I am conflicted of late...
As our hapless politicians urge us to get spending again and eating in restaurants in order to save the economy and one another’s livelihoods.
Naturally I am disposed to supporting local businesses as I have written about on this blog already. We have a local butcher, a fish monger, a veg shop owner and a wine merchant, all of whom I know by name. And if there was a candle stick maker locally...
An irony then that I also implore people to come to my books via an outfit called Amazon, who you may have heard of.
A website that is now so famous, I expect that younger people might wonder if the Brazilian rain forest/jungle is named after the on-line retail goliath.
Amazon began selling books (I think) and it now sells everything. It has become the world’s shop and is presided over by the world’s richest man. His ex-wife, instantly became the world’s richest woman with her divorce settlement. A bitter/sweet moment then? Just imagine the glee of the lawyers picking over these marital bones and currently in London, Jonny Depp and Amber Herd are tearing themselves apart in public and chaperoned by their lawyers. The law is a vaunted profession. A vital provision of course for any civilised society but one that is so often mired in hurt and misery. And I wonder if the huge sums of legal profit which can be derived from people’s (clients) pain might be a conflict for the lawyers filling their boots. I suspect not.
With the economy in mind and my being called to spend; I have long been in need of a new digital radio and I was determined to buy it from my local branch of John Lewis, which here in the UK, is everyone’s favourite department store.
I drove my car to the shops, using some fuel (and electricity) in the process. I supported my local council by paying to park my car and en-route I even bought a coffee because it felt like the right thing to do.
In the shop (John Lewis) I got recognised (this trip pre-dated face-masks being mandatory) and we chatted about life at a socially responsible distance. This was probably more exciting for them than it was for me but after months of lockdown I was happy to stop.
And my thrust being that none of these things would have happened if I’d stayed at home and bought my radio with a click.
So a small win for the retailer. And for me because I can feel good about myself and for the couple who now have a photo of themselves with a middle aged balding comedian.
Regarding the plight of shops or brick & mortar stores as they are called in the States, a number of clichés spring to mind.
Fighting a losing battle.
Flogging a dead horse.
Pissing in the wind.
Can’t stop the tide coming in…
But still I feel that defending the high street is an important battle and yet, it seems that my noble stance might not extend to the professionals who cut hair for a living.
I generalise here but Barbers are for men and Hair Dressers or Hair Stylists are for women. The former are cheap and don’t need to be booked. The latter require an appointment, can take longer than a lung transplant and sometimes are only marginally cheaper.
They have all been CLOSED during lockdown which I imagine has caused varying degrees of stress and loss.
For me, not so much. Nothing in fact.
As my hair retreats and thins, my days of styling are long gone; proven by the fact that in lockdown, Paddy Holland has assumed responsibility for keeping me presentable for my various videos (none of which have gone viral, damn it).
This has been a good thing for us both. A bit of father/son bonding during these awkward coming of age years. A fair degree of responsibility for Paddy and trust on my part. Not to mention the very welcome money saving and more on this later.
And good also for Paddy to learn something during lockdown when his school has been almost completely shut.
Nothing so technical or so discerning as scissors are required for a head like mine. Just a good going over with a set of agricultural clippers. And Paddy took to it with relish. He enjoyed it so much, he even started pestering me and suggesting further trims and before time.
As much a factor in this as his impatience (and my slow growth) is the fact that Nikki and Sam are not so trusting and have not let him anywhere near their heads.
Since March, I calculate that Paddy has experimented on my cranium at least three times. So, at say £15 a time (including tip), this means that I am £45 up – which is the going rate for a zoom comedy club gig these days which so far I have managed to avoid.
But this means that my local barber is down by the same amount and how does this sit with my conscience of patronising local businesses. My barber is also someone I know by name. Carlo is an Italian, married to a Hong Kong Chinese lady living in the world city that is London – and he is now open with his scissors/clippers at the ready.
The answer came just this week.
Speaking to Nikki on FaceTime – she announced that it was time for her husband to be trimmed and which Patrick picked up on immediately. Dashing from his X Box for the clippers…
Do I make my barbers’ day or my youngest son’s?
A difficult choice. Impossible even...
I won’t reveal which way I erred. You can decide for yourselves, based on my haircut and what you think you know about me.
Comments/guesses welcome below.