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.


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31 thoughts on “Torn…

  1. Shaina Davis says:

    Very nice article. I do believe that small businesses have been hit so hard recently. I live in New York, and the amount of “up for rent” signs I see in storefronts is honestly depressing. Praying that a safe vaccine comes quickly so we can all be done with this horror.

    • Rach W says:

      Bless you chap! Us wee businesses are grateful for every last bit of support – thankfully I’m mainly online but I know plenty of m’colleagues have had the most stressful time they could possibly imagine, so every bit of encouragement helps. Check out the campaign if you’re not already aware of it – there was a big push pre-pandemic to get people on this train, including indie bookshops – I’m sure your backing would mean heaps! Keep on keeping on

      • Ana Karla Brazil says:

        I think the paddy cut it, in fact my mom thinks, she realized that there are some mistakes in the cut, mistakes a professional would not let. am I right?

    • A.T.M says:

      Very nice article. You’re one of the best families on earth. Good thoughts, good words, and deeds is what we should all want to do.

    • Ginevra says:

      Yeah, that video of Tom cutting Harry’s hair was fun as well 🙂 And it looked quite good ! I guess the Hollands have a certain knowledge in hairstyling too. Is there anything you guys can’t do ? A family of many talents as I said before

  2. Eva Bower says:

    My guess is Paddy did another trim. If so, he did a splendid job. I have been trimming my mother’s hair during lockdown here in Michigan, and can testify that skill comes with practice and time.

  3. Hannah croshaw says:

    Thank you for this blog Dom !! You really have been a great motivation to do something on a sunday when you post blogs. I completely agree that there really is something different about the high street. Although what really made me smile is your story about paddy and yourself in lockdown ! As this was my given role in lockdown and i can’t say my dad was overly exsited for it, i cut his hair once like i thought i had seen barbers do but he wasn’t best pleased when he saw all the paches as the bottom of his head. As soon as it was announced that barbers would be open he looked more happy than if i had told him he had one the lottery so i don’t think i will be given that role again. I also started reading your book the fruit bowl very slowly and i read through the first few chapters whilst out with my parents and i was a mess. I sertainly got a few double looks but it really did play with my emotions? It’s so well written and i’m so proud of you, thank you. Sorry for any typos at all really bad dyslexia so i know it will be hard to read for you

  4. Lyndsay says:

    As a hairstylist, I love that Paddy is enjoying cutting your hair! As a small business owner, don’t forget about your barber. Maybe they can take turns? PS-if Paddy did your latest cut, he’s doing good!

  5. Sydnee Coleman says:

    A beautiful blog Mr. H, and I’m guessing Paddy cut your hair. Your local barber probably has other people that come in to get there hair cut by his scissors but your son only has you and he seems to love doing it, so much to the fact to stop playing x box. Lol I can relate with him. My father never had a barber, he cuts his own hair and when my brother came of age, he cuts his hair as I check to make sure they didn’t miss a spot. Sometimes I just cut both of their hair. Now my sisters and I are all different. I’m eldest sister grows hers out in the winter and chops it at the shoulders to donate in the summer every year. My second eldest sister is a cosmetologist, so we all know how that goes. Lol My youngest sister and I both have long hair, really long hair and when the time comes of the year I give us both a trim. It easier and cheaper, and I don’t have to wait for the next available appointment. But that is just my family and I still think you let Paddy go at it, on your cranium.

  6. Tammy says:

    Greetings from across the pond and across America. (California) I’m going to guess you let Paddy do your “do” once more. Over here, our shops have closed up for the second time, but with a twist. They can perform their services, but only outside. Strange times we are living in. Stay safe!

  7. Jess says:

    My dad needed a trim during lockdown, and I suggested to cut it. I had cut my own and my sister’s hair whilst in lockdown and I had done an acceptable job. Both of us had long hair (shoulder-length now) and it was pretty easy. But my dad wasn’t satisfied and decided to wait until the barber’s was open. Which he did.
    I am the youngest and I feel everyone is pretty distrusting of me when I’m holding clippers near their heads.

    I think you had it trimmed at the barber’s. If you had Paddy trim it, I must say he did a good job

  8. Taylor Rose says:

    I was *just* watching an episode of Dirty Money, where a lawyer tricked an elderly man into signing over power of attorney, and the poor man lost absolutely everything, including his childhood home. So very sad. It’s a profession that necessitates a strong moral compass, and I have to say I’m seeing less and less examples of that as of late. I appreciate your shedding light on the subject. Also, I really enjoy your writing style!

  9. Emily F says:

    This one had me laughing, during lockdown my mother had a go at my fathers hair and ended up looking like crevice from fantastic beast, love your work and about to read the fruit bowl since it was just delivered!

  10. Emily says:

    This one had me laughing, during lockdown my mother had a go at my fathers hair and ended up looking like crevice from fantastic beast, love your work and about to read the fruit bowl since it was just delivered!

  11. Emily says:

    This one had me laughing, during lockdown my mother had a go at my fathers hair and ended up looking like crevice from fantastic beast. Really enjoyed this one!

  12. Sivan says:

    Wow this is a really great blog! Thank you very much for giving me a different perspective on how things are on the other side of the Atlantic. Although Chicago and London are very far apart, we too are in similar situations. Me being 16 I have had to learn how to cut hair for my family. Some times this whole situation sucks, but weirdly it’s nice to see that people all over the world are going through the same thing. Somehow it gives hope for everyone.

  13. A.T.M says:

    Very nice article. You’re one of the best and kindest families on earth. Good thoughts, good words and good deeds is what we should all aspire to. ☮️❤️

  14. Beth says:

    My guess- Paddy (the sides look a little shorter but that could also be the light). When you think about it, you wouldn’t be the only customer and how often did you get a haircut? If it wasn’t all too often it wouldn’t be effecting them heavily.
    Speaking of hair- at least you have someone to maintain it. My brother Harry has decided that, because he hasn’t had a haircut in almost 12mts, a mullet seems the perfect idea!
    Glad you are getting back to the norm

  15. Márcia Malaquias says:

    The hair was great, Paddy is Congratulations on the hair and for helping you in choosing the looks for your presentations, funny that Mrs. Nikki who knows the right time and when to cut The Woman Power in a man’s life

    God Bless the Family ♥️

  16. Regina says:

    I felt so many emotions while reading this post: jealousy that the UK has so many local stores/venders/shops (unless you live in a small town, it’s hard finding anything that isn’t a franchise in the US); amusement at the idea of your son trimming your hair; concern for all the people who lost so much during this time; finally, torn (what an apt title) because I didn’t want Paddy or Carlo to be disappointed. Maybe you divided the clipping between them?

  17. M. says:

    …based on what I think I know about you…I think it is a trick question! I don’t think your barber or Paddy cut your hair. I think you just leaned over your bathroom sink and cut it off yourself!
    By the way, I try to shop small businesses as much as possible. I think it was so unfair that big corporations got to stay open and small businesses got crushed. Alcohol and weed shops were deemed essential and churches, hair salons, and gyms, etc. were deemed non-essential. So much government corruption going on that I was never aware of before.

  18. Victoria says:

    I believe Paddy cut your hair this time. But I think you’ll go to the barber next time. It’s good that you have trust in Paddy. My dad won’t let me cut his hair .

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