I enjoy a good haircut, it’s one of life’s simple pleasures. I’ve found barbers not only do it better and cheaper than the main street salon, they also don’t talk as much. They understand that if I wanted a conversation I’d have gone to the pub. With spare time on my hands I decided I was due for a treat. I could have gone to a spa for a massage or any number of rejuvenating treatments, but I opted for something simpler. An old fashioned shave.
The decision was in no small part inspired by pure curiosity. Just what was I going to get for my $26? We’ve all seen men getting a shave in movies or period TV dramas. That’s how I know mob bosses always make important decisions like who to whack next from the comfort of a barber’s chair. But apart from the hot towel, what’s it all about?
Let me start by saying that companies like Gillette haven’t invested millions to produce the perfect safety razor with five blades that follows the contour of your face without good reason. If the straight edge blade was the be all and end all of shaving then we’d all still have one in the bathroom. What you get then, is an experience. Someone else is doing the work for you. All you need do is lie back and enjoy.
Which is easier said than done when a bloke is holding a cut throat to your, well – throat.
It’s hard not to think of Sweeney Todd, or worse, Helena Bonham Carter. What if you cough, swallow or god forbid, sneeze? Going to the dentist is a walk in the park by comparison. After being lulled into near sleep with the reclining chair, soothing hot towel and fresh smelling shaving cream, you are quickly brought back to the real world by the sound of a wickedly sharp blade scraping across your skin.
Some men’s magazines espouse the joys of such a wonderfully relaxing experience. Bollocks! I’ve never been so tense in my whole life. Try as I might I couldn’t relax enough to enjoy it properly. I was left wishing I’d opted for the hot rock treatment after all. Then, just when I thought it was all over, the barber did it again. Because once wasn’t enough. Like American cars, the cut throat is good on the straight but rubbish in the corners. So the whole laborious process had to be repeated to get that silky smooth finish.
And here in lies the secret. Shaving at home has been improved so much that going to the barber out of necessity has been made redundant. Going to the barber to achieve the same result, born of a desire to be pampered, is now however, a luxury service. When it comes to luxury, who better to have the last word than the king of style: James Bond. To quote him in the movie Skyfall, ‘Sometimes the old ways are the best.’