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Flashback: Memories of an old fashioned cutting crew.

Byline: Billy Butler

ANOTHER part of Liverpool tradition sadly ends today.

Tommy Mc Pherson, whose family have run Mc Phersons Barbers(pictured below) at 101 Peel Road, Bootle, cuts his last head of hair today.

The shop has been in business for exactly 100 years. Tommy has been there since he was 14 - 61 years - and counts comic Tom O' Connor among his many famous customers.

I interviewed Tommy recently in his shop. It was like going back in time to the days when there were no hairstylists or hairdressers, just simple, hardworking barbers.

In those days, lather came from a brush and a stick of solidified soap! The only styles were a 'Tony Curtis', a crew cut or a DA (work that one out yourself).

A trip to the barber's meant, for me, a chance to read comics that my mam hadn't bought me. Many's the time I relinquished my turn so I could finish the latest Superman or Batman story.

When it was my turn, out would come the plank of wood to go over the arms of the chair to bring us little 'uns to the right haircutting height.

Some barbers, when they wanted you to move your head, were quite gentle; some would grasp the top of your head and twist it to the required position forcibly I used to stare at all the hair on the floor while I was waiting and wonder what barbers did with it all. My mates and I agreed they probably stuck it all together to make wigs.

I watched, fascinated, when the barber was shaving someone and he would wield that fearsome-looking cutthroat razor up and down the strap, testing the sharpness on his finger (or even, with the more daring ones, their tongue).

Ever so carefully, he would have l the customer, flicking away the foam as he stroked the cheeks with the razor.

On the odd occasion that a cut occured, he would say 'Sorry about that, sir ' and produce a magic pencil which he would dab on the cut and which stopped the bleeding instantly.

After the have l and the haircut came the most exciting (and t o me mystifying) part of all. The barber would produce a lighted quill and wave it all over the back of your neck. What was that for?

And what did the barber mean when he would ask a customer: 'Something for the weekend, sir?'

What a pity that McPhersons', possibly the last-surviving original barber's shop, couldn't have been preserved as a part of our Capital of Culture heritage.

Have a long and happy retirement, Tommy
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 19, 2005
Words:437
Previous Article:Flashback: All change at Flags; Rachael Tinniswood on the history of one of our great buildings.
Next Article:Flashback: Down Your Way: SANDHURST CLOSE: It's out with the old; The story of a road like yours with Tina Miles.


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