‘How’d you want it cut?’ That’s the first question they asked when you stopped in any barbershop when I was a kid. Today, many barbers advertise themselves as ‘stylists’, giving the impression they know more about your hair than you do.
I’ve lived in many places, and, when it comes to men’s hair, the stylists have cornered the market. But now that I’m in my 60s, I like to walk into an old-fashioned barbershop and have my haircut Sinatra-style – that is, my way.
One Bury barber who parts your hair the way you like it is David Lynch, owner of David’s at 6 Langton Place in town. Old pal Michael Peters, a retired local businessman, always raved about David’s.
The first time I checked out David’s, it was packed. Hovering briefly, I eyed a hodgepodge of witty postcards, pithy sayings, and foreign bank notes on the wall. David, a lean, silver-haired gent, grinned and guessed I was about to walk out. Extending his hand he said, ‘I’ll be right with you.’ I’ve been a regular ever since.
Happily for guys, Bury St Edmunds is spoilt for choice when it comes to manly barbershops, many now offering 1950s-style wet shaves. There’s Roberts, Celiks, Goodfellas, Carter’s, the King’s Road Barbers and The Barber Shop on Cannon Street, for example.
Like most barbers in Bury, David’s offers value for money. ‘We do more than cut hair. If someone is cranky, for example, I try to cheer him up,’ says David. And he does.
When I stopped in recently, the place was full of men having their hair cut by David and his talented assistants, Mark Dallorzo, Noel Turner and James Eastwood. Everyone enjoys the easy male conviviality of reading the papers or entering into the continuous light-hearted banter over which raconteur David presides.
‘I’ve been here 29 years,’ David told me, insisting he can’t remember when he took up barbering. He relishes playing the curmudgeon. ‘Actually, I trained as an electrician.’ At that, a customer puts down his paper and drolly retorts, ‘Shocking!’
‘Seriously,’ David adds, ‘When I took up cutting hair, my plan was to retire at 55. I’ll be 60 this year; it’s time to do something else.’ The sly flicker in his eye tells a different story, though, and another customer tut-tuts and presses him to be truthful. ‘
Actually’, he concedes, ‘I really enjoy cutting hair. I expect to be doing it for another five years.’
At that, the gentleman whose hair he’s cutting speaks up. ‘And I hope he stays longer! He cuts my hair very well.’
It’s Patrick Chung, Bury St Edmunds’ Mayor. Mr Chung eyes my tresses like a robin peering at a fat worm, adding with a wry smile, ‘You look like you should be in this chair next.’
David’s has it all. The tidy, well-lighted establishment is partitioned with sinks and high-tech stylist chairs in case you want a shampoo and rinse. A docile border collie stretches, wags her tail, and yawns deeply before going to sleep. In the background, under the sonorous hum of clippers and the reedy snipping of shears, Radio 2 plays softly.
Sure, listening to Radio 2 means you aren’t a young buck anymore, but astute businessman David keeps the dial set at 88 to 91 FM. ‘I like to give the customers what they want,’ he says, winking.
n Visit award-winning writer Michael Apichella’s website at www.michaelapichella.com or contact him at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter via @MApichellaPhD