The haircut- a true story

My whole family are descending on Auckland for a family wedding and it got me thinking about family folklore stories. So here it is.

The Haircut

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.


Home sick at 60

A friend who is an art therapist gave me a small tag the other day which reads, “It is at 60 that you realise the moments are everything.”

60 is a funny age, it is where you can be described as an elderly person if you are in the paper. “An elderly woman (60) was run down by a rogue elephant this morning…”, that kind of thing.

It’s also the age where if you can’t please everyone you get to please yourself. My house is nearly finished and I’m going to put this slightly mad mural as a headboard above my bed. And I don’t have to compromise or ask anyone else.

It has been around in my photo album for a couple of years now and I just decided, to hell with it, if I want a bunch of unearthly cherubs above my head when I sleep at night I will. And if I get sick of it I’ll tear it down again.

My friend explained to me that Erikson calls the over 60 age the last phase of human development and labels it generativity.

We can choose  either:

Integrity or Despair

to connect with others  or to isolate from others

to be honest and authentic  or to have blocks of depression

to be complete and feel whole or to have no hope

to have the ability to empathise, be in tune and to resonate with others or become solitary

Over the years I’ve longed for the country idyll because of the wild freedom as a child at our crib on the Otago Peninsula. We got up when we were awake, ate when we were hungry and went to bed when we were tired. We ate mushrooms, blackberry pie, blue cod, cockles in vinegar,crayfish legs (I only liked the legs).. We carved heavy seaweed balls and threw them hard at the weak. We cooked chips on the beach in baking soda tins filled with fat on any old tin tray we could fashion from what was around us. After a smoke-filled fire lighting session and some half cold, semi-baked chips covered in sand we would declare them delicious. No-one supervised us and the survival of the fitness ruled. Our days were measured by the state of the tide.There was no bathroom, just an old enamel bowl for a spit wash every few days. We used the longdrop and wiped our bums with old sewing pattern tissue.

Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls- my mother was an expert tailor and made all our clothes as did most mothers.

I see today enamel has become trendy and I’m in there buying it with the best of Ponsonby.

Traditional Pie Dish Oblong
imagine my mother thinking this was a trendy purchase. I remember making Welsh Rarebit at cooking class at school in one of these. I’m still not sure what it is, it was thick and gloopy and made with onion and flour. I can’t see it making the My Food Bag list any time soon.
“Our” beach, with Johnny Walker’s in the background. I haven’t thought about that house in years but how quickly that name sprang into my consciousness.

I’ve always become homesick, carted back home in a quilt as soon as I’m in another house, another bed, and to this day I love my own bed, my stuff and really don’t enjoy being away for too long. The picture above makes me homesick all over again. How tempting it is to build a triple-glazed black box at Otakou and just sit and watch the tide come in and out, walk the beach, string shells and pick up driftwood, light a fire and stare into it, ask the fisherman at the wharf for a share of the catch and note how huge the boats are as they go up the channel into Dunedin harbour.  And how much surplus cash I’d have if I left Auckland!

So most of the time I want the things on the left column but some of the time I want isolation, solitariness, and yet still be authentic and honest. Having to work for financial reasons has pulled me back into the world. I have slipped into some bad habits of spending on a lot of stuff for the house. I don’t know how it will be when I move next week. Apparently the house will be ready, but this is a photo from today.

Hard to believe I will be living there from next Wednesday.

While I threw out a lot of clothes and books and miscellaneous things when I packed up the old house I didn’t cut down on paintings. All my houses always look the same because of this but I think I should try to declutter even those. After all, we baby boomers think we will live forever and don’t think what mountains of stuff we are burdening our children with. Sam is an only child, how would he make sense out of the flotsam of my old world?

It is hard for me to reject the trappings, not get caught up in stuff, the need to socialise, but it’s always there,  the desire to run away home.

House for sale in Hobsonville? ? The one below would do me fine and all for the princely sum of $79,500

Location: 6 Tamatea Road
Rooms: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
Property type: House
Price: Asking price $79,500
Enjoy the delights of Otago Peninsula from this compact modernish crib of 1 & 1/2 bedrooms.
Great sun and views.
Lease to Te One Wiwi $920 per year.
DCC & ORC Rates under $500

Agency reference #: 10713963


I’ll see you around, probably with stylish linen sheets, enamel colanders and good china  but behind my back could be that hard, wet, smelly seaweed ball ready to chuck when the moment’s right. FG