Many moons have passed since I last ventured into a barber shop.
One look at my hairline gives you the reason why.
However, when I was told about a new barber shop in Portadown where you could have a sup while getting clipped, I volunteered my services to do an in-depth feature on the new establishment.
The Elk and Clipper in Thomas Street is a quaint establishment which takes on you on a journey back to the 1920s courtesy of its antiquated artefacts and olde worlde resonance.
They have a gramaphone, a ring-dial telephone, and a bar fully stocked with the world’s finest whiskeys. Upon arrival, I was licking my lips at the prospect of a Glenfiddich, but had to make do with a bottle of Carlsberg.
Dwaine Symth, best known in the town for his meat-cleaving skills, explained the thinking behind the new venture: “The barber shop used to be a way for men to escape. We’ve tried to recreate that man cave vibe in here. You can call in, have a complimentary drink while you wait, then get a haircut or shave.”
When I suggested getting five or six ‘haircuts’ in an afternoon, Dwaine pointed out their was a one drink per person per day rule. Had that not been the case the men of the town could have been leaving the premises devoid of every last hair on their heads and three sheets to the wind.
It had been that long since I’d been to a barber’s that I forgot about the patter between punter and stylist. As Alana Chadwick gave me a close shave I was a bit disappointed that she didn’t ask me if I was going anywhere nice on holidays. Instead in my role as a journalist I asked her questions like, “What’s the biggest beard you’ve ever encountered?” and “Do your customers ever fall asleep when you wrap their face up in a hot towel?”
Seriously though, being pampered with hot towels, cold towels and fancy creams and fragrances as well as cut-throat shaves with and against the grain, is something that a man like me is not used to. I’m quite capable of shaving myself of a morning with an electric razor and slapping on a bit of aftershave, yet having someone else perform that same essential act with an expert precision is a service that leaves me feeling like Royalty. I’m not talking Wills or Harry, but maybe one of their cousins that you rarely hear about.
Following a very thorough shave I was treated to a go on an Oster handheld massager which looked like something out of Buck Rogers and vibrated like a pneumatic drill. As Alana ran the device over my head and shoulders it felt like I was having my suspension checked. Surprisingly, it was an altogether pleasurable experience. Whether the alcohol influenced my opinion is neither here not there.
If, unlike myself, you’re someone who requires regular grooming then I’d recommend you call into the Elk and Clipper for a short back and ciders.