of $11 for which I would enjoy a shave - the best $25 I spent in a longtime ($25 being the price of a haircut and shave).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Dykes,

    Another great thing about barbers is that they don't lure poor students into their premises with offers of free haircuts in order to perform experiments on them. The free haircut offer is a euphemism for a "styling" in which you have no say, deportation to an apprentice hairdresser competition and subsequent dumping back on to the street looking like a freak. I once got sucked in for the free haircut but fortunately was able to do a runner before I could be kidnapped. I provided merriment for those that saw me before I could borrow some clippers.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    I would like to nominate this entire post as the epitome of all that is great about the interweb. It's the online equivalent of those conversations over a pint on a long winters evening.

    Oh, and Kyle?


    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I used to go to Frank in Vivian Street, under the Trade Hall.

    What is it about barbers & trades halls? There's a barbershop tucked away under the hall in Sydney's Haymarket. In the early 2000s the old Aussie battler barber packed it in and the lease was taken over by a Chinese guy. Head dowstairs for a nice little enclave of Hong Kong Hello Kitty-ish ambience in what used to be strictly a monument to Aussie blokedom.

    Another great thing about barbers is that they don't lure poor students into their premises with offers of free haircuts in order to perform experiments on them.

    A free lobotomy with every haircut?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    Someone mentioned earlier that barber's shops were places where blokes could get their condoms (and for young blokes, less embarrassment than having to confront the lady at the chemists who knew yer Mum).
    I grew up in a village in England and, as a kid, my Dad would sometimes take me for a haircut at the same time as himself. There were three male barbers. I was such a shortarse I had to be lifted onto a plank set up across the arms of the chair.
    It wasn't until years later (when I had reached the age (and need) for the above-mentioned prophylactics) that I realised why my father, a devout Catholic, would go scarlet and look pointedly at the floor when the barber, via the mirror and with a knowing wink as he finished the business with the brush round the neck, would ask the dreaded question: "Anything for the weekend, sir?"

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

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