These things I know

Interview by John Hind

There’s an old saying in the trade, a customer comes in and the barber says, ‘How would you like your hair cut, sir? ‘And he replies, ‘In silence!’ There again, many a man will tell his barber more than he tells his wife.
As a barber, you see faces in reverse, in the mirror.You get to see the other side. Faces hang different, they have different eyes and expressions when they’re the other way round. And that’s the same as how they see themselves. But when I greet them and when I take them to the door, I see them the way others see them.
No one wants to bury their children. My daughter’s disabled and it’s very upsetting, very upsetting indeed. She’s got a rare, incurable disease called Juvenile Batten’s. Up until eight, she was fine, then she started having epileptic fits. Now she’s totally blind, in a wheelchair, and has everything done for her. When you’re told your child has probably five to 10 years to live, that’s one of the worst things you can experience. But, touch wood, she’s on 10 years now and not too bad at the moment. She’s a fighter, she’s a Stevens.
If people think I’m going to tell them if they’re going bald, they’re very much mistaken. If someone asks, ‘How’s my bald patch going?’ I’ll hold up the hand-mirror behind him, but the back of the mirror rather than the glass. And sometimes I hold the back of the hand mirror up in front of people and say, ‘Oh! You have caught the sun there, sir.’
It’s a shame there’s not so many Americans in town nowadays, because they’re good tippers.
I wanted to be either a footballer or a barber, and barbering won. Some things disappear in life, and I was a mediocre player. Yet in one inter-schools match at 15, I managed to score six goals. The first was from a corner kick – a Jimmy Greaves. It sailed and curved straight into the back of the net. Then I got five more goals from the confidence. I remember it like it was yesterday.
A celebrity makes you nervous, cutting his hair the first time. Especially if he arrives under another name. At the same time he’s putting a hell of a lot of trust in you, so it’s a confidence-builder. While I’m doing it, I’ll say something like, ‘I hope you don’t mind me saying so, sir, but you don’t half look like that Mel Gibson.’
More people should use shaving brushes. It’s beneficial to lift up the bristles so you take the whole lot off, rather than just the heads. And you’re softening the beard, so it comes off even easier.
My father is my hero. He made car batteries in Dagenham and he was a PoW for years. The best thing he taught me is how to be kind and respectful. He’s told me how people were treated in the war and he’s tried to be the opposite of that, to look after people.
Sandwiches in a deckchair on a warm summer’s day in Green Park will do me for lunch any day.
I don’t feel people are so ready with a joke since 9-11.
When you shave you take off two to three layers of skin. So you should always not shave for one day a week. Or for the weekend. You have to have time off to let your skin calm down. Then, come Monday morning, with the right scented shaving cream and Coral Skin Food before and after, it feels like drinking your first pint. Of course, on days you don’t shave you should still moisturise from the forehead to down under your chin.
If someone falls asleep in the chair you can always wake him up just by slapping the cold towel on at the end. Or you say, ‘You’ve got a cold one going on now!’
Sincerity is good to have and there’s not too much around today. There’s less straight talking, a lot of bullshitters, frankly. I think it’s just the way the world goes nowadays. I don’t think people can be genuine with each other – there’s always a bit of ducking and diving.
You can sit and enjoy all eight DVDs of Only Fools and Horses, time after time after time. David Jason came to Trumper’s once and wrote ‘Lovely Jubbly’ in the visitors’ book. You can’t say fairer than that.
I’m a bit like a sculptor, getting images of hair shapes and working to a vision. I also like to pamper.
Everybody in the chair is different, but I’d say red-haired people are more fiery, generally speaking. And people with lighter hair seem to be calmer. But curly-haired and straight-haired people are about the same.
The Walker Brothers’ ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ always touches me. You hear the lyrics and it’s saying … well, the sun ain’t gonna shine any more. That says it all.