Dear Reader, gaze upon my photograph and note the unruly mop of hair settled like a furry jelly fish atop my head. I’ve often been asked why I didn’t brush my hair, or get a haircut before the shot, and the sad truth is; I had. It’s the price I’m paying for clinging onto a long dead fashion.
Long hair was part of the uniform of my youth; along with denim jackets, beaded necklaces, gym boots, and tight, flared jeans. A uniform utterly unsuitable for Gladstone’s sub-tropical climate. But we boys were so determined to look ‘cool’ that we were willing to suffer heat-stroke if necessary.
In order to preserve the next generation of layabouts, our parents would frequently round us up, and drag us kicking and screaming to the hairdressers. And many a shattered hairdresser grumbled that cutting my wiry locks was like trying to hack through an inner spring mattress with a butter knife.
Several unfortunate wretches though, were hauled off to the barbers’ shop, the place where ‘cool’ looks were terminated. And there was one old barber in town I tried to avoid. He’d stand like a wizened sentinel outside Lavers’ Sports store in Goondoon Street, greeting passers-by with a friendly comment, or a cheery wave, but whenever he spotted me, his eyes would narrow and his fingers would start twitching.
As I wandered about the store, pawing at the cricket bats and soccer balls, he’d ask, “Wanna haircut son?” and point at the shrubbery on my head. “No thanks,” I’d mumble, and quickly shuffle off to savour the aroma of a new can of tennis balls.
He’d loiter nearby, possibly fighting an overwhelming urge to grip me in a headlock and shear off my shaggy mop. I’m forever grateful he didn’t.
Time marched on, and the barber and the sports shop disappeared, along with many other things that didn’t survive the 1980’s, like flares, long hair and my flat stomach. Today’s young men actually want short hair and long shorts?! Now, I’ll admit it’s a sensible fashion choice for our hot climate, but I don’t think it’s ‘cool’ looking; though I’m sure it would warm the old barber’s heart.
And as you can see from my photograph, I’m obviously hoping for the wheel to turn again, and soon, before I go bald and start ridiculing those young folk with their long unkempt hair.