Back at home now, I noted that my father was still at work and my mother had gone to town to collect the ‘Family Allowance’. I wouldn’t get a better chance that this!
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Mum’s sewing box contained – amongst many other treasures – a sharp pair of scissors. They were slightly oversized for my growing fingers but they’d have to do. There was a comb on her dressing table. There was a brush there too: it was the wrong size and shape and I had no notion of its proper function, but it’d have to do now as a shaving brush. I collected a mug from the cupboard in the scullery and some soap.
There was a dish cloth too, which would do for the ‘hot towel’ effect. And a tea cloth for spreading on shoulders and tucking in at the back of the neck. I could get a brush and pan later for collecting the razed locks before disposal in the bin.
In the bathroom I found an old razor of Dad’s, with a used ‘7 O’Clock’ blade in it.
Now that I was fully equipped I rounded up my younger brothers and sisters.
I had some difficulty in persuading them that I had mum’s permission for shaving them and cutting their hair.
‘Mum can’t afford to pay a barber,’ I reasoned. It was true.
‘But YOU went to the proper hairdressers,’ complained one sister – I don’t know which; I still couldn’t tell between them.
‘Only to learn how to do it’, I informed her, gravely. ‘I watched very carefully.’
And I had!
‘Only the boys need shaving!’ I reassured them, to the girls’ great relief.
‘But the girls will have to lose their plaits!
They’re trollopy and out-of-fashion anyway!’
I clicked the scissors – Seamus-fashion – to emphasise the point.
It didn’t quite work. They were sticking halfway.
There were a few moans of complaint which I silenced with sharp rebukes.
‘Who’s first?’ I asked, gaily.
I had my eye on the child, Brian. His mop of blond curls was frankly obscene.
‘Didn’t my mum know he was a BOY?’ I asked myself, rhetorically.
… more later …