Some of my earliest memories are of me and Mum's salon visits. The year must have been about 1967 or 1968. It was a Salon called “Lishus”. I am only going by how it sounded. I am sure the spelling is wrong. This was the name of the ladies salon. The gents barbers was next door, probably owned by the same people. I got my hair cut in the gents, I must have been around 4 years old and I sat on a piece of wood placed across the arm rests of the barbers chair. After my haircut I was taken into the ladies to wait for my Mum.
Haircuts were rare as the main event was always my Mum who used to get a shampoo and set twice a week, every week, Tuesdays and Saturdays. Occasionally she had a perm which was always on a Saturday and that was a early start and took most of the morning. I knew when there was a perm as I used to get some treats. A bribe for my good behaviour ! My Mums sets were all the same to me but I knew when she had been permed as her hair was shorter and more curly than normal.
I just entertained myself on the waiting chair next to the coat stand. Mainly with a colouring book with coloured felt pens.
I paid little attention to what was going on in the salon and rarely saw my mum till she was ready to leave. All I remember was the shop and the continuous noise of women's chatter and hair dryers and that ladies salon smell which was a blend of most of the chemicals and sprays used there, plus cigarette smoke. Plus it was always warm in there, no matter what the weather was doing outside. All the staff were women, there were no males working in the ladies salon.
The inside of the shop was not visible from the outside at all. In the window was a wooden shelf on which were framed pictures of women, behind this was a white net curtain. The only thing that could be seen was whether the lights were on. The shop had a glass door through which was a reception desk on the right and 5 waiting chairs on the left with a large hat and coat stand at the end. Behind the reception desk was a long bank of six white domed hair dryers with cloudy visors and brown padded seats with arm rests. I vividly remember the seating as I sat one. The dryer high above was a daunting object, a bit scary and I did not do that again. The styling stations were double sided mirrors with a shelf and a chair on either side. There were four of these which they re arranged every now and then. There was a back part of the salon where the hair washing was done. I never went that far into the shop. My regular chair was the one next to the hat and coat stand with probably the best view of the shop and dryers. I don't remember much of my mum having her hair done as all the women were gowned identically and in their rods and rollers all looked pretty much the same to me. Plus they kept shuffling around and I was not interested enough to be bothered keeping track.
The shop was always busy. A lot of ladies coming in to make appointments, to wait to be called through for their hair do and women leaving with their short curls or big sets. I am trying to think of the age range of the clients and I just don't recall. The age of other people, when young, does not make a memorable impact. All I can say is that everyone was obviously older than me.
If I had to say where my interest in perms and sets started I would have to say it was because of the following event.
All seemed as usual, I sat in my chair and coloured away. Mum was having a shampoo and set, but I heard a new voice every now and then. It was a man's voice and even though I looked up, there seemed nothing unusual. A lady having a perm stood up from one of the styling chairs and came towards me, as she came closer I realised it was a man with a head full of small perm rods, (what I now know to be a traditional mow-hawk pattern) he came up to me and smiled asked what I was doing and put his hand on my head messing up my hair. He was gowned just like the ladies with a towel around his shoulders. He went into his coat pocket and took out some cigarettes and a ronson lighter. I knew what this was as my dad had one and walked back into the shop straight into the back room with the wash basins. For the first time I took some notice of what was going on. I did not see him for a while then the stylist came out of the wash room and behind her was this guy wearing a yellow cap on his head. She turned at the first dryer she came to and raised the visor, he sat back into the chair and arranged his gown. They talked and he looked up at her intensely. I will never forget the look on his face. Then she lowered the visor and walked away. He shuffled around in the chair and he sat further up into the dryer. I could not see his eyes, just from the middle of his nose down. He lit a cigarette and the stylist brought him a drink on a saucer. I was fixated with this and then I saw my mum come over, with hair all done and she packed things up to leave.
On the way home I remember asking if men get perms, she said “No” a very stern no.
Even today I can clearly remember seeing this guy under that dryer. I still wonder what his perm would have looked like.
Me and Mum went to this Salon until it closed. We then started going to Ian's hairdressing in the next street. The same routine but different shop with one change, I now had my hair cut with the ladies.
The old salon became an Estate agent and Lawyers, which it still is to this day.
I never saw another guy in there, not that I recall, but when all clients are gowned up the same who knows what I missed.
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