The Price of a Haircut

minnewyork.com

As a young man, my husband was in the sort of way of business where a good suit, polished shoes and neat hair were regarded as essential (by his employers, at any rate).

He thus made frequent visits to a local barber’s shop, where more often than not he would be attended to by an even younger Greek Cypriot chap, not long over and working in his uncle’s business.
They chatted in the desultory way you do when someone else has clippers and scissors near vital parts of your head and when the chap started his own shop my husband followed him there.

The business prospered until, still a young man, he could fulfill his dream.
He sold the shop and returned to Cyprus to build a house for himself and his family, investing the proceeds to ensure he would never have to work again.
He sent a letter with photographs from time to time….he was living a happy life in the sun while my husband, having returned to the ministrations of uncle, was still elbowing his way on and off the Tube to the City.

Then a few years later the chap was back in the uncle’s shop, plying his sharp implements.

The Turks had invaded northern Cyprus…he had lost his property…lost his dream… and had been forced to come back to London to start all over again, living in a little flat on a busy road.
His children had to learn English, start new schools…his wife worked as a cleaner part time, and him?
He worked for uncle.

But only for a couple of years.
He saved his money, took a loan from uncle and started his own business again, building it up into a chain of shops.

My husband did not see him so frequently then as, having started his own business, he could avoid haircuts unless about to go fifteen rounds with the bank manager, whose complete ignorance of the field of business involved did not hold him back from telling my husband how to run it.
My husband’s uncles did not have the same philanthropic streak as that of the barber, unfortunately.
However, when he called at the main shop this man would always cut his hair…as an old client…and they chatted as they used to do years before, keeping in touch off and on when my husband moved away from London.

Then he did it again.
It took him longer as he wanted to be sure he would have enough to retire properly, but he once again sold his business and returned to Cyprus.

He built his house, he invested his money, his wife and children had a good life and he could relax.

The odd letter with photographs would arrive over the years showing the happy picture of a well deserved early retirement, though none since we moved to Costa Rica.

But today we had an e mail from an old friend of my husband….with news of the barber.

His money is, of course, in a Cypriot bank.
Almost sixty per cent of it has in effect been confiscated….thirty seven and half percent under one legal scam and another twenty two percent under another.
And the remaining forty percent?
He can have a few Euros at a time….can’t transfer it abroad….his dream of security for his family shattered yet again.

He’s no longer a young man yet if he has retained anything of his indomitable character he will be be trying once again to pick up the pieces….

But why the blazes should he have to?