London Tales 5 – LondonHair
Soho was fast becoming the gay capital of England, with Brixton coming a close second.
Men and women of all ages converged in the area to share and convive in their coming out. This was a new era and Soho was the place it was at. Thatcherism had brought a new decadence. Money was pouring, beer was flowing and just about every Tom, Dick and Harry drove a Beemer.
Our little shop was at the bottom of Compton Street, not far from the recent bombing which claimed three lives. At that time there were no designated pubs, clubs or areas for gays to socially gather other than two or so pubs in the local vicinity. Nowadays the area is synonymous with the word gay.
I asked her to tilt her head forward and she obliged. Ensuring that the grade 2 was securely attached I switched the unit on. She did not flinch.
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The electric tool zipped up her nape carving a lane through her hair. I stopped short a few inches from her crown; the second run ploughed her hairline, cultivating an even finish. The strokes continued until her previously dark nape looked crisp and grey. Taking care not to sever any of the longer lengths either side of her head I now ran the clippers with the grade 1 I had just attached. The grade 1 left a stark effect in comparison to the previously shaved grade. I liberally ran the clippers from the base of her nape up the middle of her neck in a plough and lift motion, in order to blend the cut. The few clients who sat, watched – I wondered what she must have been thinking as the people behind her gazed.
The main clipper work completed I worked with the scissors and comb through the hair which had been graded with the number 2, still cropping the hair forever closer. I now worked towards the main lengths widening the cropped nape – the idea being to give the back/neck complete exposure. I ran the clippers without a guard briskly up the base of the nape to give it a final emphasis on graduation. I swivelled the chair round and began to wash her hair.
My fingers stroked her longer lengths away from her forehead. As I massaged some shampoo through her scalp, I ran my hand through her nape. The sensation of feeling her shaved nape forming up to short cropped lengths, through to her longer hair. Her shoulders lowered, she sighed.
Her hair would no longer be a bob I told her. She ran her fingertips from her right temple over the crest of her head to her nape and said she wanted that cut short. She said she had seen it on a few people and this is what she wanted. “Well,” I said. “I don’t know if this is going to suit you. How short are we talking about?”
She ran her hand through her hair again with the actions of the clippers. “Just really cropped.”
I lifted a segment of hair from the top, displaying the whole side with the comb. “You want this cut?” I asked, referring to her hair.
At first her hair came off in shapeless lanes revealing her cheek and then her ear. I cropped the upper layers and finally worked on ensuring the uppermost lengths maintained some integrity and stayed in position over her scalp. I had completed the cut through the side in the same way as I had done with the back. Brushing the long layers to the left side I began to blunt scissor her hair from the eyeline just over and past her left ear. Some remnants of her left sideburn remained which I took off with the clippers. The back layers were heavily graduated to meet the shaved nape. I gathered these layers and cropped them shorter. To balance the cut I decided to raise the grade 1 up the nape 2 or so inches further. She looked fantastic. I blow-dried her hair and let her go.
Three forty five. My next client was a young man with an overgrown wedge who needed re-doing.
Four ten – a denim-clad young woman sat at my chair. Her hair had been highlighted at the top and she had sported a centre parted ear length bob. An earring in one ear.
“Hi, what would you like done?”
“Yeah – I wannit cut really short at the back, at the sides, over da top – but I wanna little bit o’ fringe left.”
“Do you know if you want a French crop or a crew?”
“What’s the difference?” she asked.
“OK – a French crop is shaved all over with a fringe left.” I demonstrated with my comb. “A crew is shaved at the sides, back – slightly longer top – you can have a fringe…”
“Yeah, go for a crew.”
“How short do you want it?”
“A one at the sides and back.”
“Are you sure?” I had to check.
I removed the grade 1 from my previous exploit and attached a grade 4. The plastic attachment lifted her hair high off her nape before the vibrating teeth began to gnaw a lane up her virgin white nape. I negotiated the clippers well past her crown before commencing a new stroke. Her hair shaved to under half an inch except for the fringe, I removed the attachment and grabbed the flattop comb. Placing the comb flat against the uppermost side of her head I planed what hair poked out – continuing around her head until the top sides and back were shaved in a straight angle to a few millimetres. Long reams of hair rested on her cape and shoulders. Taking my normal comb I now ran it over the top of her skull methodically clipping the hair with my scissors. Nipping her fringe between my fingers I asked her how short she wanted it. Not receiving a comprehensible reply I feathered her fringe and left it at about an inch and a half.
“It’s not too short for you, is it?” I asked, you never know.
“Nah – actually…” she dribbled, “can you do the sides and back so there ain’t nuffink there?”
“What, a zero?”
“Yeah.” Well it was already ultra short.
I reached above the mirror where we keep knick-knacks. On the shelf we used to have odds and ends and a couple of old-fashioned style hand-operated clippers. I thought I’d give it a try, as the last time had been when I first started out in a barber’s shop a few years previously. She voluntarily tilted her head forward.
Dusting the small tool off, I applied some oil and tightened the head. I placed the silver instrument against the base of her skull and began working it, my right hand flexing in and out. The clipper leaves a gorgeous finish, not completely shaving the hair as an electric unit might but instead leaving a small prickle. With the nape shaved, I bent her ear down as I shaved an inch of hair from it. Now the side and sideburn and the other side. This technique had left a harsh line around her head but was soon put to right as I then ran a grade 1 with the electric clippers, fading the shaved and the cropped. One happy cropped lamb.
My last client of that day was another young lady who had previously had a step/bowl (a badly-cut one by looks) and had wanted it re-done. She sat in the chair, big hoop earrings, one side higher that the other. The bowl followed the contour of her skull and carried just touching her ears. She did however, as she pointed out, want the bowl cut an inch or so above the ears – as it was becoming the trend. I clipped her hair up the sides, an inch above the ears and up the nape and re-cut the step after washing it.
Waiting for the last style to finish, I sat around and waited to Sonya to finish. Rosa asked if Monday night was still on as I was due to cut her hair – her hair was already short – but she was going for a French crop. I told her no problem and left with the gang.
(c) MIGKIL 1999-06-08M