The hazards of hair-cutting


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Picture by gumult

Man A : Good heavens! Is it you? Bill McSwiggan?

Man B:  My God –  Bates Dwibbley!  I haven’t seen you in …what – ten years!

Bates: It must be that at least. How are things? What are you doing with yourself now, Bill?

Bill:  Well I was unemployed for a couple of years but I’ve got a job now.

Bates: What line of work?

Bill: Funeral director.

Bates: That’s nice. Do you like it?

Bill: I love it. Customers are very easy to work with.  What about you?

Bates: I’ve a little barber shop.

Bill: You’re kidding. Do you own it?

Bates:  Well it’s a family thing. I run it, my dad finances it.

Bill: Sweet. You like the work?

Bates: Love it. Although…

Bill:  Although what?…

Bates:  We’ve run into some bother of late.

Bill:  Bother?

Bates:  Beards.

Bill: Eh?

Bates: Beards. Men with beards.

Bill: What about them?

Bates: I’ve nothing against them. I wouldn’t wear one myself – definitely not – but I don’t mind others making that life choice.

Bill: Why mention them, then?

Bates: We don’t trim beards.

Bill: You don’t?

Bates:  No. We think beard-trimming encourages it.

Bill: Encourages what?

Bates: Growing them.

Bill: But you said you’d nothing against them.

Bates:  Well  let’s just say I’d be devastated  if my little boy grew up and started to become a beard-wearer. The thought of all that …hair on his face…I find it an unnatural sort of thing. But we go by the ‘Live and let live’  philosophy.

Bill: That seems reasonable.

Bates: We even have an embroidered sign inside the shop.”Live and Let Live”

Bill: Very nice.

Bates:  Only now …

Bill: Yes?

Bates:  Last month a man came in and when I’d finished cutting his hair, he said to me, right out of the blue:  “Give the oul beard a trim’.  I felt ill.

Bill: Because he’d asked you to trim his beard.

Bates: Yes. So I explained that while we’d nothing against beards as beards – live and let live – we simply couldn’t bring ourselves to…work with them. (Makes  a gulping sound) Even thinking about it makes me feel a bit queasy.

Bill: So how did the customer react?

Bates: He got quite rude. Began to say in a loud voice that he wasn’t going to be treated as a second-class citizen.

Bill: But he was in a way, wasn’t he? Like, you wouldn’t trim his beard.

Bates: Yes but I cut his hair, didn’t I? And I didn’t say I wasn’t keen on beards on men. I’m not, of course, but I didn’t say it.  I’ve talked things over with my dad and he says we must continue to defend our sincerely-held principles. No beard trimming.

Bill: So what’s going to happen?

Bates:  The man says he’s going to bring a case against me. He rang yesterday and said he’d got the backing of quite a few MLAs. Fortunately we’ve got Paul Givan on our side.

Bill:  Can’t say I know him.

Bates: MLA. Nice fresh-faced young guy. Vey clean-shaven. He says we have a right to stand by our principles. It’s not as if we’re saying ‘All beards barred’. It’s just that we’re revolted by the very idea of trimming them, and we think it’s our God-given right to refuse to do such a thing.

Bill: Mmm.

Bates: The trouble is, he says he’s going to bring a case for discrimination against people like him. Beard-owners.

Bill: Couldn’t he have gone to a barber’s that didn’t mind trimming beards?

Bates: That’s what we say too. But he insists his civil rights are being infringed and he’s taking it to the Equality Commission. Mr Givan says he’ll never win. I certainly hope not.

Bill: Weren’t you going to be a brain surgeon back in the day?

Bates: I was. But then I fell in love with barbering.

Bill: But not with beards.

Bates: No. I’d be telling a lie if I said I did.

Bill:  Do you think you’ll win your case?

Bates: Not sure. You’d be amazed how prejudiced people can be against those of us that stand up for our beliefs.

Bill:  You haven’t thought of going back to the brain surgery?

Bates: No. I sincerely believe I’ve a barbering vocation.

Bill:  But you never know. You might win your case with the Equality Commission?

Bates: I hope so. If this is a God-fearing country, they should realise that for us to trim beards would be to aid and abet in the growing of them. And that we believe would be morally wrong.

Bill:  Mmm. Well good luck, then.

Bates: Thank you very much. Come in some time and we’ll give you a trim.

Bill: Well…I’d love to. Only it’s my partner.

Bates: What about her?

Bill: She wants me to grow a beard. Just a small one, nice and neat. Goatee, sort of. Well-trimmed.

Bates: Oh.

Bill: What about eyebrows?

Bates:  Eyebrows?

Bill: Do you trim those?

Bates: Of course. We’re reasonable people.

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7 Responses to The hazards of hair-cutting

  1. Brian MacDomhnaill May 20, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Well, I’ll have you know that there are particular ordinances against ‘this sort of thing’ in that book which the devil may cite for his own ends. For example: “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard” (Leviticus 19:27); and, “They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh” (Leviticus 21:5). Not that the Bible has anything against the ancient craft of barbering. Far from it, Leviticus 11:2 decrees as follows ‘Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?’ (11:14). However,women’s hairdressers are advised to set aside their scissors: ‘But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering’. (11:15). As for wearing two fabrics at the same time, or planting two different crops in the same field … woe betide you!

  2. Jim Neeson May 20, 2015 at 9:36 am #


  3. BaldyBapTheBarber May 20, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    The best line was “Give the oul beard a trim’ – Cracker, I laughed at that alright.

    It’s the was you tell them Jude.

    • Jude Collins May 20, 2015 at 10:18 am #

      Grma, BBTB…

      • paddykool May 20, 2015 at 11:22 am #

        …and not a cake mentioned anywhere……. I must say I enjoyed Brian MacDomhnaill ‘s contribution … that sounds like quite a book of rules …couldn’t have been written by a pedant , could it?

  4. giordanobruno May 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Of course if the barber was happily trimming everybody else’s beard but refused to trim yours, you might feel a bit aggravated.