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CRAIG BROWN: Why silence is always golden with barbers


On a visit to the barber, the late Enoch Powell, never the most comfortable of characters, was asked how he would like his hair cut.

«In silence,» was his reply.

I was reminded of Mr Powell when I heard the news that a hairdresser in Finland had launched a ‘quiet service’ for those who prefer a bit of peace.

Kati Hakomeri, who runs her own salon in Helsinki, has little time for small talk, big talk, or indeed any talk.

Neither do her clients: many of them can’t think of anything new to say from one visit to the next. «If nothing new has happened in life during that time, why talk about it?» she says.

Kati Hakomeri has set up a special reservation for clients who don’t want to politely chat about their future vacation, weekend plans or the weather.

I’m with the silent brigade. If I were a Finn, I would fly as the crow flies to Mrs. Hakomeri’s salon. I’m always afraid that hairdressers will say, ‘Are you going anywhere nice this summer?’ Or «Crikey, where did you last get that cut?»

That’s why I always go to the barber, who has the radio permanently tuned to loud discussions about football.

WS Gilbert, the lyricist half of Gilbert and Sullivan, would also welcome Ms. Hakomeri’s venture. When his talkative barber asked him, «When shall we expect anything more from your gas pen, Mr. Gilbert?»

Gilbert retorted, «What do you mean, sir, my fluent pen?» There is no such thing as a smooth pen. A pen is an insensitive object. I dare not pry into your private affairs. Please maintain the same restraint towards mine.»

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Of course, there are plenty of people who like to chat with their hairdressers. Hitler’s secretary Christa Schroeder recalled in her memoirs that his friend Eva Braun once complained to her hairdresser that Adolf «never had intercourse with her».

It was probably the same hairdresser who passed this choice piece of gossip on to Schroeder, who many years later passed it on to the general reader.

Never tell your hairdresser a secret: this was one of the many life lessons that Eva Braun failed to learn.

Hakomeri also seems to be on to something, telling the local paper that there appears to be a gap in the market for a special booking option.  Pictured: Hakomeri salon

Hakomeri also seems to be on to something, telling the local paper that there appears to be a gap in the market for a special booking option. Pictured: Hakomeri salon

Hitler’s personal barber felt that the Führer’s cut hair might be worth keeping. With that in mind, he collected them discreetly by putting duct tape on the soles of his shoes.

Ever since the days of Sweeney Todd, barbershops have been an uneasy mix of calm and tension. Some find them soothing; but others find them tense, perhaps because they think of them as the backdrops for machine-gun massacres in gangster movies.

One minute you’re sitting with a white sheet around your neck and your face covered in shaving cream, and the next you’re lying on the floor, riddled with bullet holes.

And the barbers themselves can be unreliable. A while ago, a new suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders was revealed: a hairdresser named Aaron Kosminski, better known as Jack the Snipper.

In my experience, even the quietest barbers offer the basic courtesy of asking you if the water is too hot and finally showing you your new hairstyle in a hand mirror before removing the clippings from the collar. decorative brush.

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But it wasn’t always like that. When I’m in London I often pass a barber shop in Marchmont Street which has a plaque on the wall saying it was where Carry On actor Kenneth Williams once lived.

His father was a men’s barber who disapproved of fancy haircuts and offered only the traditional short back and sides.

Kenneth remembered a man who came into the shop asking for a blowout. «You will get no blows from me!» Mr. Williams Sr. exploded.

One mystery remains. Why are so many hairdressers addicted to puns? For example, British salons Curl Up And Dye, Shear Excitement, From Hair To Eternity and Love My Do. Another reason to book your next appointment in Helsinki.



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