John the Barber

7 May 2023

John has been my dad’s barber for long beyond 20 years. He still seems to be the same very young man he was when he set up solo, after working in the hairdresser shop we all used in our family.  

I phoned him the night before my dad’s last appointment. My dad had had a stroke a few hours earlier (mild we’re told) and he was being admitted to hospital, no way could the appointment be met. John was, as ever, polite and dignified, his words were thoughtfully placed and full of gentle concern.  

A couple of weeks later, my brother had his haircut and John said he’d be happy to visit my dad at home on the one day of the week his shop was closed. A gift of a man. Naturally, my dad would crawl over hot coals with two broken legs before he’d let that happen! So he used every ounce of energy he could make and I drove him to the barber’s door, a couple of weeks after he was let out of hospital.  

I didn’t help him in the car, I didn’t close the door for him, I didn’t open the door at the other end and I didn’t chum him in.

These are all the things I wanted to do.

These are all the things he’d do for me.

But I knew that to make it as normal as I could for him, I had to allow him complete freedom in a time when nothing much is his own choice. 

In our mental health battles, we can often feel that we have little choice, little control, little option against the sucker of energy and the beater of brows, but in fact we have all of that.  

When we are down, aim not high, but aim sideways. Say yes to as much as you are able and say it loud and proud. These are our building blocks after the wall has wobbled over.  

My dad is low. But he has a haircut and other wayward hairs have been tamed. John gave him more than that, he gave him the gift of normality and that is what we all need a slice of when times are tough. I wish you exactly that today.  

Love from 

The room above the garage 

A Moodscope member

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