How a visit to the barber’s can beat the busyness disease
‘Busy weekend?’ asks your colleague on Monday morning. Before you’ve time to respond he launches into a detailed recap of his own lunatic schedule.
You, who went at a slower pace, immediately feel somehow inferior. It’s madness: the time is money mentality taints our relaxation with guilt. Busyness today is a status symbol.
Our obsession with busyness (perceived or otherwise) is perplexing, considering it’s effect on our wellbeing can be drastic. We’re torn between work, family and the constant pressure to achieve. The result? Stress. Illness even.
Opportunities to take time out and reclaim our lives from the cult of busyness are more important than ever. That men recognise this is demonstrated by the rise of the high-quality barber.
Men have sought sanctuary at the barber’s since time immemorial. In Ancient Greece, men had their long hair and beards (the trend at the time) groomed at tonstina while they discussed current affairs and sport (chariot races and gladiatorial contests presumably, rather than City vs. United: same shit, different millennium).
Something for the weekend?
Fast forward to the 1970s and the fashion for men to wear their hair long (again) put many traditional barbers who couldn’t adapt out of business. The explosion in the number of unisex salons in the 80s and 90s was a direct result of this.
The recent trend is for barber shops that offer a premium experience, rather than a sub £10 shearing, but do it without the stuffiness common at the waistcoats and aprons establishments of yesteryear.
The customers at the best barbers in London, it seems, want smart cuts in a comfortable but unfussy environment. They expect great service, not to have their boots licked.
At Huckle the Barber, for example, all barbers have previously worked as hairdressers in salons, where customer service is a priority. It’s a distinctly male version of pampering. Hot face towels replace hair straighteners, whiskies and wet shaves are preferred to manicures.
Some men like to have their hair cut in silence and that’s fine. But many blokes relish relaxed, intelligent chats in the club-like atmosphere of a barber shop; less competitive than pub banter, a far cry from the oneupmanship of office politics.
For some it goes further. The trust you build with he who wields weaponry near your brain box can lead to friendship. There are men who'll go out of their way to visit their favourite barber.
The rise of the high-end barber is a good thing. It means men, notoriously bad at looking after themselves, are more aware of the need to slow down. The monthly grooming ritual is a pleasure to be lingered over rather than a chore.
Do yourself a favour. Take a break from scything through emails, step inside a first-rate barber shop, enjoy a beer and a blather, and emerge a sharper, calmer version of yourself.