I walk down into the valley across the fields from Ossett there's a blue
sky sparsely dotted with the kind of small white cumulus clouds that Monet
would evoke with a few ragged brushstrokes. Gulls gather in a field below
my old school. The panorama from Woolley Edge to the foothills of the
Pennines sparkles in the warm September sun.
Barber's ShopThe excuse for my short walk is a visit to the hairdressers. I've got into the habit of calling at my mum's hairdressers. They don't do many beards there, but they make a good job of mine. I have to walk past a traditional barber's shop to get there but I'm not tempted to call in. As a schoolboy calling at the barbers in Queen Street after school meant half an hour's wait listening to a barber's shop conversation which, in my memory, was always about cricket, something way beyond my comprehension.
There were no hairstyles as such, just short back and sides. Even at that age I had a fascination for the visually diverse and the haircuts of the day seemed boring, uniform and conventional. Historical periods, anything but our own age, seemed to me to be much more visually exciting and the juvenile comic strip stories I wrote, recounting the epic films and the sword and sandal B-features I'd seen, are full of long-haired, bearded vikings and biblical characters.
When long hair became fashionable in the 1960s and I became an art student that was all the excuse I needed. I've had the beard ever since and I've shaved only a couple of times in my entire life. Unfortunately I can't manage the long hair these days!