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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Two versions of the traditional barber shop pole , a reminder that in England at one time barbers were  licensed to carry out minor surgery and even dentistry hence blood and bandages.Tradtional barber shots have become an increasing rarity in my part of the world when the majority of hair cutting businesses these days seem to be  more up market uni-sex hairdressing salons and like to call themselves stylists because they can charge more I guess.

A nostalgic look back at a trip to the barber's shop.

I remember in the mid to late fifties being sent to the local barber shop by my father periodically  to get my hair cut. As a military man he expected me to have a no-nonsense  "short back and sides" haircut and so that is what I got ( ugly as it was for a self-conscious tall-for -his -age kid with what I thought was a head too big for my body and one whose hair was invariably untidy full time )

A visit to the barber shop back then ,when sex was still a major taboo was happily anticiapted by me but for one reason only. Barber shops usually had piles of heavily illustrated  tabloid newspapers and magazines on the tables which was someone of my age's only oportunity to see the female of the species  without clothing in what were soft porn "girly" pictures . These newspapers and magazines featured copious pages of so called "glamour models", cheesy bucksome pale-fleshed models in various states of undress and , as a young boy, that made the wait for my haircut more enjoybale and contributed to my early education. Full nudity was common as was the mysterious complete absence of pubic hair! When the hormones began to kick in as I got a little older, there was always the risk of an impromptu erection , the antitode to which was to switch over to reading a copy of the daily paper , the literary equivalent of a cold shower.

What always amused me back then were the men who would come into the Barber shop rather furtively for what was then called a "packet of three" and what we would now call condoms. Often these men  would be acutely embarrassed and probably terrified of trying to buy contraception at a chemist ( where they might face a female assistant) and the barber's shop therefore enabled them to purchase the condoms in a secure male only environment. In fact, if I remember, at the end of a hair cut, the barber would enquire somewhat euphemistaccly, "Something for the weekend Sir ?"  That if course  was coded speak for "Do you want some condoms." Also men would come into the shop, not to have a hair cut but on the pretext of buying a comb or "Brylcreem"   and a nod and a wink produced what they really came in for from under the counter.

Happilly these days , we have advanced away from sexual prudery somewhat and of course too, the word condom is international and it is an indication of being responsible in your sexual activity and thus, it is less uncomfortable buying condoms . The embarrassment that men displayed and still do display seems a little strange since if they lack the confidence to make the purchase without blushing, how are they going to be able to get to the point where they will actually make use of the things? 

When I was about fifteen or sixteen, I had a friend called Dave Smale and he workled in a sea-side souveneir shop in Weymouth , the premises were a long and narrow room. One day a hapless holiday maker came into the shop, walked the length of the shop to Dave at the till and whispered a request for a "packet of three" uncomfortably. Dave always had a wicked sense of humour and balled, at the top of his voice, to the shop's proprieter "Terry!Where do you keep the Durex ?" The customer  was mortified and made a hasty exit , head down, past the shop full of customers, mostly women.

johncoxon 2:21 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

john/Male/51-55. Lives in United Kingdom/Engalnd/Salford, speaks English and French. Eye color is brown. I am what my mother calls unique. I am also creative. My interests are photgraphy/local history.
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