This time, you’ll be happy

Hampton Court and more October 2013 143

Hi, babe. I’m James. I’m doing you today. Pushes a smile to top left-hand corner of mirror. Do we know what we’re going to do with you? Places right hand on crown of head. Quite a bit of grey. How about some colour? Finger to chin. You don’t want a colour? Sure? OK. What can I do for you then? Twists mouth, rubs beard. Right, good, OK, right, yes. No, you don’t want to do that. Asymmetric’s out. Last season. And we don’t want you wandering about looking like a wally, do we? Turns. Looks at colleague. No, what I’ll do is this. Runs fingers through hair, pulling up strands from side of head. It’s very heavy back here, so I’ll take some of this out. We won’t change the length. We’ll just lift it a bit… You what, babe? Graduated? Rubs beard with palm of left hand. Curls top lip. Ooh, no. You want to keep it level here. Like the horizon, babe. Choppy won’t suit you, I can tell you that right away. Spins. Susan! A wash and condition, and give her a little massage. Alright? Exits.

James is a 23 year-old heterosexual white male from Northampton. He moved to the south-east two months ago after splitting from his girlfriend. The company agreed to relocate him to one of their central London salons. Last year, he won Young Midlands Stylist 2012. Now, he’s staying in Cobham with his auntie. She doesn’t charge him rent.

I miss my mum, of course, I love my mum. But it’s a new start, isn’t it? Divides scalp into three triangles. Twists hair into clips. A big thing. First time I got the train to Waterloo, woo, I was shaking, babe. Rests hand on right hip. My dad? You must be kidding! Haven’t spoken to him since I was 14. His loss, I reckon. His loss. Shall I take this out? Lifts hair by client’s right ear. We don’t want to catch it, do we babe? My mum’s all the family I’ve got. Plus two step-brothers. But she’s my best friend. We’re like that. Clasps his hands together. Holds them above client’s head. I love her. But, d’you know what? I’ve never cut her hair. Not once. She gets her mate to do that. Barbara. She’s lovely, Barbara. Been doing it for years. I do colour. Bends down behind client. Snips the hair around the back of the neck. The best bit about coming down here was the first week, before I started work. Me and auntie watched loads of telly, with cups of tea and pizza and cakes. Chatted away. Had a few smokes. My mum’s sister. Treats me like a son. Then I started here. I do such long hours, I don’t see anyone. Looks at colleague in mirror. They’re nice enough, but I don’t really see anyone outside of work. Too expensive. Makes angular cuts into a line of hair held between fingers in right hand. Repeats through five sections of hair in triangle at rear of head. I’m going home for Christmas. Ten days straight. My mum, my auntie, and me. And that’s it. Slides scissors into back pocket. Steps to side of chair. Now how do you want it dried? I can use the diffuser, or we can go straight, or polished with volume? Polished with volume? What? Yes. Yeah, almost finished. About 75 percent of the way. When it’s dry I’ll chop in a bit more. Through this stuff, you’ll see. What, babe? Rests left hand on client’s head. Yeah, oh yeah, I’m quick. You get quick when you’ve done it as long as I have. Pulls dryer from plastic holder in wall. Tests heat on right hand. Not too hot? Best bit of getting your hair done isn’t it? What? The drying, babe. Takes years of practice, this. You’ll never get this good. Years. That’s what I’m saying. Every six weeks you need a good blow-dry. Rolls brush into sections of hair, pulling upwards before releasing. You doing Christmas, babe? What? Turns off dryer. You doing Christmas? Turns on dryer. Oh nice. Yeah. Got a big place, then? Oh. Oh! Right. Nice. Turkey? The lot? Nice. Telly? Films? Oh, right. So what d’you do? Yeah. Right. Right. Turns off dryer. What do you want me to do at the front? Flat volume to the left? Another coffee? Turns on dryer. Susan, a water here please babe. I told you you’d be happy this time. You going to come back? Turns off dryer. Sprays hair while lifting chunks of it upwards. I can write my name down on one of the cards. Turns dryer on. Then you’ll know who to ask for. You see what I mean now don’t you? Turns off dryer. Slides it into holder. Look. Holds up wide mirror. You don’t want it too high, babe? Can you see? Sweet like that, yeah. What? Shorter? Well, I can take a tiny bit more from it here, but five cuts across max. I just won’t do more. You can’t go that short. Look ridiculous. Takes scissors from pocket. Rubs right hand over beard. Snips around the back of the neck. There, that’s all you need. What? Oh yeah. Alright. There you are. Hands mirror to client. See? Definitely enough. I won’t go shorter. I refuse. It won’t be right. Steps backwards. D’you wanna pay Susan at the desk? Over there. OK. Alright. Exits.