The invisible masculine

The invisible masculine.

So I read a lot of articles with guys trying to articulate on what masculinity is in modern day society, and how a man should use that masculinity and in what way.
I like a lot of viewpoints which I have read, mainly thanks to “the good men project”. A very enjoyable site full of people with very good opinions on most things.
As much as I enjoy a lot of these viewpoints they always leave me slightly empty as in conclusions and short of a theory that would finally put words to what many of us feel. But.. No such joy, just more guys trying to work it out also.
You see, as a barber I have infinite contact with men from all cultures and most class structures. I have so much information and the ability to understand it. I have just found it hard putting it into words…. Until now, I am ready to try.
I will apologise to all you guys that do not connect with what I say, and for those that do, your welcome.
When I think of men in modern society I think of 500 guys gathered and bunched like a herd in a circle.
There is a fence around them, we could call the fence “helping you be who we think your supposed to be”, it’s a long name but I am half Greek and used to long names.
In my image when the fence is taken away the men move in different directions, some quicker than others, some are looking for guidance and continue round in a circle not sure of them selves or what they are looking for, some run so fast that they trip and fall only to run back again, back and forth falling and rising, some guys attach to each other and form a new circle with an invisible fence, others stand frozen and others lie down, maybe even sucking their thumb.
It all looks like one hell of a mess.
But then…. There is always the guy who when the fence is removed, turns and looks out into the distance. He steadily starts walking just looking straight ahead. His walk is calm and one paced, he is assured and seems to know what the rest don’t. As I watch the abstract picture of men walking round in circles, falling over and lying down, I also see this one man walking off into the distance.
So I ask…. Who is the real man in this group??
My answer will always be the same.
ALL OF THEM!!!
As men & women in society we should all aspire to be what nature intended for us, following our instincts and trusting this amazing body and mind we have been given. For some that has been more difficult than others. Our experiences in our own societies and families have been unique to us and we do the best we can with what we have been left with. But… Don’t ever forget guys. Masculinity for me, is trying to be as close to your true self as possible, whatever self that is.
So let’s not label masculinity, we are not all meant to be heroes or soldiers , world leaders or farmers.
For most of us it’s just hard enough being ourselves.
As for the guy who walked off in a straight line…. Came to a cliff, had to stop, still standing there I think!!!

Your barber

Sent from my iPhone

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Barber man

My first memory of barber man was seeing the way he dressed walking down our road.
He was not a big man , and he wore little leather coats, but would never feel the cold.
He had a huge moustache and very dark skin and always wore shoes that would click.
Don’t walk too close to me barber man, my friends will think I’m a dick.
Everyone seemed to know you barber man, I even saw you round at my home.
You seemed different then, somehow more relaxed, with your open shirt, and the pocket holding your comb.
Your hair was black and your skin was brown and I wondered where you were from.
The only other person I knew with skin like you barber man ,was a guy who would always say shalom.
As I grew you were always about, I remember you offering to take me to football training.
2 buses then You walked and you talked and you smoked and you warned about being safe in a world that was amazing.
I think sometimes about you barber man and how fucking embarrassing you could be.
Like when watching one of my training sessions, a park dog chose your coat for a pee.
I was mortified as my team mates laughed at the barber man with the pissy coat.
What did I do to deserve such shame from a man who looked like he belonged on a fishing boat.
I used to play football on the streets with my mates, you could back then using your front wall as a goal, You would play untill one shouted “car” and stand aside waiting for it to pass and watch it try to avoid the boulder. And at the same time every night, around quarter to seven, you would see the shape of barber man with he’s short legs and he’s little jacket casually flung over his shoulder.
I remember once when barber man took me to the barbershop where he worked, I watched him while he cut and laughed he’s way through a very long day,
and at the end he would cut mine too, with he’s rolled up sleeves and his hairy arms on that sweet spring day in May.
Leather lane, that was it. The first of his shops i saw, he knew so many people it shocked me to see,
from this solitary man who was always alone, to this barber man who knew many.
It was seeing him in Covent garden which I remember best, while he cut my hair still surrounded by that same smell, I think they call it friction, a tonic for the hair.
I was older now and got the train, it had been too long since barber man started cutting my barnet and to follow him seemed only fair.
See I wasn’t a kid anymore and did not hang out, outside our house, I did not see barber man these days walking up our street.
It’s funny what you think about when you hit a certain age, at 16 I couldn’t have given a shit what time barber man came walking , or in the morning I would now be asleep for the clickety clackerty sound outside of the cheap shoes he wore on his feet.
When I reached 19 word came to me that barber man would have his own shop
, shit dude, your boss man now, does that mean I get a free chop.
I passed my test and barber man helped buy my first car, a shitty little fiat uno,the kind of car my kids will never have, the kind that was utterly shit.
So I used to drive now to get my trim all the way to Covent garden, my hope was that barber man would accept a ride back to our street, and share with him my manly tales of my life and living and let him see the cool shoes I wore on my feet.
He was everywhere for always was barber man with his shitty shoes and weird colour skin, his cuffs rolled up, he was even at my cousins wedding.
It was laughs all round with everyone I knew and barber man was there,
looking extremely sharp, even if I say so myself, I even did wonder , who cut his hair?
Then at one stage while I smoked drank and danced,I saw the guest converge and someone scream, this was North London, Tottenham and screaming was not rare,
but then I noticed barber man not moving on the floor, but just lying there.
The ambulance came and people were crying, this barber man was really loved.
I heard a lot of whispering and people were guessing , is he dead or pissed? Did he fall or was he shoved?
Shoved he was not, unfortunately and barber man never returned.
But guess who the barber man is now. That’s right, I only went and learned.
I think about him everyday and the simple way he chose to live,
with no shame or judgement passed, but with a family too which he would only give.
My dad, the barber man.

Self esteem vs work

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What is the meaning of life? Where does our male libido lead us? Where does it search for its self worth?
In the barbers chair I find that unfortunately the answer for most men lies at work.
Men’s need for a sense of purpose has over the years become very much about work and where they lie in their chosen sector.
Is it a top 10 firm? Am I a work ant or middle management, maybe for some, a supervisor role is as high as they would expect of themselves? Maybe the plan is to work up to MD.
Or even learn all you can and then start up your own business and then sell that and start again. Maybe?
So are we obsessed with status and hierarchy at work? And if so, how does it impact our lives outside work?
How as a race of beings will we ever be happy if we are chasing a horse we will never catch, let’s name him “never enough”. He is very mobile and every time you get close I guarantee he pulls away.
And if our focus and libido in life is given to catching this fine beast, where does that leave other people in our lives?
Do we have genuine relationships through contented lives? Or do we just use relationships again to help us catch the beast?
If this is the case then what is the quality of our relationships? I mean, hey, we are not bad guys who go around using people to continuously climb our social ladders, are we?
I don’t believe so. Consciously! But I do believe our libido , the one chasing the horse might. He might choose your friends, be it by their appearance or class, maybe wealth or just because they had a bloody good education. Either way I question the quality of our happiness depending on the obsessional attitude towards catching the beast.
I find it strange as I write but also quite natural that we allow our sector or industry dictate how we feel about ourselves and how it effects our confidence and self worth. To the point that all else is blind to us emotionally. This includes what some would perceive as all you actually need. A loving partner, doting healthy kids, a house for you all to share, family who adore you and friends who would drop anything for you if needed.
What more is there to bring genuine happiness and contentment to our lives?
Contentment at work!!! How do we achieve this?
I don’t know, myself I have owned my own little barber shop for 17 years now in a prominent London location. Confidence wise I feel at the top of my game and enjoy my staff and clientele. I answer to nobody ( maybe the tax man) . This means I don’t chase the horse even though my earnings are not as high as many middle management guys out there still thriving to achieve more.
This helps my contentment in life and gives me the confidence to truly accept the respect and love that my family offer me and I them.
I am lucky. I know this.
So think about it guys! Don’t let your industry or chosen sector mould you into something you are not. Take a step back and see what else is there.
So to work toward a happier life maybe we need to think of our life as a pie chart. And let’s give work 15% of that pie. And the rest…… Let’s see how filling the rest goes.

Your barber

Useful or useless

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Why do some of us feel incapable of booking a family holiday?
In the right environment most people given the proper tools can thrive in what they do and even to some extent, master. Wether it be running a small business or keeping office stock constantly available for a company to work at its maximum.
Maybe a health and safety officer for a whole company. Maybe you are the person who maps all our roads and cuts down congestion while doing so, or a receptionist in a busy environment multi tasking beyond belief. Each and every one of you are irreplaceable in your sector by bringing expertise and value to your respective companies.
But does this qualify you to book a family holiday? I mean… How hard can it be. I know, a list.
How many people going, kids and adults?
Where to go? Beach holiday or maybe more culture?
How long can we go for? What is our budget? When can we go? Are the kids at school? Do we choose a family resort? Or hire a house/cottage? Hmmmm, that’s just a start.
Once these questions begin to have answers, surely it is just a simple case of logging on, entering dates, destinations and bank card details. Done done and done. Well done you!
Or is it? Would your partner be accepting of what you have arranged? I mean, you did ask all the right questions, didn’t you?
The chances are you did not. Why? Because sometimes whatever you do will never be good enough.
I see this in the barbers chair alot. Now I am not making victims of men here, on the contrary, I have men who have control of these tasks.
The problem I find with this is that what people believe to be sticking to ones strengths is actually projecting weaknesses on a partner where there might not be need to. Remember… Perfectly able in all aspects of life outside the house. But inside…. Just leave well alone.
There are different reasons this can happen and like fingerprints, relationship will have their own.
I wonder if loving someone at times means allowing them to have the role at home in which they need to thrive? Why do they need it? Is that how they saw their own parents? Dis balanced in responsibility at home?
Could it be the case of just not having a good parent at all?
Growing into a state of mind where depending on somebody else is never safe enough.
We can never truly know.
Is it a money thing? I pay you do everything else( like dad , or mum) ?

But…. What does it do for our relationship, by being the one who concedes uselessness at home?
Are you the weaker side of the team or do your suggested strengths restore balance in the relationship.
Personally I saw my dad as only good for going to work and bringing money home. My mother was the one who organised everything at home.
I feel sad at the thought of not being able to see both parents working as a team and thriving or failing together.
In my experience, with my own wife and kids, whether a family holiday is perfect down to every single detail…. It is the being together and enjoying the good times and experiencing the bad , which bonds us as a family, them imperfections can bring stronger more fonder memories to a family than perfection ever can.
It is the experience of sharing the credit, and the blame which creates a blameless no guilt  bond between couples, which becomes witnessed by the kids.
So … Next time there are decisions to be made at home. Try to share them, help both yourself and your partner to remove what can be at times an irreparable misbalance. Whatever your perceived strengths or weaknesses you will always add value at a level the other cant.

Your barber

Barber vs brand

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Barbers vs Brand

What is a barbershop?
I must confess I am slightly old school in my thinking and modern in my execution.
In recent years I have seen a resurgence in old fashioned barbershops. Problem is, are they really barbershops? Or a male grooming salon?
These new concepts for me are removed from the classic old barbers mainly down to price and the structure of how the business is run , which is similar to the high end ladies salons which for years has been mostly branded for product sales and eventually franchise options.
All about business!!
A barbershop in my opinion should be more like a community salon, similar to the old television programme ” cheers”, where everybody knows your name. The environment should be down to earth and lack pretentiousness, the reason for this is so men have the space to be expressive without judgement. A place for story telling, debates and male humour. If you can mix these qualities with a good haircut you will have a barbershop that functions well.
Another quality the new concepts lack for me is the captain Birdseye of the barbershop. The seasoned barber who has worked the shop floor and believes in the old ways with the right amount of modernisation to still attract all generations .
I have spoken to many men who have been bought gift vouchers for these new concept barbers and the biggest complaint is the young managers and staff, slightly wet behind the ears and overtrained in salon etiquette.

Each genuine barbershop will have it’s own unique style and atmosphere and that has to drip down from the barber who owns the shop and loves what he does. He will know what staff is right for he’s or hers shop because he is there on the shop floor and understands his clients needs through first hand experience.
So… I would love to know guys, what is it you expect from your barbershop? Is it ambience, atmosphere, location, price or all?

Your barber

Barbershop stories

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So , I have been very fortunate in my barbering career.
The barbers chair in my opinion is and always has been a very privileged experience.
I took my first barbers chair in Covent garden in 1995.
Back then I was still a boy and had only really experienced the bubble I grew up in which was tottenham, north London.
But out of nowhere I started to meet all kinds of people from all different kinds of places , all whom had their own unique stories and backgrounds.
When I think back this really feels like the beginning of phase 2 in my education of life. (the streets of tottenham being the 1st)!
I have always felt fortunate that I have always understood most things I saw or experienced in life and have always been intellectually able and a quick learner.
At 21 years old i started to learn about the world and the possibilities it brings through the barbers chair.
I met the most wonderful people and Have some amazing memories.

One rainy day there were 4 of us barbers working and I was running the shop. We had a great mix of characters working at the time and honestly, the shop was as far from PC as you could find, back then I think we went out of our way to be shocking, sexual and humorous and we certainly had the staff to pull off the most brilliant atmosphere that guys just seemed to love, (they must of, because come Saturday the queue was outside the shop allll day).
We were shocking , and our clients joined in, we loved it, a place of free speech and banter. Every now and again someone would rise up and put us all to rights, which was also great, as then huge discussions would unfold and as barbers we could all rise if intellectually challenged.
I remember clients phoning the shop hours after leaving ,trying to find out how a story or discussion had ended after they had left to return to work.
We experienced all men and some very short haired ladies. Did we tone it down for the girls. I doubt it , but most returned if not for the haircut then for the atmosphere we all created day in, day out.

One story always stays in mind:
It was a cold October day in Covent garden and it was raining with very little light outside. We were busy as usual in the barber shop with a full house of guys in chairs chatting and waiting.
A guy I worked with at the time noticed a man walk past wearing shorts. That was it, he started a whole rant about everything wrong in society being purely down to men who wear shorts in winter. Clients were laughing, we all were and throwing our own anecdotes in. By the end the whole worlds problems were down to men who wear shorts in the winter. But…… As this particular colleague of mine removed the gown from his freshly trimmed gentleman, the man stood embarrassingly to reveal a pair of shorts. ( I laugh as I write), still funny after all these years. Classic barbershop, luckily he laughed it off, paid and left, never to return. (can’t win em all). But what he did leave like many of my staff, clients and locals is 18 years of great memories. Not all happy, some extremely sad ones. But they all make up the one amazing experience and as I said earlier , privilege of being behind the barbers chair.

Your Barber

A tired father

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Talking to some of dad clients we sometimes discuss the boredom of looking after little ones.
Some may say “tired”, and I do not outright dismiss this, but, when is the last time you felt tired doing something you enjoyed?
Staying at home and getting yourself into a set routine can be tedious which will lead to that tired/bored feeling. Playing a child’s favourite game over and over just to appease your child can be tedious.
Also, it’s not just about mutual play , a child wants and needs to feel enjoyed.
So what’s the answer?
As a parent you have to mix it up and sometimes LEAD.
Do stuff that you would enjoy that is also child friendly. Pass on skills that you may have, gardening, woodwork, art or even a kick around in the park.
Try to travel, kids love trains. A visit to a favourite destination of your that is child friendly will help you enjoy more.
As parents we sometimes forget our own happiness which is just as important as our child’s.
Remember , it’s the same as our in flight instructions, put your own oxygen mask first and then, only then can you put your child’s on.
So, next time child minding feels too tiring…. Give some thought to what can help and get productive.

Your barber

The good, the bad and the rich

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So… In the barbers chair a repetitive subject keeps jumping out at me but I have never known how to write about it.
There seems to be an opinion out there that in modern day society people are willing to fuck anybody over to get ahead.
I never quite know how to phrase this buy I always have a vision of the film Indiana jones and the temple of doom, one of the final dramatic scenes is where the rope ladder gets cut in order for our hero to have a chance of survival. He does pre warn his friends who prepare themselves for this brave and heroic manuvure.
The bad guys though are caught completely by surprise and many fall to their deaths. Our main villain survives this as does our hero and a few remaining baddies , well done, a fine achievement all round. Take a bow guys .
But now they have to climb this cliff face, up this rickety broken rope ladder for survival.
Luckily our heroes all get up the ladder, and to safety quick, apart from our main hero Indy. His stuck midway down and has a few baddies above and below.
Our main baddie, Molda Raam ,if I remember. Been a while!!
He still wants Indy dead, and this is what comes to my mind when I think of society, as he climbs toward survival he stars to throw his own men off the ladder to their deaths in order that they might hit Indy on their way down and finish the battle once and for all and maintain the lifestyle he has come to enjoy, ( he obviously did not read the script ) all in vain his men die at he’s hands as they fly past Indy on the way down. Indy of course survives and Molda Raam dies as is the nature of these particular films.
I am not saying that I strictly view the society I live in this way, but more and more people are telling me stories about their lives and interactions with others and more and more as I listen, this movie scene pops into my head.
So the question I ask myself is this, because I actually do believe in the goodness of people.
Why are we sooooo obsessed with success? ,that we awarefully fuck others over?
Or, should the question be
Are we fucking each other over just to survive?
I must admit there is a huge tier system in this world and in reality there are plenty of Molda Raams in this who did get to the top of their ladders by throwing their fellow men down.
Is the society I live in just fighting for the scraps filtered down from above, in essence, the bones?
Consumerism has for most become our fix, we neeeeeed stuff, really neeeeeed all that stuff that makes life a success visually.
I think about this in a context of being stood in a crowd of hundreds of people, and all of a sudden someone throws £10,000 in the air.
So lets try to consider before we judge too harshly, How far would you go to get your peice?

What do men really think about themselves?

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How do us men see ourselves really?
Are we attractive enough?
In the barbers chair we improve the physical image but what lies beneath.

So, how attractive do you think you are to others? …
Is your answer an improvement on previous feelings or a lesser opinion?

I consider myself to be “pleasant enough to the eye”.
This is a much improved feeling about myself for which I am pleased.

So… What do you see in the mirror?

Male mid life crisis?

Male mid life crisis

When I was studying child psychotherapy , I was surprised to learn that we can relate different periods of our lives as patterns.
We can link adolescent behaviours for example to the toddler years.
I myself am fast approaching 40 years old and am finding my desires to work less and do more regarding me and my needs. For instance I would like to buy a motorbike and go travelling for a year.
These desires are leading me to theories I would need backing up by you guys or help to disregard.
My desires right now for instance seem to happen most in that age group 17-25.
For me these things were not possible to have at that age.
So…can we link what is deemed as a ( male mid life crisis )as purely a period in life where these things were just not possible and got repressed untill a time where they become more possible. Now!!!!!
So maybe, just maybe a mid life crisis is not a crisis at all. But a perfectly acceptable catch up.

Regards