Alphonso had been a ladies hairdresser for a long time now; his early career as a male model for the London Fashion Houses had come to an abrupt end when he hit the grand old age of 30.
He had won prestigious Hair awards, had film star clients and been featured in all the hair magazines in his heyday; now he was getting tired and suffered with varicose veins, he longed to retire to Morocco with his long time companion Raymond.
The busy High Street Salon was gradually less so, with a drop in regular weekly appointments hitting the profits and his retirement fund in a worrying way. Alphonso didn’t like to admit that his business was getting a bit dated – just like his signature hair style.
So dated, he totally missed the swinging sixties altogether!
He adored the glamour of the fifties and occasionally exulted himself with a full swirl for those extra special occasions, with lashings of hair lacquer.
Ladies would come in asking for the Pixie Cut, the asymmetrical Bob or a Jean Shrimpton – but they all left with a Doris Day and copious amounts of hairspray.
Eventually Alphonso had to bite the bullet and placed an advert in his window reading:
‘Apprentice Wanted – must be prompt, polite and willing to learn – Apply within’
This notice immediately caught the keen eye of an eager young man, he started work the following Monday.
His name was Ken.
Ken was a fast learner, the ladies loved his gentle ways and he idolised Alphonso, following his every word, like a father figure.
Things couldn’t have gone better and all was harmonious in the Salon.
It didn’t take long before Ken’s appointment book was getting so full they had to turn customers away, his regulars were spreading the word.
Ken was a natural, he snipped and shaped, couffered and curled; as well as being very handsome and charismatic, of course he was instantly popular.
Ken just loved hearing all about the ladies holidays in Morecambe, St. Ives and Clackmannonshire; he even learnt a few dark secrets and juicy stories; the goings on at No. 69 were regularly discussed, amid shocked gasps and stifled giggles.
Alphonso had heard them all before, he only dreamed of the azure sea and sun tanning.
“You are an artist, young Ken.” Alphonso took all the credit for his young protégé.
“Thanks Alf.” it slipped out without him thinking as he was thrown a dark disapproving scowl.
“I have a proposition for you but we’ll speak later.” as he was mid way through some highlights and needed exact timing.
Ken waited excitedly, he had a proposition too.
Old Mrs Sindy had always had ‘problem’ hair and today was no exception. Alphonso was a genius and could always tame her barnet, although nothing lasted long in the dank English weather and it eventually frizzed up again. She was his best customer.
Ken was a wizz with the curlers and almost legendary at creating magnificent permanent waves to rival even Alphonso’s mastery (and that was saying something!)
“Pass us that magazine, theres a love.” called Old Mrs Sindy.
“Oh thats not a magazine, its my new book.” Ken replied as he shoved a handful of Woman’s Weeklys onto her lap. He’d been studying the crisp pages for weeks now and itching to have a go himself .
The morning rush had died down at the Salon when Ken summoned up the courage to show Alphonso.
“Why don’t we cut mens hair as well as ladies, Alphonso?”
“I’ve been reading this book and think it would bring in loads more customers, we could sell hair cream and beard oil as well as a whole range of shampoo …and offer male perms and sideburn trimming…” Ken was so excited he ranted on and on until at last he stopped as Alphonso let out a sad sigh.
“I’m too old for all that.” Alphonso had a far away expression on his perfectly moisturised face.
Ken was crestfallen and turned to retreat into the back room.
“Wait Ken, now hear my proposition,” as he held out the shop keys,
“You take them, I’m giving you my business, I haven’t got an heir but if I had one I’d like it to be you.”
“What do you say?”
Ken for once, was speechless.
“Oh yes, yes please, oh me, oh my, oh goodness…ooooh!”
“Lets shake on it then, I’ll have my solicitor write up the transfer, my Empire is now yours, to do with as you please.”
With a huge sigh of relief Alphonso had already planned his departure to sunny lands, of sipping sundowners on warm beaches; leaving behind the mounting bills and leaky roof, not to mention the lease was ending soon…but that won’t be his problem for long.
Two months later, a refit, a rename and a relaunch of the High Streets very first unisex hair salon.
It was so modern, so trendy and odds on to become a roaring success.
Ken was the happiest man alive.
©Juliette Dodd 2020