Chris van Schaick on his hairdressing disaster

Chris van Shaick © 2009 Stéphane Rocher Photography

Chris van Shaick © 2009 Stéphane Rocher Photography - Credit: Archant

A new hair style - even a short, back and sides - should be approached with a cool head or it may be more than just Valentine’s Day that is ruined

Of all my hairdressing humiliations, the worst was self-inflicted. And that’s before we even get onto the Ryan Giggs video and the time when I became the man with only one sideburn, more of those later - but first, the self-inflicted one.

With Valentine’s Day in mind, we all want to look our best in early February. So I shudder to think that the episode in question happened around this very time of year.

Round about 2002, men’s hair was going shorter. So it seemed silly to pay a hairdresser to do a simple clipper job. “I’ll buy my own clippers and cut out the middle man”, I thought; and save a lot of time and money.

The first few ‘self-clipperings’ went well. I’d snap on the number three guard, do most of it myself and then get my daughter to finish off the bit round the back - short but respectable.

If you read the reports into major disasters, they often identify a moment when inattentiveness prompted a catastrophic moment of human error. That’s what happened with my hair.

It was the night before I was to chair a conference of sixty colleagues from around the country at a swish London venue. A famous national magazine editor was to be the keynote speaker.

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I’d bustled into my hotel room the night before and, unwisely, tried a bit of multi-tasking. That’s a job, as I’m often told, that men are ill-equipped to take on.

My multi tasks were: run a bath, have a catch-up glance over the evening newspaper and do my hair. I switched the clippers on and ran them straight over the middle of my head. The problem was, that in my distraction, I’d forgotten to put on any of the guards – numbers three, two or even one. The result was the closest of Grade Zero crops – a terrible convict style and not a good look for a man about to make a public appearance.

So it was that my opening remarks at the conference were: “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome. I first wish to make a statement about my hair.”

Spin back a few years and men’s hair was longer, and the Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs was in his pomp - his locks were flowing.

At that stage, Mrs. v. S. was still having quite a big input into my haircuts, exactly where the graduated wedge should be and that sort of detail. She became exasperated in one of our hair styling discussions, terse words were spoken; and so it was that I found a video of Ryan Giggs’ Greatest Goals being stuffed into my hand with an order (and it was an order) to get down the hairdressers and get it cut like that.

This memory brings me back to the first haircut of my grown up working life – in a salon now long gone from Above Bar in Southampton. It seemed to go well and afterwards, I walked up the sunlit Southampton street admiring my new look reflected in the shop windows. It was then I realised something was wrong. They cut off one sideburn, but not the other.

It all goes to show, to adapt a legendary phrase, that the price of a good haircut is eternal vigilance.

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