Banburyshire Family History

A site designed for you to share your family history with others from the Banbury area

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Muriel Wells

Curiously peering through the front windows of the barber's shop to watch as the occupant of the chair had a cape pinned securely, and the "shearing" began! Of course you daredn't stare outright, and pretended to be viewing the cigarette rollers, cigarette cases, leather purses, (yes men did have "tray" purses), leather wallets, pens, filters, cigars and pens that were arranged in the window. Those waiting read the racing results, or similar papers or chatted as they puffed on a cigarette. It was the workingman's equivalent of the London clubs frequented by the affluent!

I was amused to see elderly men front up for a haircut, as they hadn't much in the way of thinning locks to shed. Short, back and sides was the usual order. And those being shaved revelled in the luxury of being cossetted and primped.

Army haircuts were pretty severe, and some, like my brother who did his National Service in North Africa and Cyprus in the mid 50s, had a version of the crew cut for comfort. I have a photograph of him on his discharge, when it was growing out, and it stuck up vertically, with no lotions or gunk!

On my arrival in New Zealand in 1960, I was to find that the short back and sides was taken very literally and the menfolk were nearly scalped! They began to look human again just when it was time to revisit the barber. Similarly I found most things rather quaint and old fashioned, compared to England --- clothing styles, vehicles and attitudes. It took some time with increasing exposure to the media, before the discrepancy was less noticeable.

But the town I now live in, was at that time a dear little colonial outpost. I was, and am, very fond of it, but I sorrow for the loss of some of its character, as it modernises to catch up with the larger centres. It is in danger of losing something precious in its bid for modernisation --- and could just as well end up like any city suburb.

Yes, brylcream and brilliantine, and a handlebar moustache, worn by our dashing fighter pilots are wartime memories. They were the elite --- and they knew it!

Looking in the supermarket the other day for something to revive my fading perm, I was out of luck. I was amused to notice Clay, Glue, Mud as well as the gels, mousses and sprays to shape, mould and tame the hair, or straighten it and add sleekness! What would the grandparents have made of these?

But a glance along the High Street nowadays will see young male peacocks sporting weird and wonderful coloured and streaked hairstyles. Some may have artistically shaved heads, whilst others have flowing and untamed locks. They quite outdo the fairer sex!

I will close now before I raise the ire of some younger and trendier listers! The world can be an amusing place, and I confess to enjoying the present, and recalling the past!.

" Thanks for the memories".


You may also enjoy reading "The Empire was built on standards" and "The Military Haircut".

Written by Muriel Wells