We live in a world of magic, where flimsy old Leicester City can win the Premiership and a black Freemason can become President of the USA. In this heady atmosphere, with the sky the limit and no dream too wild, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be a mobile hairdresser. To this end, I have been reborn as the Bicycle Barber, a reference to my mode of transport, and have already amassed a plucky client list of six people, one of whom is very elderly and expects to be dead by Christmas. It’s a modest start but, despite people misreading my business cards as ‘The Bisexual Barber’ more times than you might think, I have my hustle decidedly on. Elsewhere, I am considering a weekend barbering pitch at Greenwich Market, thereby laying the foundation for an unexpected return to London and a collective raising of eyebrows which, come to think of it, I can trim as part of a wider grooming service. Closer to my adoptive East Anglian home, I am sizing up the more traditional rural markets, and am tempted to combine hair cutting and key cutting under the tag line ‘How different can it be?’ for a larf. These are giddy times.
This quest for clientele has also seen me approach various local funeral directors, offering to tidy the hair of the deceased. I’d only want the natural causes people and not the accidenty ones, obviously, and wouldn’t find it disconcerting because although I believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in zombies. I think it would be a peaceful, dignified service to provide and not, as ‘Anton’ insisted while we waterproofed the derelict pigeon loft in the West Field last week, an opportunity to ‘Savile them up*’, and sundry other observations with which I will not trouble you. Admittedly, there would be a temptation to give anyone with My Way as their funeral song a bad haircut for presumably being awful when they were alive, but otherwise I was quite taken with the idea. Being the Bicycle Barber involves, reasonably enough, a lot of cycling, during which you have to think about something to pass the time. Clattering towards Bergh Apton last week, I even formulated the fictitious daily banter between me and an equally fictitious funeral director, probably called Martin, as I expect that’s the kind of name a funeral director would have. ‘Did he like his haircut?’ he would ask as I packed away my clippers and combs, and I’d say ‘Well, there were no complaints!’ and we’d have a little chuckle like we always do and I’d put my coat on and prepare to leave. ‘See you tomorrow, then!’ he’d then say as I left, ‘one way…’ then nod towards the mortuary’ ‘… or the other!’ We’d have another chuckle, and I’d go home, perhaps after saying ‘Not if I see you first!’ or something similar. It would be such a gentle, urbane place to work if it didn’t only exist in my mind. Meanwhile, in the relentless world of reality, my ever-loyal old dear has done her best to drum up support by introducing me to her Women’s Institute friends with ‘This is my son, Paul. He’s a barber, but he isn’t very good yet’.
The West Field pigeon loft, incidentally, was due for demolition when we thought the Estate was to be awash with Lottery money. Now it is to be awash with our own money, which we don’t have, it is instead more prudent to shore everything up and see what can be salvaged. Lime washing the stonework is important, because once Joe slaps a temporary roof on, the structure will essentially be sealed for assessment later in the year. The West Field Itself would be a nice place for events, and that is the general plan for it, but I think Runton is simply too remote for anything to really pay out. The easy answer would be to open it up for more glamping, but then we have the problem of what to do with perhaps four hundred glampers all day, as discussed in various earlier posts. Then again, we have local funksters Saturday Night Feverishness booked for a wedding at Runton in August (for which the Old Servant’s Quarters will serve as venue for the happy couple’s first night of bliss) and Joe would’ve booked the Style Councillors too, if they weren’t a Style Council tribute act. Entering the spirit of things, I contacted Austrian Beatlemaniacs the Mona Lisa Twins, to see if they are planning to visit East Anglia any time soon and if they might like to pop in. They are white girls with guitars who do cover versions, enough to set alarm bells ringing in the ears of music lovers, but a sure-fire winner with middle class glampers, who love that sort of thing. Well, that and Beyonce, but we can’t afford her. I saw the Mona Lisa Twins at the only Beatles convention I’ve ever been to, despite my obsession with the Fabulous Mop Tops. It was an enjoyable experience, and among the vendors and dealers and tribute acts I was struck by how many people were wandering around in full impersonation of one or other Beatle, by how much attention they each got, and by how much anyone dressed as Yoko was completely ignored.
Despite the attentions of Graham’s two youngest children, who circled us on their bikes as we worked, their unbroken voices offering encouragement such as ‘You’re fucked now!’ and ‘Fuck off back to Cockney Land’ in reference to our non-Lottery grant financial status, it was good to be putting a shift in at a busy Runton. The East Field, currently the only place where glampers can glamp, is booked solid and the residents are well behaved, good humoured and middle class, despite Britain’s imminent leaving of the European Union, about which they obviously remain panic stricken. Ah well. Perhaps the best thing about being at Runton these days is returning home to Nid, now seventeen months old, who literally dances with delight when he sees me. As you can probably imagine, it is a long time since anyone has done that.
*Note for foreigners: Jimmy Savile was a famous British light entertainer and charity fundraiser, whose other activities included sex with corpses, the mentally ill, and children.
Main: Look at this enormous bastard. He later ate all those sheep.
Inset top: There fourteen thousand seven hundred and nine annoying things about living in the countryside, and two of them are that you have to wear Wellingtons (I refuse to say ‘wellies’, as it would feel like I’ve surrendered) fifty weeks of the year, and that the milkman never bothers to take the empties, despite being in a Land Rover.
Inset middle: Tree house hangout of Joe and Becka’s twenty eight children.
Inset lower: Small path between a load of saplings, which are a special type of bendy tree.