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5:49pm on Thursday, 19th May, 2022:

Mr Rodney


When I was a student, I used to wait until I went back home to Yorkshire to get my hair cut. However, on one occasion I didn't go back home over the Easter break so needed a local haircut. I asked my friend where they got their hair cut, and one of them said "Mr Rodney".

Mr Rodney was a barber's near the castle. I went there and got my hair cut, and because it was fairly cheap and he did a good job, I kept going there. The establishment moved after a decade or two to a cheaper place up an alley, but I stayed loyal. Rodney himself used to train other people to cut hair, and when he retired he sold the business to his workers (the name by now was simply "Rodney's").

I was going to the university today to meet soon-to-be-Dr Nigel Roberts, and old friend from my undergraduate days, and because I had a bit of free time beforehand (having completed my CE317 exam marking yesterday) I thought I'd get my hair cut. Normally, I'd call Rodney's in advance, but I wasn't sure I'd get there in time so I decided I'd just drive into town and show up as a walk-in. 10am on a Thursday morning isn't peak time for barbers in Colchester, so I was fairly sure that if there wasn't a slot at 10am there'd be one at 10:15am.

Rodney's was shut. A notice on the door said that Rodney had died and today was his funeral. All the staff had gone to attend it.

That was disappointing. Obviously it was more disappointing for Rodney than for me, but still.

Colchester is awash with barbers, and on the way back to my car I passed one that looked fairly decent. There was one barber and no customers, so I chanced it.

It was pretty good, to be honest. It cost five quid more than Rodney's, but the haircut was better. The barber was Romanian, and has a side line of painting and restoring Icons for Orthodox churches (he has a degree in it). I may well go back there three months from now when my hair needs cutting again.

That's if he's still cutting hair. He uses the trimmer a lot, and the vibration makes his right hand go numb. I asked if there were special gloves that hairdressers could buy to protect them, like the ones for users of pneumatic drills, but he said there weren't. I suggested he look into how the construction worker gloves do their stuff, in case a more flexible, barber-friendly version could be developed. I won't say he was inspired to go for it, but he may mention the idea to his barber colleagues.

He asked me where I normally got my hair cut. I said Rodney's. He'd never heard of Rodney's.

I'll be picking my wife up from the train station in about an hour. There's a high chance she won't notice that I've had my hair cut. My younger daughter, on the other hand, probably sensed it from miles away while I was actually having it cut.

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