A Close Shave: Suffering For One’s Art


Suffering for one’s art is not something I’m used to, as Bristol’s local tailor. By this I mean, I am no longer bound by the vagaries of fashion or sub cultures, which I once was, which often require us to do things, or, indeed, wear things, in the name of fashion which often prove uncomfortable. While my renaissance style, or, indeed, foibles, may not be to everybody’s taste, I am of the volition that, a suit, and indeed one’s clothes, should not only flatter the wearer, but also be comfortable to wear, and at all times.

Now, whilst the beard is almost certainly enjoying a renaissance of late, I’ve not sported one since last years Movember, when I was informed by one’s better half that the mo’ was to stay, but the beard must go! So, you can imagine my discomfort, and Saffron Darby’s displeasure, when I made a conscious decision not to shave during our recent staycation, in order that I might treat myself to a proper hot towel shave upon my return: only to be informed by my barber that there was not a slot available for another week and a half !

But the day arrived, and I was giddy with excitement! I had also taken delivery of a new double breasted blazer from Brown in Town’smarvellous tailors, and was giving a it a road test by marching across town, late as usual, to one’s monthly luncheon with my Business Network South West cohorts. Ergo, I was a little hot under the collar, upon my arrival at my barbers, Bangshanky, as it was a sweltering, sunny day in Bristol city.

Before proceedings began, I was treated to a cold beer, and not just any old beer, but a bottle of Zero Degrees finest pale ale. Located at 76 Colston St. Bangshanky are literally opposite the Zero Degrees micro brewery, and are afforded the luxury of stocking their wonderful craft beers.

Having ascertained that my barber, Neil, would afford me the same haircut which he gave me last time (which, it transpires was in April, failing in my attempts to heed my barbers advice and pre-book a monthly trim, ergo, the barent was a little unwieldy this time around!), he washed my hair and did his thing. He gave me a superb haircut.

Now, I am firm believer that a barbers is the spa for gentlemen, where we can relax, take a load off, read magazines without interruption, and be pampered, and on a regular basis. But, with the advent of my wet shave on the horizon, I must confess to being a little distracted during my haircut, by my excitement at what awaited me on the traditional barbers chair next to me.

The chair in question is an original Olympia by JJ Maes, and is circa 1950’s, and smacks of the art deco era in it’s style, and it’s build: heavy steel and aluminium construction with a separate-hinged head and foot rest. Once you have nestled-in, and I’d suggest that finding the optimum position of choice and comfort, is key, as, within minutes of being in Dan’s expert hands, I was comatose.

I was roused from my meditative state on various occasions during the shaving process, which began once Dan had washed my face with a traditional shaving brush, hot water and soap. He then massaged my face with a menthol scrub, which left my face tingling. Scrub removed, a hot towel was applied to soften the bristles (I would imagine this is standard procedure to prevent the dulling of the blade of a cut throat razor during the shaving process, but it was under no threat from my scraggy excuse of a beard, if you could call it that). Then and only then, is shaving soap applied, with a traditional shaving brush, as you’d imagine. Then the shaving begins. Not given to the theatre of some barbers whittling your beard at speed, as if to demonstrate their ability to take you to within an inch of your life, our Dan is more considered in his shaving style and provides an altogether more relaxing experience, from start to finish.

And what a finish it was, smooth as a baby’s bottom: which is more than I can say for my bottom (sorry, it’s a quote from Black Adder by Stephen Fry as Throat Slasher Wellington). So, if you are planning on treating yourself to a professional hot towel shave, book before you embark upon a journey of hirsute growth, and ensure you do not have to suffer for yours, or indeed, your barbers, art!

Brown in Town