A really close shave

I hate having to shave every day.

Growing a beard for me is not really an option. I don’t like them, in any case mine would be mostly grey by now I’m sure and it would be bound to itch in the shirt and tie I wear to work.

As an aside I remember I looked ridiculous when I grew once years ago whilst in the Royal Navy years and shaved it off pretty smartly to the approval of the Coxswain who also thought it looked ridiculous. It obviously wasn’t nearly Jack Tar and Hearts of Oak enough for his view of what a sailor’s beard or ‘full set’ in naval parlance should look like.

I believe I would still look ridiculous and in any case I would hate to be confused, however unlikely, with some kind of London Shoreditch/Hoxton/Hackney/Dalston determinedly non-conformist hipster as I do get up there often enough but don’t want to get taken for a local.

The trick to looking like a non-conformist up there seems to be for every chap to grow an identical bushy beard with some ridiculously shaped and waxed moustache and to wear a faux lumberjack shirt. Non-conformity appears to have moved a long way towards conformity but I’ll save that thought for another day perhaps.

Back to hating shaving. Did I mention that?

I hate having to do it every day. You get out of a warm shower and in between the fairly quick toothbrush and deodorant rituals is the slow you right down again shave. You can skip flossing every now and again and people don’t notice but they always can if you skip a days shaving.

All done with an ever more expensive and ludicrously priced razor set it just annoys the hell out of me. Everything about it.

The blade cartridges cost a fortune. Every month or so the major companies who seem to be in some kind of shaving arms race add yet another blade (now up to a five at the last count), swivel thingymabob, entirely pointless battery operated vibration and/or edge trimmer whilst the actual blades just get crappier and crappier. And crappier and crappier.

Good for six weeks my arse!

I’ve probably got pretty average beard hair thickness but I get five days maximum before the bloody ‘precision engineered’ blades start shredding my chin.

All this from the supposed market leaders. A plague on all their houses!

I can’t stand electric razors either. Call me fussy but they don’t really seem to live up to their slick ‘lift and cut’ close shave TV advertising either. They might not shred you but they don’t trim that well either.

However, that is not to say that there is not the occasional treat in a close shave.

The trick to enjoying a close shave, at least in my experience, is to find someone to do it for you.

A skilled artisan who will take time and pride in what he does.

Not every day but every now and then. Setting time aside to visit a traditional barber to have a shave along with a haircut is a small investment in time and money terms that is actually quite worthwhile.

Take a few minutes to yourself and enjoy a bit of meaningless banter with a true craftsman.

The ritual and results are just so far superior to the daily slog with the brand leader razor and the other brand leader cooling/moisturising/for sensitive skin/energising/invigorating/age defying shaving gel.

It starts with being tipped comfortably back in the chair to a forty-five degree angle followed by some bloody astringent smelling faintly of lemon which I have worked out is meant to sting so much you don’t then mind being shaved twice in one sitting.

A just bearably hot towel wrapped around the while face next and a minute or so to reflect on life before having the towel removed and receiving a thick, sudsy lathering with a badger hair brush. Twice.

The skilled barber then takes a huge amount of time and care getting rid of the unwanted facial hair. Gently and expertly with a straight blade* or ‘cut-throat’ he delivers the shave the TV ads and five blades promise but never, even on new blade day, deliver.

He then does it all over again. No matter how many people are now in the waiting chairs flicking through last months magazine selection.

Back to the stinging concoction, another hot towel and finally a bit of cooling moisturiser.

If your chosen barber is Turkish, which they are near me, they will also take great delight in whacking your ears with a giant flaming cotton bud to get rid of stray unwanted hairs.

They will also set about cracking your knuckles whether you want them to or not. I don’t particularly but have become used to it as part of the ritual and don’t hold it against them.

You leave some time after you went in feeling smooth, buffed, polished and completely relaxed ready to take on the day.

As someone who hates shaving I heartily recommend it.

*(The traditional cut-throat now often sports a disposable blade used only once to cater for modern hygiene standards).


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