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Friday, 13 September 2019


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 
CV of published material available on request. & @JoeCushnan

Owen 'Owny' Muldoon has you in and out of the big leather barber’s chair in under five minutes. He is quick, cheap and tolerates only one hairstyle for school kids; short back and sides, with the begrudged option: Fringe or no fringe? Not only is he quick, he is rough, his big shovel-hand clamped to your skull every so often to twist and turn the head, while he stands on the same spot throughout. His array of weapons includes electric clippers, scissors and a steel comb with sharp teeth. He clips away, shaves away, no time for chat.

The ordeal over, he slathers on Brilliantine and combs the hair into a shiny Hitler-style. He glides a mirror to show you the back but nobody ever complains if he’s drawn blood. You hand over half a crown and not a word of thanks, kiss my arse or anything. Next! Out you go knowing your mates will rib you mercilessly for being a baldy bap.

Some years later.....

I’m looking through the 1965 St. Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School, Belfast yearbook. It has a photograph of every pupil from Form 1 to Form 7 and there I am, a first year (the big boys called us wee legs) at the bottom of page one, between Cunningham and Daly, flanked by Crampsie and Crozier to the left, Davey on the right. It’s proof if proof is needed that I chose the fringe option, Beatle-hair just over my eyebrows. Twenty-five pages, the history of 1960s Belfast boys' haircuts right there, a substantial number hacked and tamed, no doubt, by the demon barber Muldoon, four minutes per young head, displayed in a gallery of eleven-year-olds and up, now sixty-year-olds and up evolved greys and real baldy baps.

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