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I always like the soothing feeling of getting the hair cut. The thrum of the electric clippers, KFM playing softly in the background, Voiletta running her fingers through my hair, tilting my head back, spraying my hair with water, trimming the vagrant ear hair and subduing the unruly eye-brows and I especially like the brief scalp massage as she gently rubs in the Bay Rum at the end.

There were four ahead of me on this damp Tuesday morning, two were pensioners both ordering traditional short backs and sides and both refusing the eyebrow trimming, the Bay Rum massage and the wax. The other two were younger and seemed to know each other and chatted quietly in foreign guttural tones in the corner. The main attraction was the €6.50 price tag on Mondays and Tuesdays – nearly thirty percent reduction on normal days. Flicking through the Mirror and the Sun, I finally settled for the Leinster Leader and unobtrusively watched Violetta - the curve of her hip as she stretched for the hairbrush then clipped and trimmed and kept up a bit of chatter with each customer - a true professional. I heard the names Magda, and Mia mentioned. Do all Polish women’s names end in “a” I thought…Agnieska, Mia, Magda, Magdalena. Must ask her.

No new customers come in as the rain drummed heavily against the window. Kris Kristofferson singing Help Me Make It Through the Night on the radio. The younger men looked for different cuts, severely shaven to the scalp high up above their ears on each side. They spoke amiably in their own language, smiling and laughing with each other and Violetta now and then. I drifted back to events of that morning.

Herself had been on one of her missions over the weekend. The big clean out. Everything taken out of the wardrobes and washed. Tee shirts that I had never worn, trousers that had not been worn since the last time they were washed and ironed and sheets and pillow slips from the spare bedroom that hadn’t been used even once. Nothing was safe. You couldn’t reason with her when she was on one of these crusades, as I knew to my cost. But I’m used to that now, I know to keep a low profile.

This morning she said I needed to throw out several pairs of my trousers because the legs were too wide at the bottom. Yea, legs too wide at the bottom. Can you believe it? Perfectly good chinos from Dunnes Stores– 2 pairs of them one navy and a light cream pair for summer use. Hardly worn and she wants me to throw them out. Said I have too many clothes and that I hardly wear any of them apart from the Wranglers and the fleece. And that they’re so old fashioned. So what? I’m old and I know I’m old fashioned I told her. Old people are supposed to be old fashioned. Stay calm she says. Stay calm and her in one of her relentless crusades, not possible. That’s why I came here to Gentle Cuts.

Finally, it’s my turn. Voiletta smiles that smile of hers. I sit in the barber’s chair as she sweeps up the previous customer’s hair. I watch her in the mirror as she stoops with the dust pan and her skirt rides up.

“You’re back,” she says as she stands up and discards the dust pan. “What can I do for you today?”

“The usual Voiletta. Number 4 blade back and sides and take a bit off the top, not too much.”

“You want me cut your hair again? It’s no problema. But I cut you only last week. You want again?”

I close my eyes and nod. She turns on the clippers and tranquillity finally sets in.

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