We have all seen the hairstyle creeping its way across the male heads of London. The one where the side of the head is shaved right up to the parting - it is the side-parting at its zenith, a side-parting-plus, if you will. I am certain there is a name for this ludicrous buzz cut (often, but not always, accompanied by the hipster beard). So prevalent has this style become that it is now the default cut at my regular barber.
Personally, I have never cared for fashion - like a sitcom patriarch I eschew the latest trends in favour of comfort. For me 'comfort' is faux-Edwardian elegance, shabby art-school and a hint of '60s Fellini. While I am happy with my sub-Doctor Who attire, I cannot seem to get my hair right. I have tried various styles over the years: in the '00s I sported the ubiquitous pointed quiff, this later morphed into the 'Mad Men' side-parting. This was of course some time after the look died in East London. Bereft of ideas, I retained this style until it too became staid and was duly given back of the middle-aged businessmen. Men of my generation now wear full beards but my corporate role has precluded such a rustic look. Boxed in by my profession, I am trapped with the hair of a middling Tory minister.
In my local barbers a line of businessmen sat flicking their phones as throbbing techno blasted from inadequate speakers. Mr Topper's in Soho famously offers haircuts for nine quid. Inevitably, the price is reflected in the horrendous ambience and dense crowds - moreover, they only offer one kind of haircut. Unsurprisingly, this has always been a 'short back and sides' - the only choice you are given is that of a square or blended 'neck'.
I sat in the chair and gave a polite hello smile. A young woman with several piercings threw the hair-cape over me.
"What are you having?" She asked, pumping the seat. She was Australian.
I asked for a trim before commencing the obligatory small talk. I had spoken to this hairdresser on many occasions. I always hoped that she would remember me so that we could have some form of ongoing discourse. Naturally, I was too unremarkable for that so on each visit we started anew.
"Beautiful day," she said, as she combed my hair.
It was bright yet unseasonably chilly.
"Yes, it sure is."
I knew what was coming next.
"Too nice to be stuck in an office on a day like this."
But of course, it is always deemed preferable to be outdoors. At the mere sight of sunshine we must all express a strong desire to be outdoors: to idle in rural surrounds and generally 'be' in nature. The pressure to conform with this view is unrelenting.
"I suppose you're right," I said.
She smiled and ran her fingers through my hair. Several silver bangles jangled as she watched her reflection. She was beautiful. I had been to festivals too, I thought, I knew good music and had even taken drugs. I wanted to tell her this, I was not just another office worker, I was a man of adventure and derring-do.
She said, "such a shame to waste the weather. Still, I suppose there's still time to go and sit in the park."
I pictured myself sitting on a park bench, opposite the winos in my rumpled suit and new haircut. And with that the spell was broken. The lovely hairdresser and I would never trip through the green fields in a Yeats style reverie, plucking the golden apples of the sun. Her suggestion was the most ludicrous thing I had heard all week.
"I suppose I could do that," I said. My presence among the swings would surely raise dark suspicions. "That sounds nice."
The hairdresser started shaving the side of my head, without warning she ran her clippers right up to my parting. Paralysed by disbelief, I sat mute as she mauled my barnet. After several minutes of savagery, my hair flopped over in a one-sided half-Mohican.
"What do you think?" She said.
I nodded. She held up a mirror and I approved the back of my head. I had unwittingly bought into London's latest hair fad - the stuff of sardonic creatives and middle-class hipsters. Nevertheless, the haircut had its merits, at least I would no longer struggle to 'find' my parting when combing my hair - the entire left side of my head was a parting, of sorts. The hairdresser stepped back to examine me. I was another widget on her conveyor belt of heads.
"Looking good," she said, dusting my face with a small brush, "now, you can get out into that park."
"Sounds good," I said, wiping my brow with a tissue, "I can't wait."