A LITTLE-KNOWN fact about me is that I used to be a barber. Back in 2012, I took a notion to go to college after feeling a wee bit stuck career-wise. When I looked up the courses, barbering immediately jumped out at me. Straight away I imagined myself having my own shop, music on, my mates coming round to sit about and have a laugh, regulars stoating in and greeting me warmly with a handshake then I’d pass them a beer for while they wait. I thought it sounded absolutely class.

Things obviously didn’t quite turn out like this. At college, you had two choices: cut the brittle, almost plastic hair of a mannequin head mounted on a pole. Its face all glazed over and waxy. This was no good as not only was it not anything like cutting real hair, you also couldn’t practice barber patter on it. The other option was to rope in a pal to let you, a complete novice, cut their hair. I went for the latter. Getting my mates, my wee cousins, my wee brother and even my granda to come in with me and let me butcher them.

The results were mixed at best.

I did eventually become quite competent, however. I could rattle out a very decent short back and sides and even got no bad at doing fades. My skills eventually landed me a part time job in a shop on Duke Street.

“Go and find a guy oan the street,” my new boss said to me on my first day. “Tell him you’ll gie him a free haircut so I can see wit you can dae.”

I found a victim straight away. “Ye want a free haircut, mate?” I said to a workie coming out of Greggs. “Eh, aye,” he said cheerfully. “Why no?”

My boss told me to just do what I think would suit him. I was quite happy with it and appeared to have earned my new boss’s seal of approval.

“Can ye use an open razor?” he asked me after this.

“Naw, sorry,” I said. I thought about just saying aye and then winging it if I had to use one but the risk factor here was simply too high. What if I cut some poor soul’s whole heid off?

He gave me a crash course then got me to shave the back of a guy’s neck with one. On the first downward stroke, hands trembling with fear, I knicked a wee skin tag. Blood everywhere.

“Everything awrite?” the customer asked me, obviously seeing the colour drain from

my face in the mirror. “Aye,

totally sound, mate,” I lied. My boss took over and sorted out the mess.

The next few shifts went by uneventfully. One day, the conversation in the shop turned to the origins of surnames. “Ma name’s McAuley,” said my boss. “‘Auley’ comes from ‘Odin’ the Norse god. ‘Mc’ means ‘Son of’ so I’m ‘Son of Odin’.”

I ignored the conversation, praying I wouldn’t be called upon here. No such luck.

“Chris, tell them yours,” my colleagued shouted in the midst of the packed shop.

“McQueer,” I said with a sigh. Rapturous laughter followed.

“Hahahaha. Son of Queer!”

I handed in my notice soon after. Fed up of the slaggings but also fed up with the mundane barber patter I was having to dish out. I liked cutting hair but working in a barbers just wasn’t for me. The dream was over.

A few months after chucking it, I had a party at mine. Several cans deep, my pal says he’s desperate for a haircut but is skint. “Not a problem,” I say, getting up to retrieve my trusty clippers from the cupboard. Emboldened by the alcohol, it was as if I’d been

cutting hair for decades. I delivered the finest haircut my mate had ever had while everyone else watched on through their fingers, terrified in case I cut off an ear

or two.

This skill has come in handy during lockdown, however. Me and my girlfriend were staying at her parent’s for the weekend just before lockdown was announced, as a result we’ve just stayed. I’ve earned my keep by cutting her da’s hair.

Whenever I’ve seen any politicians on the telly the last few weeks, I’ve noticed they all seem to be sporting very neat and tidy haircuts – unusual given that the barbers have all been shut. I wonder who’s cutting their hair? I know Boris definitely cuts his own hair, judging by the state of it I’d say he maybe uses his feet.

Something I’ve never done is cut my own hair. I did try a couple of years ago but my head kept pulling away from the clippers and the scissors, practically of its own accord. I’d like to just let it grow and see what happens but my hair doesn’t seem to get longer, it just gets bigger. At some point I’m going to have to tackle it. If you see me out and about after all this wearing a hat, mind your

own business.