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The Third Rule of Quality

Sabrina S and Sean O’Hare

 

 

 

Part One – Mike

"Well, just to summarise our conversation, I think you've done really well in your first year with us. An exceptional performance," I added, and meant it.

"Thanks Mike. So does that mean I'll get promoted this year?" Philippa asked in her forthright manner.

"Er, well no, I don't really think that's likely. The promotion board sits in a couple of weeks. There are a number of things you have to address to get promotion." Her smile faded a little and her expression changed to one of 'such as? You've already said I'm doing a good job'. I quickly added, "you have to demonstrate consistency and, er, other things."

She smiled sweetly and said firmly, "I would like you to tell me exactly what I need to do to get promoted." She ran a hand through her extremely long, thick, auburn hair in that characteristic way I had witnessed so often since she began working for the company.

I stole a glance at my watch, and then returned her steely gaze. "I'll give it some thought."

 

* * *

The fact was Philippa WAS doing extremely well but I knew the workings of the company well enough to know that it was almost unheard of to promote someone after just one year. She knew as well as I that she had probably been incorrectly graded on joining but to promote her after such a short period would somehow, perhaps rather perversely, reflect badly on the managers and personnel staff who had recruited her.

However, because of her ability, I had no hesitation in assigning her to one of my projects when a suitable opportunity came up soon after that meeting. It meant spending a night away from the office together but that in itself didn't seem a too unpleasant thought

The first day in Harrogate went well, with Philippa contributing to the meetings in all the right places. Even the client seemed impressed. There was no doubt that Philippa was a real charmer but in a very genuine way. She was clearly used to knowing what she wanted, and then going out and getting it.

Over dinner that evening at a small Italian restaurant near the hotel, Philippa inevitably steered the conversation to the question of her promotion.

"So Mike what DO I need to do to get promoted?" she asked, slowly pushing the long hair out of her face. Slowed perhaps by the forerunners to her third large glass of Barolo that the waiter had just brought to the table.

I took a sip from my glass and thought back to the workshop I had attended the previous week. It had been facilitated by Mary Grant, the head of the personnel department. It concerned the criteria for promotion.

* * *

Mary had stood up at the start of the session in her smart, bright red, beautifully fitted suit. And with all the accessories matching just so. Even her slightly too short skirt was matched by her slightly too short hair. Indeed, perhaps the hair was much too short. Whatever, it was striking. Crisp blonde layers on the top, blending into what my barber would probably call a short back and sides. However it was plain to see that this was no barbered cut, but something fashioned by one of the very best stylists that London had to offer. It sat so perfectly.

After introductions she launched in to the various considerations that needed to be taken into account when recommending staff for promotion. Little of it was news to us. Little of what personnel ever said WAS news. And even if it was news, it was rarely interesting. My mind drifted off a little and became interested in trying to guess how short the hairs were on Mary's nape.

"And so what do you think, Mike?" Mary suddenly said and all eyes turned towards me.

"A quarter .... er ..." I blurted out, awoken from my metrication study, but stopping myself before saying 'of an inch'.

"Very good. Actually about 23% of new recruits will be promoted after two years." Her gaze returned to take in the rest of the room. "But promotion doesn't just rely on their technical abilities. They can be measured fairly accurately " - unlike the hairs on your nape I thought - "but other qualities also come in to play such as presence, assertiveness and appearance." She seemed to be playing a game of charades as, with each of those words, she acted it out. Waving her arms expansively for 'presence'. While 'assertiveness' was in her tone as she seemed to fix each of my colleagues with her steely gaze in turn - all in the space of a half a second. And when it came to appearance she smoothed her skirt with one hand and the short hairs on her nape with the other. "Yes, what we are looking for is the total quality professional!"

There were several nods and a chorus of acknowledging murmurs led by the boss. Mary continued to stand there completely at ease, surveying 'her' company (as she saw it!) and giving her hair another pat for good measure.

* * *

As with all presentations from personnel, I had immediately forgotten all about it. Until that moment in the restaurant. "Well, I attended a meeting about it last week," I said, wracking my brains to remember anything that was said. Philippa nodded encouragingly. "Er, the thing the company is looking for is the total quality professional."

Philippa gave a derisive snort, suddenly leaning back in her chair and downing the rest of her glass. "Oh really, and what does that mean?" Her hair had gone a little awry, half of it streaming down over the back of the chair while the rest tousled all around her face and shoulders. For the first time since I had known her it actually looked a little untidy. Still quite fetching if you like that sort of thing, but rather untidy.

Oh shit, what does total quality professional mean I thought. Oh yes. "Well it isn't just your technical abilities as they can be measured by appraisals and such like. It's other less tangible qualities. Assertiveness is one," and something she had just demonstrated by managing to attract the attention of the waiter and having another glass of wine in her hand within 30 seconds. This woman was certainly going to overtake me in the promotion stakes given a little time! She took a sip, nodded and then attempted to push away some of the tendrils of hair that had somehow become entangled in her mouth as she drank. Others were left unnoticed, dunked in the glass. She had quite clearly had enough wine for one evening. "Um, its also presence," I said.

"Who do I have to give presents to," she giggled quite uncharacteristically. "Would YOU like a present Mike?" she said deeply, a seductive tone clearly apparent in her voice. She HAD had too much wine! Anyway she was a good ten years younger than I. Besides, it would be complicated at the moment.

Ignoring her interruption - or at least trying to - I triumphantly announced the third of Mary's quality criteria. "And appearance."

I sat back in my chair and pointedly surveyed Philippa's current appearance. The work clothes, the equal of Mary's, had been replaced this evening by a well fitting pair of jeans and a simple top. Work or not, Philippa's dress sense could not be faulted. But slouching in her chair, and unselfconsciously fishing out a hank of Barolo-highlighted hair from her glass - and then sucking it dry - a thought crossed my mind.

"No problem, I'm always smart and pwesta- ... and presetab- ... and tidy," she slurred, leaning back confidently in her chair, nearly toppling it over, and then spilling a few drops of red wine on her clean white top. She didn't notice.

"Yesss," I said non-committally, while giving her an appraising stare which finally settled on her hair.

"What?" she asked, noticing the spots of wine and trying to hide them with her hair. "Look I'm not at work now, I can wear what I like!" I didn't say a word, just stared. "What?" she repeated.

"Well Philippa it's your hair," I suggested, a lot more convincingly then I felt inside. "Do you always wear it loose like that?"

"Yes I like it loose. It's nice. Men- I mean everyone seems to like it that way including me," she replied looking down and pushing all the rest of her hair behind her so it flowed down the back of the chair with the rest. "So, what of it?"

"Well, it's a bit, well, you know ... I mean couldn't you wear it up or something."

She put down her nearly empty glass and gathered all her hair into a great thick ponytail on her crown. "Like this you mean," she said swinging it from side to side and nearly finding it flambed by the waiter at the next table. I tried not to react - at least not in the way I usually do at the sight of a long, swinging ponytail. "Like a little schoolgirl," she mocked. "Shall I wear ribbons as well?"

"Well no, I was more thinking of some sort of bun thing. You know ... sort of classy," I stammered as she stared almost malevolently at me.

"Mike, I am neither a librarian or a granny. A BUN indeed!"

I took a deep breath. "Or you could have it cut perhaps?"

"CUT!" I felt the whole restaurant was looking at me at the discovery of my secret interest. In fact they were more interested in their profiteroles.

"Yes, something like that waitress's hair for example," I said nonchalantly as if it was the first time I had noticed that evening. In fact I had been staring at it every chance I had had all evening. "That's a very smart style. And it wouldn't fall in your wine."

Philippa looked a little sheepish at that reminder, and her gaze followed mine to the waitress whose back was turned to us at the cashier's desk.

We were both silent as Philippa studiously appraised the lines of the hairstyle. It could be most easily described as a wedge. It was glossily smooth through the crown and finished in a blunt line a few inches short of her hairline. The hairline was clearly visible as all the hair below that blunt line resembled the fine pelt of small furry animal. As the waitress turned we could make out the glossy cap curving down on to the cheek on one side, while on the other it was much shorter and tucked behind one ear. Rarely had I seen such a perfect asymmetrical hairstyle outside of the confines of the Internet.

The waitress saw us staring and mouthed, "I'll be right with you!" Full marks again for Philippa's assertiveness.

I fully expected the tone of 'CUT!' to be repeated at such a preposterous suggestion by me. Instead she quietly said, "it's extremely short Mike," giving me a rather odd look which could have meant anything. "Excuse me I need to go to the loo."

Oh well, I couldn't really have expected anything else I thought, but it had been worth a try. While Philippa was powdering her nose, the waitress brought the bill and took my card giving me a chance for a close-up appraisal of her nape. Strangely there was no additional charge on the bill for this extremely valuable service, but she received a good tip from me anyway. After all, it was on expenses.

Philippa returned just as the waitress brought the receipt for the meal. Philippa looked a little more her usual self now. Self-assured and in control. "My friend and I couldn't help admiring your haircut earlier," she stated levelly.

The waitress looked at me and smiled. "Yes I know," she said simply. Gulp! How many times had she seen me admiring it?

"We think it looks very nice don't we Mike?" Shut up Philippa you're embarrassing us I thought, squirming inside. Correction, you're embarrassing me! "It's very short!" Philippa stated abruptly. I didn't dare say anything but grabbed the receipt from the waitress's hand.

"Thank you. Yes," the waitress said. "Yes it is short." Well what else could she say?

"Mike thinks I should have mine cut like yours." The waitress's eyes nearly popped out as she took in the sight of Philippa's thick, mid-back locks now receiving the characteristic 'Philippa Push'. "Do you get it done locally?"

"Yes, at 'Eighth Wonder' off the high street." It was clear that the waitress was becoming a little uncomfortable at Philippa's direct line of questioning. So was I. "Just ask for Stephanie, and say Claudia sent you," she added and moved away as swiftly as she could.

"Thank you," we chorused, and left.

On the way back to the hotel no more was said about the events that had taken place. We chatted inconsequentially about nothing much and said goodnight in the lift. As I stepped out to allow the lift to take Philippa to a higher floor - probably the penthouse suite knowing Philippa's ability to chat up the guy on reception and gain an upgrade - I looked back. She was looking down and preparing for the "Philippa Push' with her hair. She suddenly looked up and, just as the doors closed, I could swear she had gone bright red.

* * *

Our first meeting with the client the following day wasn't until the afternoon so I busied myself with writing up notes and checking email before going down for a late breakfast at around 9.30am before preparing to check out. Philippa was already there but appeared to have finished her breakfast or at least wasn't eating anything. She was making inroads on a large cup of coffee, although she looked her usual well-presented and confident herself. The only real difference was that the front of her hair was pulled back severely from her forehead, although the rest still cascaded gloriously down the back of her smart suit.

"Good morning Philippa, how's the head?" I enquired, attempting to keep the conversation light.

"Oh fine. Yes, fine thanks," she smiled. A rather restrained smile I thought as if she wanted to say something else. She seemed a little nervous. An apology perhaps for that conversation with the waitress. But perhaps it was I who should apologise I thought.

"Look, Philippa -" I began to say, but was interrupted.

"Mike, we're not meeting the client until this afternoon. Right?" I nodded. "Good. Well, I have given some thought to what you were saying last. In fact I've not thought about much else. The total quality thing and all that."

"Yes, I -" She ignored me.

"So I have made an appointment for 11.00 to have my hair cut at this 'Eight Wonder' place. With Stephanie. Will that be OK?" she asked imploringly. "I REALLY want this promotion."

I was about to launch into a speech about a haircut not being a guarantee of promotion. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I stopped myself. She suddenly looked so vulnerable. "Yes, that'll be fine. If that's what you want." She nodded, and started the 'Philippa Push' and then realised with her current austere hairstyle there was no need. She looked a tad confused.

The conversation then switched to other matters, including the forthcoming meeting with the client in the afternoon. We finished breakfast, checked out and loaded our bags into my car. Philippa looked at her watch, and I at mine. Just past 10.30.

"Well, er, I guess I better get along to see if 'Eighth Wonder' lives up to its name," Philippa announced nervously. I nodded, a little sadly as I knew where I wanted to be, but planned to have a wander around the town and then meeting Philippa for lunch after her appointment to view her new look. Naturally I expected this to be a trim of a few inches. "Look, I know this sounds a bit odd but would you come along with me. To the salon I mean. It's just -".

"OK," I said simply. "No problem." Although that wasn't really what my insides were saying to me at this thought!

So we strolled down the high street and turned into a quaint, pedestrianised lane. And, after a few steps, halted outside an establishment that proclaimed itself to be 'Eighth Wonder'.

It was undoubtedly a high class salon, but an attempt had been made to make it look different. The deep blue painted woodwork of the shop-front and the silver hand painted lettering seemed to proclaim that. Philippa visibly gulped but didn't say a word. We entered.

The same colours were reflected in the internal decor although it appeared much more spacious that one might have been led to believe from outside. Tasteful antique objects abounded. Several potplants were dotted around. A stripped wooden floor matched the similarly framed mirrors. The most unusual antiques were the line of four chrome and leather barbers chairs mounted in front of each mirror. The overall ambience was of a cottage in the south of France. En Provence!

The salon was empty. I guessed Tuesday mornings weren't exactly the busiest time for high-class salons in Harrogate.

"Hello. I'm Steph. You must be Philippa," stated the tall woman who had appeared from the back of the salon. Philippa nodded "Let me take your jacket." She did so and, without another word, led Philippa to one of the chairs and indicated she should sit down.

I stood there feeling a tad useless, and rather superfluous to requirements.

As she looked back in my direction I distinctly heard Stephanie whisper "Men!" to Philippa, and then looking at me she said, "it's OK, you can sit in one of the other chairs. You're making the place look untidy." She laughed. I sat down in the adjacent chair and tried to look interested - but at the same time not too interested.

"So, Claudia sent you along did she. That sounds like our Claudia! I haven't seen her for two or three weeks. She must be due for a trim." I mentally calculated back a few weeks, based on the fine pelt I had regularly appraised on Claudia the night before. And gulped!

While Stephanie talked she busied herself running her hands through Philippa's long locks. If truth be told, something I had always dreamed of doing. She seemed to be assessing her hair before she was ready to speak again. She lifted the small ponytail of hair that was held back from Philippa's forehead and looked at it a little disparagingly.

"Right!" she suddenly said, gazing in to the mirror and placing both palms on Philippa's slicked back hair on her crown. "What are we going to do with your hair today?"

She stood there, smiling and immobile, waiting expectantly for an answer - the full length of her body clothed in black, and topped by what only could be described as a black, feminine crewcut. Philippa was as I had never seen her - lost for words!

I decided to come to her rescue. After all she did want me there. Whether she considered a rescue or not, I'm not really sure. "Well Philippa really admired Claudia's haircut."

"Did you really Philippa? Well, that's no problem at all." Stephanie pumped at the chair, flicked open a cape and fitted it securely around Philippa's neck, quite unfazed by the mounds of hair that gathered there.

"Well, er , yes Mike's right but... Steph, that is -" she mumbled.

"Or would you prefer something more like mine?" Stephanie ran a hand over her buzzed skull, smiling broadly. I looked away!

"NO!" Philippa exclaimed. "Like Claudia's but perhaps not so -" she started to say.

"Excellent! Well the way you have styled your hair this morning is almost perfect." Philippa gave her a questioning look. "We leave this silly little ponytail to one side for a moment and clipper all the rest away. Then I'll style the top. Great stuff. I may even be able to give you a discount for saving me time." Philippa looked shocked, perhaps at the thought that she had been hoisted by her own petard ... or her own ponytail! "Don't worry, just kidding," Stephanie added after a slight pause.

But not kidding by much. She unraveled the tied back hair then immediately set about sectioning the hair at the crown. The section started an inch or so above Philippa's ears and went all around her head at the same level. The hair that streamed down the back of the chair from the very white horizontal parting was still very thick. I had never heard Philippa this quiet. She just looked ahead into the mirror with an undefinable expression on her face.

"Right let's get cutting," announced Stephanie. As she picked up her scissors, Philippa's eyes visibly widened. Without another word she launched the blades into a large hank of hair at the nape and chopped it off very close to the scalp with undisguised relish.

She held it up so we could all see it. "Phew, over three feet long! You must have had it for years, poor thing. You'll be glad to be rid of it all I'm sure." Silence from Philippa. "Not that HE will of course. Men! I expect your boyfriend's been telling you not to cut if for ages. Here, a little memento for you."

Embarrassingly I suddenly found myself holding the cut hank of hair. I found myself wanting to refute most of Stephanie's incorrect assumptions. But she spoke and moved fast and my immediate concern what I should do with over three feet of surprisingly heavy hair.

"Hey this is really cool," she said. "I really do enjoy chopping off long hair." Well that answered one of the questions I had always wanted to ask a stylist!

As I watched Stephanie swiftly slice the scissors through all the remaining hair and see it collect in great piles around the chair or on the cape, I had an answer. I reluctantly let my memento drop to the floor while neither of them were looking.

"So you want it like Claudia's do you," she said, plugging in the clippers. I noted a guard was already fitted to the blades. Philippa looked worried but nodded. "Like it was when it was freshly cut of course." Philippa nodded again. She removed the guard off the clippers and turned them on. I knew what this meant. I doubted Philippa did. "Good Girl." A pause. "Brave girl! Head down please," she requested, placing a hand on Philippa's crown for good measure and easing it forward.

I was transfixed. I had never seen clippers used on a woman before. I watched as the bare metal blades were placed on the white skin of her nape and, without ceremony, were pushed roaring into the shortened hair of the nape resulting in a pure white swathe of almost bare skin.

Even while her long hair was being chopped off Philippa had shown little emotion. That changed as she felt the clippers on her neck. Her eyes widened and she was biting her lip. Whether in anguish or trying to stifle some sort of emotional response was unclear. I began to feel a little guilty as my comment the previous evening had precipitated all of this.

Stephanie worked quickly and very soon all the scalp below the sectioned hair on the crown had been completely sheared. She put down the clippers and released the top hair and combed it through. Such was the thickness of Philippa's hair it almost looked as if nothing had happened in the last few minutes. That thought was quickly dispelled as, with much greater precision Stephanie began to snip a rough bob shape around her head; this once more exposed most of the denuded scalp.

She dampened down the hair now. It was only then I realised that it hadn't been shampooed first. And once more began to use scissors and comb to graduate the longer hair at the back so it flowed smoothly over the crown and finished in an abrupt wedge shape. She moved to one side, and with infinite care, snipped that side shorter and shorter to emulate the asymmetric nature of the Claudia's style. Moving to the other side she trimmed it perfectly so it curved delicately on to Philippa's cheek.

She was clearly concentrating, intent on doing a good job. The evidence being that she had shut up! And as before, Philippa had remained silent also. Stephanie now worked some product through Philippa's hair, took a brush and blowdrier, and finished the style so it shone with sleek perfection.

She undid the cape and I noted that Philippa's neck now appeared swan-like and appeared to go on forever. A mirror was held up and, for the first time, she could see the back. There was no hiding her gasp at this revelation. Stephanie giggled at this reaction. "Short isn't it!" she stated.

"Yes. Very! But," and I was worried what Philippa would say now, "You have cut it beautifully Steph. Absolutely beautifully." I could have sworn there was a tear - of pleasure? - in the corner of on eye. "I couldn't be more delighted. Thanks so much." And I knew Philippa well enough to know that she was being entirely genuine in her praise.

"And what do you think then?" Stephanie asked, looking at me almost in defiance.

"It's ... well, it's ... wonderful, Stephanie. Absolutely wonderful," I said truthfully.

She looked a little taken aback by this. It was as if her life's mission to upset men, by cutting off the long hair of every women who entered her salon had been thwarted. Then she relaxed a little. "Philippa, hang on to this one, do you know I think he actually likes short-haired women."

Philippa's and my eyes met rather awkwardly at this pronouncement. But we both recognised that there was no value in long explanations to someone who we were very unlikely to ever see again.

So with little more to say, Philippa paid, collected her jacket and we left.

We walked in silence and, by almost telepathic agreement, we walked into the first pub we met. I got us each a small glass of wine - I had to keep reminding myself that we had to work in the afternoon - and we sat down at an empty table.

"So Mike do you really like it? It feels so different. I mean, I look so different!"

"I love it Philippa," I answered truthfully. "It seems to make your whole face come alive. And what do you think of it yourself?"

"Oh! Well, yes, I like it too." She tipped her head forward coyly, and the longer side slid provocatively over one eye. She sipped her wine and smiled.

 

* * *

Surprisingly no more was said about the haircut over lunch or even on the long drive back to London. Philippa didn't even mention her promotion. It was all quite relaxed and we got on well. Earlier we had completed the meetings successfully and while Philippa received some odd looks from the clients regarding her dramatic overnight change in appearance there were no comments passed.

Back in the office I had several urgent things to attend to - not least the preparation for the promotion board - and Philippa and I had little time to talk. Naturally I continued to admire her haircut from afar but we never mentioned it. I heard others talking around the office - the women in particular, and observations appeared mixed - but it wasn't connected to our time in Harrogate and hence no one said anything to me. Fortunately!

So at the end of the week the meeting of the promotion board took place. We were in a small glass-fronted meeting room in the centre of our group's open plan workspace. While we reviewed the notes in front of us, under the watchful eye of Mary Grant, there were equally watchful eyes all around trying to gauge the mood of the proceedings. Including Philippa's.

Because of her past work, and her work in Harrogate, I had decided to go out on a limb and put in a recommendation for her promotion. I realised it would have no chance of success but thought it would serve to raise her profile to the CEO and personnel. It was the least I could do after the experience that Philippa had presented to me.

"And so we come to Philippa Anderson," Mary announced. "Mike, this is rather a surprise. A recommendation for promotion. She's only been with us for less than a year hasn't she?"

"Yes that's right." I had prepared my pre-emptive strike which was the only way to tackle Mary Grant. "I took on board the points from your excellent presentation a couple of weeks ago, and considered them in preparing this presentation." Mary's 'presence' increased dramatically at this praise. "She has proved herself well able to take on any work we give her. I think we all agree that she has made a big impression on the department in a short space of time and is very capable of asserting herself in difficult situations. Also," I took a deep breath, "her appearance seems to comply with your requirements for a total quality professional."

Mary positively beamed, presumably because her points had actually been remembered by someone, let alone 'taken on board'. "Well, yes Mike, I tend to agree. She does fit the mould of the company rather well. I did have my doubts concerning her rather youthful appearance not presenting the required level of gravitas to the role. However, I don't know if any of you men have noticed, but she has had her hair restyled," - she patted her own nape and stared through the office window in the direction of Philippa, and her bared nape - "and I have to say I think it is a great improvement. Much more appropriate to her new role. I recommend that we endorse her promotion." It was a well known fact that any recommendation personnel endorsed would not be refuted by the CEO or any of the other directors, so it was a done deed. "And Mike, well done on your excellent coaching to bring her on so quickly. I don't think that fact will be ignored by the management team."

The meeting went on and on as every individual in the department had to be considered. By the time we finished only the diligent staff remained at their desks. Including, of course, Philippa. She had her back to me and I approached slowly giving me the maximum time to take in the fine lines of her delectable nape - I was allowed to think such thoughts now as it was way past normal working hours.

I seized the moment, leaned over and whispered into her ear, "Philippa, you're going to be promoted."

"What! But you said ..." I nodded. Once again she was speechless. "So you ... ?" I nodded. "Wow! Er, thank you. Thanks Mike, SO much." She jumped up and flung her arms around me and gave me a peck on the cheek. In natural reaction my own arms came up and, fleetingly, my fingers touched her bare nape. "Sorry, I didn't mean ..." I nodded; I had begun to feel like a nodding dog on the back shelf of a Ford Cortina. Fortunately there was no one else around to observe this exchange. She seemed more than a little flustered. "Thanks very much!"

I smiled. "My pleasure," I said truthfully, and went to clear my desk and check my email before leaving for the day.

* * *

Things went well over the next few days. Philippa's promotion was formally announced along with that of several others. She appeared over the moon at all the attention she was receiving. We had no time for more than a brief chat (and nothing about her hair of course), but I promised to attend her promotion 'bash' down the pub on Friday.

However on Friday morning I came in to the office early to give myself some peace and quiet to check my emails and so forth. And I had quite a shock when I began to read one of my emails, not on my work account, but my 'secret' Hotmail account.

Hello Mr NapeShearer,

Or should that be Mike LOL! I read your story - my story - on the haircut story archive last night. It is incredibly well written - it made me feel as if I was really there ... which of course I was! LOL!!

But then I think all your stories are wonderful. I've been a great fan of NapeShearer's stories for ages. But I have to say, I had no idea you shared my interest (in real life!) until the moment I started reading 'my' story. I was as gobsmacked as you probably are now. It seems you are as good at keeping your interest under wraps (or capes!) as I am, and even with the gross provocation of Eighth Wonder and the wonderful Stephanie.

Don't worry your 'secret' is safe with me, as I know mine is with you. You've helped me live out my wildest fantasy and it would never have happened without your support. Knowingly or otherwise!

I'm still coming to terms with this amazing coincidence. but I hope you don't mind me saying that I would love to spend some time with you so we can discuss our mutual interest. Please say yes? Besides I have a nape that's going to need shearing very soon and you seem extremely well qualified to do the job. And perhaps there'll be another story!

As I say don't worry. This is going to be fun!

My very best wishes,

Barber Ella (or, to you, Philippa)

 

Gulp! I sat there gobsmacked (she was right there) for a good five minutes. She was right also that I had written up the events of the previous week and posted it to the archive as a story. I had written plenty of fantasy stories in the past and the opportunity to add this real story to my portfolio seemed too good to be true. I never actually dreamed that anyone involved in the events would actually read the story. I guess only someone with an interest would read it, so no harm done. No one will find out as we were the only ones there. She's right: this could be great fun. A chance to live up to my name and shear a nape!

I filed the email to respond to later and, in a mellow frame of mind, I opened the next.

NapeShearer

My name is Stephanie and I work as a stylist in Harrogate. I am extremely concerned by the thinly disguised references to my salon in the story you have just written and intend to consider legal action. I believe you, Mike, and your friend Philippa work for ...

 

Part Two – Philippa

My first few weeks with the company were a bit of a blur. Until now, I’d worked in smaller organisations, and the office politics, greed, aggression and mercenary attitude of a big multinational had been a real eye opener. Thank heavens for Mike, my mentor! He steered me carefully through the icebergs of management all my first year, and as we worked closely together I think he was as impressed by me as I was with him.

Not only was I impressed by him but also intrigued by him. He was in his mid thirties and unmarried. Not gay, certainly. He dated women. But after working with him on several projects, many of which were away from home base and necessitated us staying in hotels and eating in restaurants, I noticed the kind of women to which his gaze always strayed, as if of its own accord.

Women with short hair.

Now there are boob men and leg men and bum men, and most of us women fit suitably into one of these popular "Phwoar!" categories. But perhaps too…there are hair men?

I’d noticed Mike eyeing my long, glossy brown locks many times. What was he thinking, as I tossed my hair over my shoulder in my usual way? Would he like to touch my hair? Stroke it? Or cut it off? All of which ideas appealed to me, believe it or not. While I’ve always had long hair, my fantasy has been to meet a man who demands I wear my hair short. Secretly I’d love to have it all cut off; the reality is, I’m scared to do it alone.

Scared, you sneer. Yeah, right. Philippa Anderson, rising young corporate star, immaculate and assertive from the top of her Pantene head to her elegant Bruno Magli shoes – scared to have her hair cut!

Oh yes, scared and delighted at the idea, I assure you. Scared and delighted enough to lie in my bed at nights and tremble at the thought of scissors slicing through my locks, the cold steel touching the skin of my neck. Yes, one day I MUST do it, I must find the courage to walk into a salon and get it all cut in one visit. Not for me the tentative "little bit at a time" stuff of long hair becoming short over months. No, when mine goes, it will be dramatic.

I was sitting in an Italian restaurant in Harrogate with Mike. We’d just started on our fifth project together and I was feeling comfortable enough with him to unbend a bit. I got stuck into the Barolo, enjoying the warmth of the alcohol suffusing through my veins and unwinding me after the always-difficult first day of meeting the client.

It was almost my first anniversary with the company, and lately I’d been gently nudging Mike about the possibility of my getting a promotion.

I decided to raise the issue again that night, even though I probably shouldn’t with the wine I’d drunk sloshing away inside me. "So, Mike, what DO I need to do to get promoted?" I pushed back my heavy hair. Somehow between the second and third glass of wine it had started hanging in my face.

Mike’s eyes swung away from the waitress with the short wedge haircut; I’d been watching him watch her. He frowned and looked like he was thinking hard. Mind you, he’d been into the Barolo too so thinking probably was a bit difficult for him, if I was anything to go by.

"Well, I attended a meeting about it last week," he said. "Er, the thing the company is looking for is the total quality professional."

I snorted. Oh dear, this sounded like Personnel-speak. Another incentive scheme – our company was full of them. "Oh really, and what does that mean?" I downed my wine and held up a lazy hand to the waiter, signalling for another drink. It appeared like magic as Mike went on. I took a polite sip and noticed my a few tendrils of my hair had managed to entangle themselves in my wine. Would it look obvious if I pushed them out? Or should I pretend they weren’t there and hope Mike wouldn’t notice? I opted for the latter and tried to make sense of what Mike was saying.

"Well it isn't just your technical abilities as they can be measured by appraisals and such like. It's other less tangible qualities. Assertiveness is one. Um, its also presence," he said.

"Who do I have to give presents to," I giggled. Oh dear, Personnel-speak was a bit much this late in the evening. "Would YOU like a present Mike?," I said suddenly, almost surprising myself as I noticed a husky tone appearing in my voice almost of its own volition. Dear Mike, his forehead all rumpled up with concentration as he tried to turn company talk into English. Dear Mike…who could so easily become so much more than just a workmate. In the dim lighting of the Italian restaurant I noticed for the first time just how attractive he was.

Mike took a deep breath, obviously choosing to ignore my obvious come-on. "And appearance."

Rebuffed, I sat back in my chair and absently removed my hair from my wine and sucked it dry. I was wearing designer jeans and a white top. Nothing fancy, but certainly a lot smarter than most of Harrogate had chosen to go out wearing that night. "No problem, I'm always smart and pwesta- ... and presetab- ... and tidy," I slurred, thinking myself an idiot for trying to ask Mike out – or preferably up to my room.

"Yesss," he said non-committally, while giving me an appraising stare which finally settled on my hair.

"What?" I asked, noticing I’d spilt wine on my top. Bugger! I pulled my hair over it and hoped it wasn’t obvious. "Look, I'm not at work now, I can wear what I like!" Mike didn't say a word, just stared. "What?" I repeated.

"Well Philippa, it's your hair," he said, "Do you always wear it loose like that?"

I caught my breath. My hair, eh? My long, loose, non-corporate hair. I’d noticed other women in the firm wore their hair tied back or up quite a lot. Or quite often in a nice polite bob somewhere between chin and shoulders. "Yes I like it loose. It's nice. Men- I mean everyone seems to like it that way including me," I lied, my fantasy flicking through my head again. Me in a salon, the scissors poised at my nape. "So, what of it?"

"Well, it's a bit, well, you know ... I mean couldn't you wear it up or something?" Mike was fumbling, playing with his napkin and turning it into bolognaise-covered origami. Like many men, when it came to very personal issues he was a little lost for words.

I decided to tease him a bit. I put down my nearly empty glass and gathered all my hair into a great thick ponytail on her crown. "Like this you mean," I said swinging it from side to side. "Like a little schoolgirl," I mocked. "Shall I wear ribbons as well?" I made my eyes all wide and blinked a few times.

"Well no, I was more thinking of some sort of bun thing. You know ... sort of classy," he stammered.

I let my hair drop and glared at him. "Mike, I am neither a librarian or a granny. A BUN indeed!"

Mike then said, very carefully, as if he’d been hedging around the idea for a long time. "Or you could have it cut perhaps?"

"CUT!" I almost shouted. Oh, you have no idea of my feelings here, Mike! What a thrilling, terrifying thought! What a happy, wonderful, thought! But I had to act outraged, as any woman would who had long hair and was being confronted by someone suggesting she cut it off.

"Yes, something like that waitress's hair for example," he said, pointing to the waitress he’d been secretly glancing at all night. "That's a very smart style. And it wouldn't fall in your wine."

I guiltily pushed my hair back. He HAD noticed! I looked at the waitress, though. Her back was towards us and her hair, the same thick shiny brown as mine, was cut in a glossy wedge. It ended below the bottom of her ear, curving onto her cheek and arcing upwards at the back so it was halfway up the back of her head in a beautifully-cut, weighted wedge. Underneath the wedge her hair had been shorn quite close, a neat little velvety pelt that did peculiar things to the pit of my stomach as I imagined my own hair looking like that. It was a gorgeous style, a delectable cut that would probably suit me.

I could feel Mike’s eyes on me as I gazed at the waitress. She turned at that point and I saw the haircut was in fact asymmetrical, with the other side cut shorter and tucked behind one ear. I almost gasped but managed to both control myself and catch the waitress’s attention at the same time.

When I’d recovered enough from admiring the lovely haircut, I said quietly, "It’s extremely short, Mike." I couldn’t speak any louder as I was afraid my voice would come out squeaky and excited. To match the rest of me. "Excuse me, I need to go to the loo."

I rushed to the Ladies’ and looked at my flushed face and red cheeks. Dumping my Chanel bag on the counter, I pulled back one side of my hair to a severe slickness, and arranged the other so it looked like I had it cut in the short asymmetric wedge. I tucked up the back so my neck was bare. Oh yes! Yes! I felt myself trembling and aroused all over, and rushed into the nearest cubicle to relieve myself in a way that the cubicle probably wasn’t intended for. I came in a gasping, silent rush, and felt much more composed afterwards, composed enough to be able to talk normally, anyway.

As I returned to the table Mike was paying the bill and the waitress was hovering over him, her sleek nape looking admirably touchable. I tried not to look at her hair, but at her face, and was mildly surprised when my words came out all self-assured and matter-of-fact. "My friend and I couldn't help admiring your haircut earlier," I said to her.

The waitress looked at Mike and smiled. "Yes I know," she said simply, surprising, I think, both of us.

"We think it looks very nice don't we Mike?" I watched my companion squirm just a tiny bit. Oh yes, Mike was definitely a Hair Man and he didn’t want anyone else finding out. I teased him a little longer, chatting to the waitress "It's very short!" I said conversationally.

"Thank you. Yes," the waitress said. "Yes it is short." Well what else could she say?

"Mike thinks I should have mine cut like yours." I pushed my luxuriant locks back. They reached half way down the back of the chair, and the waitress’ eyes opened in surprise. "Do you get it done locally?" My heart thudded so loudly I was surprised Mike couldn’t hear it.

"Yes, at 'Eighth Wonder' off the high street. Just ask for Stephanie, and say Claudia sent you," she added and moved away as swiftly as she could. I think I’d made her feel a bit awkward, all that talk about hair when she was really there to talk about Osso Bucco and Penne Napoletana.

The cool night air sobered me up somewhat as we walked back to our hotel. Had I gone overboard in the personal department, talking to my workmate about my hair? Worse still, was Mike offended that I had made a pass at him?

I said goodnight to him swiftly in the foyer, resisting the urge to plant a kiss on his mouth and drag him up to the penthouse with me. (I’d managed to get a room upgrade; I’m quite good at that, I just get pleasantly assertive and masterful with the reception staff where ever I go). Instead, I went to the top floor alone, still troubled and embarrassed.

* * *

I spent a sleepless night, tossing and turning and churning. Wondering if I’d blown my chances of promotion by drinking too much and hitting on Mike. Wondering if I had the guts to get my hair cut off. When I got out of bed the next day I felt drained and mildly hungover. The hangover could have been a lot worse; I think my restlessness helped the alcohol leave my system.

I washed my hair and scraped back all the hair around my face, anchoring it firmly at the back of my head in a ponytail. I certainly didn’t want it dipping in the coffee over breakfast! Letting it dry naturally while I scanned the newspaper and drank a first fragrant cup of Earl Grey Tea, I came to a decision.

"I’ll go down to breakfast. If I’m there first, I’ll get my hair cut. If Mike’s there first, I won’t." What silly games we play to amuse ourselves, I chided myself as the lift set me down at the dining room. But this was an important game. It concerned my future with the company, and possibly with Mike as well.

I scanned the dining room – no Mike - and asked the staff if Mike had already eaten. He hadn’t. I was first there. My hair, according to my own silly game, was destined for the floor of Eighth Wonder. I gulped. I felt too sick and excited inside at the thought to eat any breakfast, but forced myself to sip a cup of coffee with a shaking hand.

We didn’t have a client meeting until the afternoon, which left the morning free for paperwork and …er…haircuts. I switched on my mobile phone, ignoring the barrage of messages waiting for me, and made a very important, if quick, call.

I didn’t notice Mike arrive at the table, my thoughts were too full of the idea of scissors sawing through my hair. So I jumped a little when his voice materialised beside me.

"Good morning Philippa, how's the head?" he said.

"Oh fine. Yes, fine thanks," I smiled. Should I apologise for last night, or, like many other faux pas, pretend I’d done nothing wrong? I could see Mike was fighting with the same dilemma.

"Look, Philippa -" he began to say, but I interrupted.

"Mike, we're not meeting the client until this afternoon. Right?" Mike nodded. I continued in the steadiest voice I could find. "Good. Well, I have given some thought to what you were saying last. In fact I've no thought about much else. The total quality thing and all that."

"Yes, I -" he stuttered, but I didn’t give him a chance to speak.

"So I have made an appointment for 11.00 to have my hair cut at this 'Eighth Wonder' place. With Stephanie. Will that be OK?" I asked. I remembered the "reason" I was going to get my hair cut at the last second. "I REALLY want this promotion," I added, as if I didn’t know that a mere haircut was not a guarantee of an upward corporate spiral. Really, what company would promote a women simply because she lopped her hair short? None that I could think of. It was a pitiful excuse but the only way I could find the guts to make my fantasy become reality. Now I’d said it, I was scared.

"Yes, that'll be fine. If that's what you want," Mike said shortly, and read the breakfast menu with deep concentration.

I started to push my hair away and realised it was tied back. Feeling stupid, I fumbled my coffee to my lips. Deliberately I changed the subject and we spoke about work until it was time to check out of the hotel. Once we’d loaded up Mike’s car, I couldn’t really stall any longer. It was 10.30.

"Well, er, I guess I better get along to see if 'Eighth Wonder' lives up to its name," I announced nervously. Mike nodded, but he looked a little downcast. I thought of the way he’d studied our waitress’ shorn nape the night before. What if….what if I let him watch my transformation? It would give me the fortitude I needed to go through with the haircut – with Mike watching I couldn’t back out, even if I wanted to. My corporate morals wouldn’t let me! And I had a hunch he’d rather enjoy watching my hair get lopped. I took a deep breath. "Look, I know this sounds a bit odd but would you come along with me? To the salon I mean. It's just -".

"OK," Mike said simply. "No problem." Which was precisely what I’d expected him to say.

We found Eighth Wonder in a tiny lane off the High Street. Stepping into the blue and white salon was like stepping into a salon somewhere in France. Except I doubted that the elegant and chic French women would be confronted with a line of antique barbers’ chairs for their contoured behinds to perch on while their locks were attended to. I gulped as I looked at the chairs. So masculine in this feminine, antique-furnished place. I’d never imagined sitting in a barber’s chair for a haircut. Not outside my rampant fantasies.

The salon was empty except for a tall woman with a severe black crewcut. "Hello. I'm Steph. You must be Philippa," she stated. I nodded "Let me take your jacket." She did so and, without another word, led me to one of the chairs and indicated I should sit down. I felt naked without my jacket and rather awkward as I clambered onto the chair.

Stephanie told Mike to sit down somewhere – in one of the chairs would be fine – as he was standing around awkwardly and "making the place look untidy."

"So, Claudia sent you along did she. That sounds like our Claudia! I haven't seen her for two or three weeks. She must be due for a trim." Due for a trim! I thought of that immaculate haircut, sitting so perfectly on Claudia’s head. Why, how often did she have a trim then? Every week? Ruminating on this I felt Stephanie’s fingers running through my hair. She lifted up the daft little ponytail keeping my hair off my face and regarded it distastefully.

"Right!" she suddenly said, gazing in to the mirror and placing both palms on my slicked back hair. "What are we going to do with your hair today?"

My voice deserted me. Here it was, the moment I’d been waiting for years, the chance to say "Cut it all off!" with a dramatic flourish of my hand, flicking back my locks for the last time. I opened my mouth but nothing came out. My hand didn’t seem to want to work either.

On the other hand, Mike’s voicebox worked very well indeed. "Well Philippa really admired Claudia's haircut," he said.

"Did you really Philippa? Well, that's no problem at all." Stephanie pumped at the chair, flicked open a cape and fitted it securely around my neck.

"Well, er , yes Mike's right but... Steph, that is -" I mumbled, momentarily losing my nerve and about to say, "I don’t want it quite that short.", but not saying anything at all.

"Or would you prefer something more like mine?" Stephanie ran a hand over her buzzed skull, smiling broadly.

"NO!" I exclaimed. Well, not yet anyway! Let me get used having short hair first! "Like Claudia's but perhaps not so -" I started to say, meaning to add "asymmetrical" to the end of the sentence, but Steph was on a roll and apparently only heard what she wanted.

"Excellent! Well the way you have styled your hair this morning is almost perfect. We’ll leave this silly little ponytail to one side for a moment and clipper all the rest away. Then I'll style the top. Great stuff. I may even be able to give you a discount for saving me time." My stomach churned over. I didn't know what to say. "Don't worry, just kidding," Stephanie added after a slight pause, noticing my horrified expression. Horrified because I didn’t want this wonderful occasion to go by TOO quickly!!! A girl like me only gets almost three feet of hair cut short once or twice in her life, and it should be an event to savour.

I felt her start to section my hair, fastening most of it up in a clip but letting the hair around my head at top-of-ear level hang down. This was it, then. Almost the point of no return. I stared at my reflection, my stomach full of butterflies, and wondered when and where the first cut would come.

"Right let's get cutting," announced Stephanie. As she picked up her scissors, my eyes widened. Without another word she launched the blades into a large hank of hair at the nape and chopped it off very close to the scalp, so close I could feel the cold steel on my skin. I almost jumped at the sound of my hair being crunched into so violently.

She held it up so we could all see it. "Phew, over three feet long! You must have had it for years, poor thing. You'll be glad to be rid of it all I'm sure." I didn’t dare speak, so afraid I’d agree with her with a whole-heartedness that Mike didn’t expect. "Not that HE will of course. Men! I expect your boyfriend's been telling you not to cut if for ages. Here, a little memento for you." She thrust the cut off hair into Mike’s hands and he squirmed awkwardly. But he held the lengths of my now-useless hair on his lap, staring at it with almost wonder on his face.

"Hey this is really cool," Steph said. "I really do enjoy chopping off long hair." As I enjoy having it chopped, I agreed silently, still not quite able to believe that my neck felt so cold because my hair had, simply, GONE. Been cut off.

I was busily contemplating my naked neck and didn’t notice Stephanie come in for the kill again until the scissors flashed and cut off the rest of my non-sectioned hair close to my hairline.

"So you want it like Claudia's do you?" she asked, plugging in the clippers. Clippers! Now THERE was a fantasy come true! I’d never dreamed that a woman’s hair stylist would shear off my hair with electric clippers. I wondered if it would hurt or pull or tug. I nodded at her question. "Like it was when it was freshly cut of course," Stephanie continued. I nodded again. Well of bloody course I did! What did I want, a half grown out haircut somewhere down my back? No, this was a momentous occasion, The Pruning of Philippa, and it had to look short and fresh. Steph did something with the clippers – I couldn’t see what – and turned them on. "Good Girl." A pause. "Brave girl! Head down please," she requested, placing a hand on my crown for good measure and easing it forward.

I could scarcely breathe. I was only aware of the steady hum of the clippers as they moved closer to my nape. Then I felt a cold shock as the blades icily nuzzled my skin and moved into my hair. Heavens! What an experience! The clippers’ note changed to a growl as they encountered my hair, but smoothly they tickled their way up my nape and sheared it off. I had no idea how short they were cutting it, but the experience was every bit as wild and wonderful as my fantasies. This was real, this was happening! I was sitting in a salon having my long hair cut short, and by clippers at that! I hid a private smile as I focussed on my knees and the locks of hair that were falling onto them. Afraid my smile would give me away, I bit my lip.

Sadly Steph turned the clippers off and let the sectioned hair free. It felt silky against my clippered nape, warm and almost alien. Quickly - too quickly - she picked up her scissors and began to snip off the rest of my long hair into a bob shape. Oh, the bliss as all that heavy length dropped to the ground or my knees. As impassively as I could, I watched in the mirror as I went from long-haired to short in a matter of a minute or two.

Steph sprayed water on my hair and I felt her attacking the back, obviously cutting it into the heavy, stacked wedge shape. Her scissors and comb felt a long way up the back of my head. Inches above my hairline. I felt little snippets of hair land on my neck, cold and wet. Again and again the comb and scissors flowed through my hair until Steph deemed the back to be perfect. At least she must have. She’d stopped talking and was concentrating on cutting my hair.

Now she was at the side, and cutting it so it barely sat halfway down my ear. More and more hair dropped onto my cape. This must be the side I would brush behind my ear, then. With joy I watched my new style take shape. Steph moved to the other side and cut it longer, so expertly that it swung elegantly onto my cheeks of its own accord.

I don’t know how long the actual cutting lasted, but it was over far too quickly. Steph grabbed a brush and blowdrier, and began to style my hair. How odd it felt, that warm air blowing on my shorn nape! And how odd too, to feel the brush stop abruptly because the hair was now so short all over my head. My scalp felt tight and funny, as if it too were getting used to the notion of no more long hair. Finally Steph undid the cape.

Oh, what a vision! I looked SOOOO chic, with my red business suit, my long, hitherto hidden neck and my new crowning glory of the glossy wedge. I grinned at my reflection. Stephanie came behind me with a hand mirror and I glanced into it, expecting to see the velvet pelt of Claudia gracing my nape.

Instead, my nape had been shaved to the skin, shaved to stubble, shaved to a five o’clock shadow. The wedge sat beautifully above naked skin. It was so sharp, so erotic, and so not what I’d actually expected that I gasped.

Steph laughed. "Short, isn’t it!?"

"Yes. Very!" I agreed, my heart thudding all over again as I examined my shorn neck in the mirror. But," I began and stopped. I was going to ask her to shave my nape completely with a razor, then decided not to. The soft stubble gave just a hint of hair growth; completely shaved to shiny skin would have perhaps been too harsh. "You have cut it beautifully Steph. Absolutely beautifully," I said genuinely. "I couldn't be more delighted. Thanks so much."

"And what do you think then?" Stephanie asked, looking at Mike. Mike! I’d almost forgotten! Oh, how I’d have loved to have watched him watching me get my nape clippered!

"It's ... well, it's ... wonderful, Stephanie. Absolutely wonderful," he said, fumbling in that lovely male way of his. His eyes didn’t leave my head, they travelled over my new wedge time and again.

Stephanie hesitated and then said to me, "Philippa, hang on to this one, do you know I think he actually likes short-haired women."

Mike’s eyes finally met mine. I couldn’t hold back a smile any longer, and his face relaxed into the grin I knew so well. Finally I looked away to collect my jacket, and pay. The moment where I could have said something, something in recognition of Mike’s liking of short-haired women, had passed.

We walked out of the salon and I shuddered at the first nip of cool air on my neck. Better get used to it, I told my neck, ‘cos my hair isn’t going to grow long. Ever again.

* * *

I got the promotion. Deep down I knew my haircut probably had nothing to do with it, but who cares? The haircut was an experience I’d treasure forever!

I couldn’t keep my hands off my nape, noticing day by day how much the tiny hairs grew. I caressed it absently one night at home as I flicked around the Internet and wound up on my perennial favourite, the Haircut Story Archive. This had been the stuff of my fantasies for years. Now I had the reality to remember!

Glancing through the New Stories, I stopped breathing. My God! This story by Nape Shearer…was about ... me! My haircut! Only one person could have written it, and it wasn’t me and it wasn’t Stephanie.

I opened up Hotmail, and began to type.

Hello Mr NapeShearer,

Or should that be Mike LOL! I read your story - my story - on the haircut story archive last night. It is incredibly well written - it made me feel as if I was really there ... which of course I was! LOL!!

But then I think all your stories are wonderful. I've been a great fan of NapeShearer's stories for ages. But I have to say, I had no idea you shared my interest (in real life!) until the moment I started reading 'my' story. I was as gobsmacked as you probably are now. It seems you are as good at keeping your interest under wraps (or capes!) as I am, and even with the gross provocation of Eighth Wonder and the wonderful Stephanie.

Don't worry your 'secret' is safe with me, as I know mine is with you. You've helped me live out my wildest fantasy and it would never have happened without your support. Knowingly or otherwise!

I'm still coming to terms with this amazing coincidence. but I hope you don't mind me saying that I would love to spend some time with you so we can discuss our mutual interest. Please say yes? Besides I have a nape that's going to need shearing very soon and you seem extremely well qualified to do the job. And perhaps there'll be another story!

As I say don't worry. This is going to be fun!

My very best wishes,

Barber Ella (or, to you, Philippa)

 

There! That should break the ice between us forever! I fondled my growing nape and wondered what his reaction would be.

Then a little imp got hold of me. What if….what if…. Stephanie also read the story? What would her reaction be? I laughed out loud. Oh dear, couldn’t I wind Mike up good and proper! Maybe one day I’d tell him it was a windup, one day when he’d clipped my nape for, oh, the twentieth time, perhaps.

Swiftly I established a new, different Hotmail account, and still giggling, began to type ...

NapeShearer

My name is Stephanie and I work as a stylist in Harrogate. I am extremely concerned by the thinly disguised references to my salon in the story you have just written and intend to consider legal action. I believe you, Mike, and your friend Philippa work for ...

 

 

The End

 

© Copyright 2001, Sabrina S and Sean O’Hare. Comments welcome to sabrina.s@zdnetonebox.com and psharp55@altavista.com