The Worst Haircut I Ever Had

In the mid 1990s my main client was based in Edinburgh, and I drove between there and Glasgow day and night, usually in the dark because it was winter.

One particularly cold day, on my way to get a sandwich for lunch, I spotted a brightly lit barbershop. Through clouds of my foggy breath and the condensation streaming down the barber’s window, I could see no queue – an ideal opportunity for a quick haircut. I entered on the spur of the moment, and was shown a chair by the traditional old-man barber wearing a grey dustcoat.

His shop was very warm; on full-blast was one of those large portable Calor Gas bottle box heaters, in front of which lay a large Alsation dog fast asleep. I was draped in a large black sheet, and the barber set to work.

I nearly dozed off due to the heat and the gentle humming of the clippers as the barber defined my hairline. Suddenly all hell broke loose.

The dog had caught fire and jumped to its feet, wide awake and yelping in fear and pain. My reflex action was to sharply move away from the barking dog. This motion, together with the barber being himself startled, caused the clippers to shave a trough across my head. I looked bad.

The barber was in a panic in case the hair on the floor caught alight. Trying to put out the fire on the dog involved beating the dog, and the dog was now in a biting mood. He bit the barber’s leg, and I grabbed the animal while the old man – through clenched teeth – put out the smoking pelt with a bottle of spray water.

burning-dog

This large German Shepherd urinated onto the hairy floor, and we had trouble stopping the animal rolling into the mess. It’s feet were sliding and clawing as it retreated into the corner under the customer bench, whimpering.

While the dog calmed down, we fixed up the barber’s bitten leg, brushed the hair away from the heater (which we turned down) and mopped up the urine-soaked hair at the doorway. Finished with our exertions, the barber looked at my hair and muttered, “Mamma mia!”.

Seeing myself in the mirror, I agreed to getting a “Number One All Over” – my head was shaved as close as a Chinese monk. He said there would be no charge as he helped me on with my suit jacket and coat.

Outside, it was even colder now. I had to go to Woolworth’s to buy a woolly hat.

Apart from being cold all winter, and having to wear an ugly hat, I was the subject of great mirth back at the office. It started as soon as I returned from Woolworth’s – Security didn’t recognise me, and I looked nothing like the photo on my ID pass.

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The Dark Side of Supermarkets

Supermarkets can sometimes be quite dramatic.

For example, I was once next to be served at a check-out till in a small local supermarket when a strange thing happened. The cashier was scanning items, and passing them onto a sloping conveyor to be bagged by the customer, when a scanned watermelon rolled down the slope. It gathered speed and struck the lip at the end of the check-out, where it was launched into the air.

We all watched in slow motion, mouths open, as the customer flailed about trying to catch the flying fruit, but instead of a save, she actually managed to strike the large watermelon in such a way that it accelerated toward the open supermarket door like a cannon ball.

Everyone gasped as it slammed into a chihuahua, killing the small dog outright. The customer was beside herself, screaming and wailing as the distressed and distraught dog owned arrived.

It was quite a scene, I can tell you. A crowd gathered, management were called, statements were made, and eye-witness reports were rehearsed and dramatised. At one point, the fruit was recovered and bagged (perhaps as “exhibit A”). I was surprised that the dog was also scooped up and put in a Safeway carrier bag, but then, I supposed there was no “proper” etiquette for this sort of thing, and there had to be a clean-up so that we could all get on.

Small dog threatened

*****

Some years ago, in the run up to St Valentine’s Day, I procrastinated to the point where it was the eve of the Big day, and I had no card and no gift. So I waited till my loved one was fast asleep in bed, to slip out to the 24 hour hypermarket.

I arrived at about 3.15am, and dashed along to the greeting cards aisle – upon arrival, I was surprised to find seven other men browsing the cards!

I am far from unique in my errors.

*****

I did once see a woman fall to the floor in a supermarket, and suffer an epileptic fit. It was quite odd, and no-one knew what to do – it’s awkward for a man in such situations, so I ran to a shelf-packer for help.

“Hello” I said to gain her attention.

“Yes? How can I help?” she responded.

“There’s a woman having a fit in the drinks aisle” I explained. Just at that point, an elderly lady who was passing by, said:

“I’m not surprised with the prices they’re charging here; it’s a disgrace, it really is!”

Growing Up with An Alpha Dog

Dogs can be really clever. And also annoying.

When I was growing up, we had a black-and-white Collie called Bob who was “a law unto himself” as my mother would say.

Bob wasn’t allowed on my parents’ bed as it had a fancy covering. We would walk outside and look in the bedroom window and see Bob enjoying a relaxing sprawl on this bed – but by the time we’d got in the house, there was Bob pretending to be asleep in the hall.

Most of the time he did what he liked, but at least he respected us all enough to pretend to obey and be a “good boy”.

As he got older, however, this respect faded.

He would detect one of us was going out. He wanted to come along too; he fancied a trip, a day out. So he would bolt through the front door as it was opened for departure, and dash to the car. He knew which car the person owned. He would then lie under one of the wheels to prevent the car being driven off.  As soon as the car door was opened, he’d dive in, and off everyone would go. With Bob.

Bob

Of course, people tried to outwit Bob – there was the leaving by the back door ploy, the decoy ploy (where one bribes a sister to pretend to be going out, allowing one to sneak out the back door and make a getaway), and the sudden change of car ploy… Bob soon twigged to all our tricks.

As the youngest, I didn’t drive a car. One time I got myself spruced up to go out to a disco, left the house by my bedroom window (this was quite normal for me), and was heading to the busstop when I felt a “bobness”. I was aware of a sound and movement behind me – but when I looked back – nothing.

I got to the stop. Nothing seemed amiss. The bus came and I got on. To my horror, on the bus, next to me was Bob. The bus had pulled out and we were on our way. Damn. Bob was coming on my date.

What to do about this? I thought I might be able to get off the bus without him – or perhaps I could pretend to be getting off – allowing him to dash off ahead, then perhaps begging the driver to close the door and drive off – but I knew he’d beat me. He was a darned clever old sheepdog.

We got off at the next stop, and walked back home, Bob seemed happy, and grateful for the adventure. I made sure he was locked in the kitchen, and went to get the next bus.

It was all going according to plan. The Bus came, I got on, I checked – and I was Bobless. Freedom!

Three miles later I got off the bus and walked toward the disco, which was in a church hall. I met a couple of pals heading the same way, and we relaxed, fooled around, joking and laughing as we joined the crowd and queue to get in.

The Bouncer looked right at me and said, “You can’t come in with a dog.”

I was bewildered – then I saw Bob, sitting looking up at me.

“That’s not my dog, mister!” I blurted out.

My pals and I got in, the Bouncer somehow managed to stop the dog getting in.

“Wasn’t that Bob – your dog?” a pal asked me.

“Well, yes, but dog’s aren’t allowed in – what was I supposed to do? Go home?”

“Why did you bring him then?”

“I didn’t! He must have got loose and followed the bus here!” I wailed.

My plan was to ignore Bob, and pretend that he wasn’t sitting outside waiting to follow me home. He can bloomin’ well sit there all night until I am good and ready to leave – that’s what I thought.

And so I queued for cola and crisps, chatted to my date, danced a bit, fooled around with my pals… then, suddenly, in the middle of the dancefloor, was a barking dog.

How embarrassing. All hell broke loose, the dog ducked and dived, people tried to catch the dog, I made a run for it…

In the end, Bob and I were thrown out of the hall, and we went home together on the bus. Bob was delighted – pleased as punch he was, tail wagging, tongue licking, happy as could be at his first disco experience. I was crushed to think about school on Monday.

Having a dog like Bob was character building. I learned that it was possible to both love and hate someone at the same time. That dog was richter-scale annoying, a Nobel sized pest, an Olympic nuisance.

And decades after he passed away, I still miss him.

The Bird Murderer

When she walked into the public bar, Bill darted for cover.

“Hide me!” He whisper-shouted, nodding in her direction, and hoisting my coat from the chair back, up in front of his panic-stricken profile.

“It’s OK, she’s just passing through to the lounge bar” I said.

Bill peeked and looked relieved. He stopped pretending to be putting on my coat, and relaxed back into his chair to gulp down a large draught of his pint as my face lodged an enquiry.

“Bloody budgie!”

“What did you say?”

“She’s got an evil budgie – it ruined everything, but she’ll not believe a word of it!”

“What on earth are you going on about?” I was mystified. He explained:

It seems that he had chatted her up at a local “Divorced and Singles club”. They had danced, talked, drunk and got a taxi back to hers.

They sat on the sofa, dimmed the lights, turned on some Barry White, and began smooching by candlelight. It was going smoothly and according to The Plan.

She told him she was going to “freshen up”, and left.

“I’ll only be a minute”

He sat back and chilled to the music – suddenly he suffered a sharp pain in the back of his head.

Then again.

“Oucha!” he jumped to his feet, waving his arms at the wee budgie that was intent on pecking him to death.

This fight continued for a minute of two, when it sounded like she was coming back.

As she opened the door, the bird vanished.

“You alright?” she said, surprised to find him on his feet.

“Yeah, I just need to nip to the loo myself.”

He checked the damage in the bathroom mirror – there was blood. This was not good.

He returned to the living room and joined her on the sofa. It wasn’t quite the same, and she sensed it, so he decided to casually raise the topic of the bird.

“Do you ever put the budgie in the cage?”

“Oh hardly ever! He’s perfectly house trained – even when the front door is wide open, he never tries to escape; he loves it here! Don’t you?” She asked the bird, making kiss-kiss noises. The bird hopped onto his head.

“Oh look!” She exclaimed, “He likes you! – Oh let me get a photo of this! Wait there! Don’t move!” She gave up looking through her handbag for a camera, and turned to look behind at the dresser.

The bird took the opportunity to peck his scalp while she was looking away.

“Ouch!”

She spun round, “Did he peck you? Oh, naughty boy, naughty boy” she said to the bird.

“Can you get him off?”

“Oh he didn’t mean it. A small peck means he likes you…”

“No, please get him off, please?”

“Oh don’t be silly…”

And at that he snapped, he jumped up and battered off the bird, which pecked him before flying off to perch on the centre light.

“I have to be off anyway” He said, “I’ll call you tomorrow”.

She was pretty upset at what he’d done to her pet.  He called her and explained that it had drawn blood and pecked the life out of him when she was out of the room, but she didn’t believe him. She called him a coward for making up stories instead of flat out being a real man and telling her straight.

This annoyed him, so he made another date with her. It went well, and they went back to his place. A few more dates, and eventually they wound up back at hers again, and again, he was attacked when she left the room. He couldn’t make her understand, and he was staying the night.

During the night he paid a visit to the loo, naked, and when it flew at his penis and pecked it, he chased it and flattened it with a thick Bible.

Breathless, naked, and with a sore appendage, he sneaked back into the bedroom, got his stuff together, and crept away, never to return.  He left her a note, apologising for killing her bird, and ever since, he’s been on the run.