My whole family are descending on Auckland for a family wedding and it got me thinking about family folklore stories. So here it is.
My reluctant big sister was charged with taking me to Mr Pollock for a haircut. My curly hair was apparently straggly and in need of a chop. I cartwheeled along City Road in my corduroys and gumboots, sometimes flinging a boot right off into the air. We dawdled past old Ma Frew’s place half fearful, half excited that she might come out and berate us. Next were the posh people, no name just the ones in the flash house with their rhododendrons, the white stucco two storeys and their alien children who went to Columba College. We scooted past Granny Smith’s witchy cottage, who knew what she was brewing my gumboots squelching as we ran, my socks creeping right down over the heels as we scurried. We didn’t waste time either getting past the public stinky toilets. This place could be even worse if a man loitering there took us away to murder us.
Diane held my hand but I managed to slip the grip and balance myself along the fire station wall, waving to the firemen as they winked my way. We crossed the road and she squeezed my hand even tighter, turning the fingers white as she flicked her long straight black plaits importantly whooshing me safely across. Curls never made plaits as they escaped every time so there was no waiting in line to get my hair done in the mornings.
The smell of fresh bread from Laurenson’s bakery conjuring the pleasure and longing for white warm dough pulled from the middle of the fresh crusty loaf or a cream bun with a bright spot of red jam in the cream and a dusting of icing sugar. There was no stopping her though, the dairy was next with its shop window displaying the fat dead bodies of blowflies on the ledge and the faded cake tins, Queen Elizabeth on the lids a little pale and worse for wear. The butcher beside that, cool, tiled, and half a pound of mince for eight.
Finally we arrived, the red white and blue pole announcing the place, the strong smell of Brylcreem from Mr Pollock’s silver hair, a sharp pink line down the parting and slicked back thick and greasy in quite a dapper way. He pulled out the wooden plank, smooth from children’s bottoms, including the six Heggie kids, three boys and three girls, and bridged it across the two arms of the chair so I could see in the mirror. With a flourish he wrapped the black cape tightly around my neck and set to cutting. The curls fell to the floor like over-sized commas, as my sister sat and flicked though the magazines.
After snipping vigorously Mr Pollock pulled out the razor and buzzed it up the back of my neck, cold and raw against my skin, zizzing neatly up the sides. It didn’t take long, and soon I was lifted down with a, “There you are little boy off you go”.
You should have seen my sister’s face.