Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Long Midnight Of Barney Thomson by Douglas Lindsay (Blasted Heath 1999)

There were some in the town who could not understand why James Henderson hadn't closed the shop, but only those with no conception of the Calvinist work ethic, which Henderson imagined himself to possess. If there were to be members of the public needing their hair cut, then the shop had to be open.

Had it been a women's hairdressers, the customers would have fled, and the shop would already have gone out of business. But men are lazy about hair, creatures of habit, and the previous two days had been business as usual. And besides, the word was getting out – there was a barber there at the top of his game. If Jim Baxter had cut hair at Wembley in '63, they were saying, this is how he would have done it.

The chair at the back of the shop was now empty. In the chair next to that James Henderson was working. He knew he shouldn't be. It was ridiculous, and his wife was furious, but he told himself that this was what Wullie would've wanted. What was more important to him was that it got him out of the house, took his mind off what had happened.

The next chair along was worked by James's friend, Arnie Braithwaite, who had agreed to start a couple of weeks early. His was a steady, if unspectacular style, a sort of Robert Vaughn of the barber business. He wouldn't give you an Oscar winning haircut, but then neither would he let you down.

And then finally, working the prized window chair, was Barney Thomson. He'd moved into it with almost indecent haste, the day before. Perhaps if he'd been thinking straight then James would've considered it odd, but everything was a blur to him at the moment.

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