Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Until the late 15th Century, barbers and surgeons were the same profession. So whether you wanted an appendectomy or just a shave, the one establishment handled both. Dropping in for a haircut must therefore have been a fairly unnerving experience, because you'd be sitting, waiting in the barber's shop alongside, not just people with bad hairdoes, but lepers, amputees, and the bubo-afflicted, too. Accordingly, "Anything for the weekend, sir?" could well have been a dose of the plague.

Then again, I'm sure that, in those days, customers were fairly blasé about the whole thing, regarding something like major brain surgery and organ transplants as being on a par with a short back and sides or a perm. A typical scenario must therefore have been as follows:

Barber-surgeon: Hello again. What can I do for you today?
Customer: It's the leg. Slightly gangrenous.
Barber-surgeon: OK. Shall I trim it a bit for you at the bottom?
Customer: Yes, just up to the knee should do.
Barber-surgeon: Level with your other stump?
Customer: Please.
Barber-surgeon: No problem. Do you want it square cut or tapered?
Customer: I'm easy. Whatever you think looks best.
((FX: Saw, saw, saw))
Barber-surgeon: Bastard weather again, eh? Won’t do the turnip harvest much good.
((FX: Saw, saw, saw))
Customer: Fucking gypsies cursing the crops, they say.
((FX: Saw, saw, saw))
Barber-surgeon: Cunts. OK, how does that look?
Customer: Yes, that's good. I like it. Can you just cauterize that artery up there?
Barber-Surgeon: There you go. Anything for the weekend, sir?
Customer: Yes, a pack of three leeches, please. I’m feeling lucky.

Of course, if the split between barbers and surgeons hadn't occurred, Harley Street would now be full of Toni & Guy and Vidal Sassoon franchises, all manned by scalpel-wielding homosexuals sporting blonde bouffants and mincing around in tight, black trousers. And if you didn’t have BUPA cover, you’d probably be on a three-year waiting list for root treatment and hair extensions. So all in all, it’s a good thing that it did happen. (Unless, of course, you’re one of those who actually relishes the risk of being buggered while under general anaesthetic.)


Anonymous said...

Way off an' shite!"Ah'm gawn tae Alessandro mah fucking hair artiste" Ye doss cunt, see if you wuz in Scotland in the middle ages it'd be "Only the finest leeches for you Sir, would Mr Slavko require Augsberg leeches or slum it with Venetian leeches?" "Way and fuck" Joe de Slavko would reply"G'ie ays they Augsberg ones".

Ron Broxted said...

I think I want to splash my glop all over your sweet face Joe.....oooh matron.