Twenty one years since I last paid to get my hair cut, having this summer let the close crop grow out tatty, and under pressure to look at least half-decent at my stepson's wedding next weekend, I trawled the streets of Yeovil yesterday in search of a hair establishment I could feel comfortable in. Something in me just couldn't go unisex, I realised, having frozen at the door of a couple of girlish salons, and the paltry note in my pocket meant I wasn't going upmarket (even if I'd wanted to). So I was getting a little despairing by the time I reached the shabby end of Middle Street, when, like a shining prize beneath a rainbow, nestling between ethnic takeaways, I spied CHRISTOS GENTS HAIR STYLIST.
Twenty minutes later, having toured in conversation the West Of England, South and North Wales and Snowdonia, Christos, a white-haired Welsh customer and I, teasing out connections between us, I emerged blinking (with my specs still in my pocket) into the South Somerset industrial sun, Seven Pounds Fifty and a few well-chosen grammes of hair lighter.
During our chat, for the first time ever in a barbers I soon realised that at the moment of 'reveal', when the conversation turned to occupation, I would have to confess that this exiled Scouser was a Church of England vicar. Christos went a bit quiet after I'd shared that, but the affable South Walian revealed that he'd sung as an adult in church choirs in Cheshire, and sounded me out for the vacancy at his village parish church.
I left, with my neck itching, and sensing that this fellowship - the banter of fellows seeking common ground - was what I'd been missing all these years of DIY clipping.