Lance the barber

My parents were fairly late to parenthood, especially for their generation. It is not so uncommon now, in 2017, to find first time parents in their late thirties and above, but in the late sixties, and early seventies, this wasn’t the case. Not that my parents didn’t have the energy to cope with a young family. Both my mother and father were (are) active and healthy people. Although what deal my father has made with his maker, only they know. I don’t know many smokers of his age. Especially ones who have medicinal tipples every evening.

But there were other, subtle differences in my childhood. Things that perhaps wouldn’t have been noticeable if I were writing this a hundred years earlier. As a child, rides in the cars of parents would mean hearing Radio 1 – the most youthful of the country’s radio stations. Or a tape featuring Genesis, or other bands who had once been interesting. This wasn’t  so in my parent’s car, as their extra few years meant they had missed the pop culture boom of the 1960’s. Fashion and haircuts too were less important to my parents, attitudes perhaps in keeping with people who had been children during the WW2, a time when, if photos are to be believed, haircuts were all uniform and sensible.

Perhaps this is the reason why as a boy, I had my hair cut by Lance, a barber who had a small high street shop with space for four waiting customers and a chair for the customer he was working on. Lance had very neat hair. And it didn’t change in all the years I visited him. Nor had it in later years when, back in town, I wandered past his shop.

Lance had a way of talking to the boys and men whose hair he cut. No doubt the words which came from my mouth lasted as long in Lance’s head as it took him to sweep my hair from his floor. But it was a form of communication which served a purpose. Time passed in a relaxed manner, another sensible cut completed.

I do have my photographic influences, but I also have life influences. And I think of Lance when I know I have a headshot/portrait session. His easy, relaxing manner. Making something learnt, which requires skill, appear easy. I wonder if Lance had a brain like mine, squirrelling away just enough information on any given subject to hold a conversation. on any number of topics. If he knew the name of Churchill’s house, or the season when Oldham Athletic were relegated, for example.

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