I’ve talked about the hairdresser’s apprentice twice, now, and I still haven’t talked about the hairdresser.
I first met him thirty-five years ago when he was the hairdresser’s apprentice and life was real. It was the seventies and I was in my teens; he was three or four years older than me... still is, and he gave me my first serious hair cut. He’s given me every serious hair cut ever since.
He’s an intelligent man, personable and good looking too, but, most importantly, he is that rare thing: he is the right man in the right job.
Most people don’t keep the same hairdresser for thirty-five years, and if they do, it generally isn’t because they give good hair. To be fair, the good hair isn’t the whole reason why I’ve used this man for all this time, but it is the main reason. My hairdresser has never given me a hair cut I haven’t liked, and he’s certainly never given me a bad hair cut. He’s never given me a cut that didn’t suit me, a cut that wasn’t appropriate, or one that wasn’t fashionable/current/modern.
He has pedigree. He’s been on winning teams in international hairdressing competitions. He’s a bit of a perfectionist. He stays current. He stays interested.
He also has expectations.
When did having expectations become unfashionable?
I don’t know how many juniors I’ve seen pass through the hairdresser’s hands over the past thirty-five years, but it’s more than a few, and I’ve watched him working with them. He expects a lot. He begins by teaching them how to clean and how to be clean, so that sinks, brushes and combs, perming rollers, kitchens, bathrooms, towels, coffee cups, floors, brooms, mirrors, and every surface in the various shops he has run are immaculate. He teaches by example. He demonstrates, he shows, over and over again. He asks questions and expects answers. He expects juniors to use their initiative and rewards them for doing so. He wants more and he gets more, and so do they.
They don’t all survive the process. I sometimes wonder how the hairdresser has survived, but he has, and the men and women that have completed his training have benefited hugely from the experience, I am sure.
Not everyone is going to meet his expectations, but if there were no expectations to meet he would not have produced so many capable hairdressers nor enabled them to have careers of their own.
Hats off to him, and to the man who takes up the reins and has expectations of his own. I wonder if it will be the hairdresser’s apprentice. I wonder if I’ll be around in another thirty-five years to see the fruits of his labours... I wonder if I’ll still be dipping into the tints... Purple slices anyone?
And here's my sister's take on what happened: