The day you felt you’d become a man (certainly in the rituals in place in south London in the ‘60s) would be the time you no longer need the bench to sit on at the barbers. In effect, you’d only started to enter adolescence and the well-thumbed copies of Parade, Reveille and Health & Efficiency, almost overnight, became more interesting than the Beano or Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly.
The time you did, at least in the barber’s eyes, become a man, was when your mum no longer took you. Although in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, with so many people opting for longer hair (I blame Chicory Tip), I’m surprised anyone went to the barbers, unless they needed something for the weekend and knew too many people working in their local Boot’s.
I can remember sitting for ages in my Balham barber’s knowing, when accompanied by my mum, that the magazines could have been housed in Fort Knox, such was the chance of me touching one, let alone opening one.
You would wait patiently looking around the shop at photos of hairstyles you could have (although many of the photos were quite old, so if you wanted to look like Clement Attlee, this was the place to go). There were also many displays of , some magic stick which stopped you bleeding after shaving and combs. Things for the weekend were not in sight. When you hadn’t yet entered puberty (some days I think I’m still waiting) things for the weekend were footballs, Jimmy Clitheroe and roast beef; this might explain why I have fourteen children.