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MJA Dr Eric Dark Creative Writing Prize – A good hairdresser

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Highly commended

I took an immediate dislike to him when I met him 10 years ago. He had an irritating manner that annoyed me. He was middle-aged, short, solidly built with a swarthy complexion and carefully groomed dark hair greying at the temples. He rarely made eye contact and when he spoke his words seemed to slide out of the corner of his mouth.

He greeted his customers with a simple “Signor” and with a wave of his hand clasping his scissors indicated where to take a seat. Occasionally he would hail a passer-by on the street with a “Buongiorno!” and a wave of his scissors in the air. He rarely spoke otherwise. If he did it would be some caustic quip or grunt directed at the talkback radio show host on the loudly crackling radio in his small crowded shop. He showed little interest in his customers, preferring, it seemed, to stick to the job at hand or look out the window onto the street. Despite this lack of conversation and a lack of eye contact, his attitude seemed to me to indicate he was doing you a favour cutting your hair; take it or leave it, he didn’t give a damn.

His shop was across the road from the hospital where I had started a new busy job caring for critically ill children. Out of convenience I had him cut my hair on three or four occasions until, fed up with his manner, I found a hairdresser more to my liking.

For me it’s a very…