I Could easily have lost an ear!

These btave women certainly hoped for a better response!

These brave women certainly hoped for a better response!

I usually quite enjoy having my hair cut. It’s true to say that I no longer have the flowing locks of my youth which, though it may be hard for those who have known me only a few years to believe, once tumbled about my shoulders. Indeed I am always pleasantly surprised when visiting the hairdresser’s these days to find that I am not being charged a search fee in order to locate the few wispy strands that remain. None- the –less, the experience of sitting quietly in a chair whilst a proficient lady armed with clippers and scissors does her best to make me look respectable is one that I find satisfyingly soporific.

I am now of an age where my pepper and salt beard (more of the latter than the former these days) requires considerably more taming than the thinning patch atop my head. To put it bluntly, there is no longer any danger of my fringe impeding my vision, and I most certainly need a hat should I ever venture out into bright sunshine, (an event that seems increasingly unlikely as we enter June with temperatures in single degree temperatures).

Sometimes a little frivolous conversation with the lady wielding the scissors is welcome. A chance to view the world through the hairdresser’s eyes, to catch up on the local small town gossip, or to marvel at the latest news of television celebrities whose lives seem miraculously to be passing me by, presents an amusing diversion from the isolated bubble in which I appear to exist. But during my latest visit to the hairdresser’s chair the conversation took a turn which, far from lulling me towards somnambulant reverie almost placed me in mortal danger. (That last sentence is  I’m afraid a shameless example of hyperbole!)

Let me explain. Just in case it may have escaped your attention, which possibly means that you are currently emerging from a coma or have possibly only recently returned from Mars, we in the UK are currently in the ugly grip of referendum fever. Later this month we will be asked to indicate with the simple placing of a cross on a piece of paper, whether we wish to remain within the European Union, or sever our ties with our EU partners. In many ways this is the most important vote that we have been asked to cast in our recent history. Imagine then my horrified reaction on hearing the conversation between the lady who was so carefully attending to my coiffure and a similarly deployed young woman, cutting the hair of a gentleman seated in a chair just a few feet to my right. The dialogue that so violently assaulted my credulity was as follows.

Lady cutting my hair: “Have you decided how you will vote in the referendum?”

Young hairdresser at the next chair: “No, I haven’t given it any thought.”

First lady: “But it‘s very important, you really should think about what you are going to do.”

Young lady: “Oh, I suppose so, but it’s all too complicated. Anyway, I always ask my Dad. Every time I have to vote I ask my Dad. He always tells me who to vote for, and he tells my brother and sister too. He knows about these things, so he tells us and that’s what we do. That way we don’t have to think about these things.”

At this point I could easily have lost an ear! Had my instinct, which at that moment was to leap from the chair, taken over, the scissors that were at that point flying about my head could have inflicted serious harm. Somehow, by sheer willpower I managed to restrain myself from launching from beneath the hairdresser’s gown to cry:

“don’t you know that women lost their lives during their struggle to ensure that you have the right to vote? Have you not heard that Emmeline Pankhurst and her noble army of suffragettes spent time in dank prison cells fighting on your behalf? Are you not aware that Emily Widing Davison threw herself beneath the King’s racehorse at the Epsom Derby in 1913 and died in pursuit of women’s rights?”

Perhaps this is the action I should have taken, but I didn’t. Sadly, had I done so I suspect that I would simply have become the subject of the latest town gossip to entertain the next customers to the the hairdresser’s domain.

I left the hairdresser’s emporium looking tidier than on my entry. But I also departed in a mood of despondency. Could the future of the country really be determined at the whim of a hairdresser’s father?” Mary Wollstencraft may well be turning in her grave.

I despair!

4 thoughts on “I Could easily have lost an ear!

  1. Richard,
    No matter in which part of the world or culture we live, the second hairdresser’s fate is inescapable.I have come to believe that “oppression happens from the most intimate relationships”. In the lady’s case its the father. Most often as a school administrator, I have met couples equally educated, and empowered but it is assumed that the husband is the natural decision maker or the father. In India, election definitely brings out the same dilemma in a much cruder form.

    • Hi Sumathi. How very sad. We still appear to live in a world where some men see themselves as superior to men. A long way to go yet it would seem

  2. Reading this Richard – so many thoughts running through my mind. Thank you for making the time to share with such colourful oracy.

    Reading the comment above, I thought I would share a movement I am part of #WomenEd http://www.womened.org/

    It started out last year with a few women discussing the lack of women leadership and gender bias in education. A national unconference was held in London last Oct, where many of us (including myself) shared our ideas, visions and aspirations. It has grown phenomenally over last few months with twelve 1st anniversary parties taking place on 29th April. I hosted one in Milton Keynes. I am one of the regional leads. Internationally the movement has picked up – so not restricted to UK and the movement was mentioned in the recent DfE White Paper: Educational Excellence Everywhere.
    We are hosting an event in Coventry next March tied to International Women’s Day- would be good to have input from you/UoN colleagues. Regular local meetings planned in MK. One aspect is very much linked to The Global Goals 2015 i.e. #HeforShe (gender equality)
    Feel free to share with colleagues and students in UK and overseas.

    • Many thanks for this Anita. Sounds like an interesting initiative. It is a sad reflection on our education system that such actions are still required. Good luck

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