There was a battery of bone-handled shaving brushes of the cylindrical variety on display on the narrow counter at chest height before him and from these Hugh Gorman chose one with short, white-tipped, horse-hair bristles.
He dipped it into a shaving mug and violently chugged it up and down in the soapy contents. A rich white foam surged over the lip and dripped into the waiting basin below. Finally content with the viscosity, he approached the waiting customer again.
In one fluid motion, the warm, moist towel was whisked away and the lather applied generously to the waiting customer’s chin.
Within seconds the old South Armagh farmer (you’d know by the look of him!) resembled some Santa Claus figure with a thick white beard!
Hugh exchanged the brush for the cut-throat and returned temporarily to the leather strap, to ensure the keenest possible edge.
He stroked, flipped and reversed the blade back and forth quicker than the eye could see. Shuwmpp … swichhh …slapppp. Content at last, he went into action.
The steel made a whistling sound as the barber drew it down, from sideburn to chin. Amid the suds a clear pink track appeared and the barber flipped excess foam from the blade into the basin. He paused to study his handiwork.
He applied himself now to the other side, repeated the process and stepped back again to gauge the result.
The germ of an idea was forming in my mind but for a moment I was distracted by the ministrations of Seamus Jennings much closer to home. Having combed a lock of my hair tightly upwards, he now clutched it tightly between two fingers and applied the flying blades with his other hand. A mist of tiny hairs spouted into the air.
But, via the mirror to my right, I couldn’t take my eyes off the razor in the hands of the barber at the next chair. He had finished with the cheeks and now was applying himself to the man’s neck and throat with the deadly blade. I held my breath!
Suddenly a loud sneeze from a waiting customer rent the air.
Everyone jumped and turned.
I glanced back quickly to the cut-throat wielder!
Cool as a cucumber, he was diligently applying himself to the task in hand.
He hadn’t missed a stroke.
The farmer’s jugular vein was still intact!
Then and there I knew I had found my future profession.
I would be a barber!
And I knew where to find models galore to practice on.
My younger brothers. I had FOUR of them.
And twice that number of sisters!
… more later …