A Visit from Miss Protheroe ... the Movie
A small barbershop somewhere in London.
The barber, Sharon, is a woman in her early 30s, dressed in white
jeans and a skimpy black top. She has long blonde hair,
worn loose. Her client, the only other person in the shop,
is a businessman - a little older - with longish, boring hair.
He is in the chair, gowned, and looks nervous. She picks up her clippers and
is smiling as she fits a number 2 guard to her clippers
Sharon: You'll thank me for allowing me to persuade you to get rid of all
this hair, Mr Blake.
Mr Blake: I guess so, but I ...
<the clippers are turned on and moved from the nape to the forehead>
Sharon: Crewcuts are sooooo cool!
<she continues to clip, smiling>
Voiceover: My name is Sharon, I work in a small barbershop in London.
Each Monday we are quiet and Gareth, the owner, and I take it in turns to have
the day off. This week I am expecting a special client. I posted a
message on the internet offering free haircuts. I know it sounds
strange but I have what is known as a hair fetish. Let me continue.
I trained as a stylist but found that I preferred haircutting to perming and colouring, and
cutting short styles in particular. I quite enjoyed cutting women's hair but
I found that on a day-to-day basis there were few opportunities to for
precise cutting and so I decided to join Gareth a few months ago.
I wondered if any women clients would venture in but of course
none ever entered our rather traditional barbershop. So I thought
I would try a little advertising.
Last week I received an e-mail too from a woman in London who said she was thinking
of changing her hairstyle
and, once she learnt I worked a barbershop, she seemed even keener on
paying me a visit. We hadn't discussed styles in detail but she clearly
has a very strong interest in hair and sounds quite adventurous. And the offer
of a free haircut was clearly tempting.
So I'm expecting
I have built up this picture of a young, rather adventurous woman,
perhaps a student or working in a fashionable clothes store.
She mentioned her hair was quite long and I imagine it to
be straight and hanging down to the shoulders. I expect her to be wearing
casual clothes - jeans probably, and a T-shirt.
So at 6pm today, after my usual closing time for a Tuesday, one rather adventurous
young lady would be visiting me. Miss Janet Protheroe.
It is 5.15 and I have just started my final client of the day and we are the only
two in the shop. Jim, the stylist who works for me, has had today off.
Mr Blake, a regular client in his 30s, is in the chair having his regular
As I began to move the clippers up his neck the door opens and a tall, elegant woman
of a similar age to Mr Blake marches in. She stands for a few seconds, clearly taking in the
environment. Presumably Mrs Blake. The only women to enter my shop are
wives and girlfriends.
Her glossy black hair is tightly pulled back from the hairline, and is swept up
into an elegant updo. She is wearing a smart black and white, checked suit - the skirt
at least 6 inches above the knee, the jacket tightly pinched in at the waist and
covering a simple and barely visible black, silk top. An expensive loop of
large pearls circles her neck, and a lot of gold hangs from her wrists, her ears
and on her fingers
She smiles, says nothing and moves to the leather armchair against the back wall.
I have tried for the traditional look, but placed in a modern setting. So there
is a lot of wood and leather, but plenty of plants to soften the look. Of course
I have installed traditional barbers chairs.
She says nothing and hence she must be waiting for her husband. She perches
herself on the chair, crosses her legs and demurely pulls down the hem of her skirt
although this does little to hide the long, thin legs that emerge.
I return my concentration from this attractive, but rather mature woman (at least
for me!) to her husband and continue clippering the back of his head.
A few minutes later I look up. The woman remains in the same position. Her gaze is
fixed on her husband, or more precisely his hair as I prepared to shave his hairline.
Mr Blake also notices. Our return of her gaze is met with a disarmingly powerful
smile - we both smile back although I feel unaccountably flustered and quickly
return to the task in hand.
However I can not help the occasional glance, and notice her position is unchanged and
her gaze is unmoved as if she is trying to take everything in.
Ten minutes later, and I have finished Mr Blake's hair. I remove the cape, ensuring
all the fine clippings are dusted from his face and neck. We walk over to the till
where he pays, giving me the usual generous tip, and I help him on with his suit
And then surprisingly he begins to walk towards to the door, without a backward
glance towards his wife. My gaze switches from one to the other, as if I was
watching tennis at Wimbledon. The door opens. He leaves.
Unless Mr Blake is particularly forgetful I guess this woman isn't his wife!
But she's been here nearly half an hour, Janet will be here in 10 minutes and I
do want to tidy up and get ready. What does she want and why has she not said
anything. I'm feeling puzzled and a little frustrated too. I don't want to be
rude, but ...
"Protheroe!". The woman has jumped and marched towards me, holding out her
hand. I'm feeling startled by the sudden movement. "Miss Janet Protheroe".
We shake hands. Her grip is cool and firm. Then suddenly WHAT she said
sinks in. "I believe you were expecting me Mr James". Expecting her?
"Oh, er, yes". Er, no I was expecting someone a little younger actually.
I feel it would be unwise to voice this opinion. "Er, hello, Miss Protheroe".
She releases her grip and we stand facing each other. She looks very
confident. I'm tall, but she's a little taller. So her head, and more
particularly her piercing grey eyes, are cast down slightly - almost
"Well Mr James, where would you like me?". I gulp. Why do I feel so nervous -
or should that be intimidated? "Here?", she asks pointing to my chair. I see
the cut hair from my previous client - I haven't swept up yet - and indicate
We walk the short distance and she lowers herself elegantly into the barbers
chair as if it is something she has done frequently. But looking at her clothes,
her hairstyle, her whole manner I realise she hasn't. I also now realise that
this has been a set up of some kind. She clearly isn't going to want me - a barber -
touching her smart hair. She leans back, her arms on those of the chair, adjusting
her position as if she is trying out new furniture for her home.
"Gosh, this is rather comfortable isn't it. I always feel they look so cold
and uninviting, don't you? Not that I've ever sat in one before. Yes, most
satisfactory". She launches that smile at me once more as she catches my eye in
the mirror. I still feel somewhat surprised by the turn of events. I nod and
smile back. But I feel a little lost as to what to do or say next.
I decide to raise the chair a little. "Ooo, gosh, that's nice. Are you trying to make it
difficult for me to run away?".
"Er ... no". Well, what was I supposed to say!
"Just teasing Mr James". She moves her right hand to smooth a non-existent unruly
hair on her hairline - I'm sure none of her hairs have ever had the nerve to be
unruly - and she then pats the elegant knot at her crown. "Now" - her voice has
become crisp and business-like but the smile remains on her face - "I believe
you intend to cut my hair young man". I nod. "So, would you care to start?".
"Yes, of course Miss Protheroe". Feeling on slightly firmer ground now - after
all she's now just a client - I kid myself! - I ask her if I can take her jacket.
She slips it off revealing the simple black top which barely covers all it needs to. It
is supported by two extremely thin straps and her smooth, white shoulders and much of
her back is laid bare. She fingers the pearls which now lie on her long, elegant neck.
"May I take down your hair?".
"Please do. But I wonder if I might ask a little favour". She retrieves her handbag which
she has placed on the counter before us, and removes a small camera. "I wonder if you
would take some photographs as we proceed".
I had wondered about this earlier. Asking if I could take photos, or even setting up
a video camera. But I felt a little uncomfortable it. Now here she was asking.
"No problem, Miss Protheroe. I will be happy to".
I'm no David Bailey but not too bad a snapshooter - at least I don't have trees growing
out of people's heads ... well not too often. I take in the controls, switch on the
flash and take several shots from different angles. I place the camera on the counter.
I now stand behind her and study her hairstyle to work out where all the grips and
assorted ironmongery would be hidden to hold up such an elegant style. I remember
doing these styles in the past and it was never a particular favourite of mine.
At this stage it is impossible to gauge the length of her hair in this style but,
given her age (with apologies to all out there of a similar age or older) and the excellent
condition it appeared to be in I assume it would not be all that long.
I identify a couple of large clips which I reach in and snap open. And I am
amazed as wave after wave of hair seems to tumble down as I remove these solitary
fastenings. Instinctively I reach out to catch her hair as it is released.
I hear a little giggle - almost a schoolgirl giggle. "You don't need to catch
it. It's still attached ... well, at the moment". I look up and, unbelievably,
I look down and I am confronted by masses of thick, black, glossy hair covering the
her shoulders, the back of the chair and reaching halfway to the floor.
I am captivated by its appearance. Without really thinking I pick up a brush
and begin to smooth it through. I remember about starting from the ends but,
this hair is in such excellent condition, that it simply glides through from the crown
to the ends without obstruction.
I estimate it must be around 3 feet long - probably well past her waist if she was
standing - and as thick and healthy at the ends as the crown.
After a few minutes I return the brush to the counter and point questioningly to
the camera. She nods, so I shoot off a few more snaps - the same angles but she's
looking quite different. I can't decide if she looks younger with her hair loose.
Perhaps, just different. More like an actress of the same age, rather then the
businesswomen that she seems to be.
I step back a little. "You have very beautiful hair Miss Protheroe". Well it is true ...
and I can think of nothing else to say, as I just take a minute to admire it.
"Thank you. Yes I do". She lightly runs the long, blood red fingernails of
both hands through the crown hair. "And that's a problem".
"Really? It seems ...".
"It is just about perfect - I know that - but of course I can not wear it loose.
Not like this, can I".
I'm thinking, why not? It looks sensational - but perhaps it wouldn't be quite the
thing in the boardroom. And it's always been like that. "From pigtails at school,
to ponytails at college, to buns at work. I've always worn it that way. It only
takes minutes to style too - so much practice at putting up, you see - so I
can't use that as an excuse for a restyle and hence the problem"
"But, you can ...".
She clearly had something worked out in her mind and my interruptions weren't
part of the picture. "I will admit to you I've always had a thing about hair,
long hair in particular. Don't ask me to explain it. When I first got access
to the Internet I realised I wasn't alone and enjoyed talking about my hair,
talking to other about theirs and picking up hints and tips for hair care".
She had been talking quite fast and sounded a little breathless. "But then
I found some of the other sites - the short hair sites - and found I was
equally absorbed by them". I may be mistaken but her face seems to be colouring
a little. A small blush. "Talk of haircutting, the photos and video clips of
makeovers - it all seemed so different. A whole new world. And such fun. And
of course that's where I found you. So here I am". The elegant, confident,
no nonsense manner seems to have dropped a little. She has pulled a lock of her
over her shoulder and it passes over the black silk top and curls in her lap.
She fingers nervously.
"Indeed you are here". I had accepted that this
woman was nervous of change. She had no reason to change her hair - it
looked marvellous - but perhaps she wanted a change to fit in better with
her work appearance. From all she had said I realise that a lot of hair
may fall but she will want a lot still left - just past shoulder so she can
wear it loose, or perhaps a shoulder skimming bob - and I have resigned
myself to this. But it will still be enjoyable and make a pleasant break
from the mens styles I perform all day.
"So what can I do for you, Miss Protheroe?"
There was silence. She stares straight ahead. She still fingers the
lock of hair she has separated from the rest. I wonder if I has asked
the question as her expression has not changed.
Then I hear a little cough as she clears her throat. "Mr James I would like
you to cut off all my hair".
"Into a bob perhaps, or something a little longer".
"ALL my hair, Mr James. I wish you to cut off all this" - she places both
hands at her nape as she says this, and then flicks up all her hair and it falls
back precisely in the same position - "so that is short". She takes a deep breath
My turn to lose my voice. I cough. I try to sound cool and professional ...
detached. Fat chance! "Very well. If you are quite sure then I will be
pleased to". I still don't expect this to happen. And I'm not sure if I
want it to. She has such lovely hair.
"Excellent. Then please proceed".
I know she will stop me. I've played games on the Internet too!
But I begin to brush her hair once more, this time from a centre parting with as
much lying in front of her shoulders as down her back.
I reach down to the drawer under the counter and remove a case containing
my lesser used haircutting tools. I pick up the large pair of scissors that
I had so rarely used. They look new and shiny ... and very sharp.
I make sure this is all in Miss Protheroe's view. She watches each movement and
I hear her let out a little gasp as I test the scissors with a few sample
clicks. "Oh my! They look rather efficient".
"I shall use these to remove the bulk of your hair. They are very sharp and so
it shouldn't take too long, even to cut through such thick hair as you possess ...".
She looks composed still - a typical businesswomen I guess - but I can hear
her breathing and its rate seems to be increasing. "Or perhaps I should say
as you currently possess". She lets out the nervous little giggle once more.
I separate and lift a three inch chunk of hair and place the scissors just
above her shoulders. I didn't know how short she intended me to cut her hair -
if indeed she would let me cut it at all. I still feel this is some sort of game.
But if I did indeed it cut it, it wouldn't be too short to consider other
styling options when she saw the hair begin to fall.
I held myself in that position and looked enquiringly into the mirror.
She appeared almosty exasperated. "Mr James, did I not say I wanted it cut
"Yes, but I thought ...".
"Did you indeed. I see - 'you thought'. Rather than asking what I have
asked you to do. Please raise the scissors higher".
Under the force of her words the scissors almost seem to glide slowly
along the hair shaft. I expect her to say something as they make their
way closer to her scalp. But no they finally come to rest just above her
I feel her flinch slightly as the cool metal touches the top of her ear.
"Ooh, they are, er ...ooh". Her expression has changed slightly - a mix
of perhaps excitement, even a little fear ... I don't know really, it
is difficult to fathom.
I don't know whether to cut ... or not. Will she give me an indication?
She seemed to be almost revelling in the delay, various small changes
in her expression betraying a cocktail of emotion.
"I'm now going to cut your hair Miss Protheroe", I say with more
confidence than I really felt. I feel this is the end of the game.
"Please do Mr James". A short pause as she tries to breath in, although
she appears to be having difficulty. "I'm waiting".
Her piercing eyes stare back at me from the mirror.
"Will you please cut off my hair", she almost commands.
And the scissors close as if I have no control. Schnick! The hair which belongs on this
attractive woman's head, which looks as though it will be attached forever, is
now severed. I hold it in my hand and she reaches out for it. I expected her
expression to one of horror, but it is close to amazement. She takes the severed lock
and rests it over the bare knee of her crossed leg.
I am surprised - almost as much by her, apparently casual, reaction as by the
removal of a lifetime's growth of hair. At her age it is unlikely to grow to
such length again, and certainly not in such thickness and condition.
But I suspect her job has taught her to control her reactions. As she stares
down at the severed lock I detected a slight tremble course through her body.
And then she tried to speak "Mr James" came out almost as a squeak. She took
a deep breath, and tried again. "Mr James. Thank you, but you still have a
way to go. A photograph first perhaps?".
I comply and then lift the next lock from her temple. Her right ear is
temporarily exposed. Schnick! And now permanently exposed as the the severed
ends of the hair fall away. I hand it to her and again she takes it, adding it
to the first.
I pause again, unable to take in quite what is happening. She raises an eyebrow,
and I quickly take the next lock and snip it off. And several more follow.
Even though I am cutting to simply remove the bulk, the quality of her hair is
such that it falls into a neat bowl shaped bob - a precise line forming just
above her ear. All the hair brushed in front of her right shoulder
was now removed. I take another photo.
She smiles and I smile back, both conscious that neither has spoken for several
"How are you feeling Miss Protheroe. You appear quite relaxed".
"Somewhat nervous actually, but rather excited too. I've wanted to have my
hair cut short for some time, but I can't really believe it's happening.
That I'm sitting in a barbershop and a barber is chopping off all my hair.
I wonder if I am doing the right thing". She holds up the hair she
has collected in her lap. "It is so long and beautiful isn't it".
"Yes it is. You are certainly a very brave woman. I can't imagine many
other women so willing to risk their whole appearance by cutting off the
hair most women would die for!". I voiced what I was thinking and wonder
if I had gone too far.
She looks so incongruous there. I purposely hadn't covered her with a cape
during this stage of the operation, for purely selfish reasons. I wanted
to admire this woman, in her elegant formal clothes, as she gradually loses
her magnificent mane of glossy hair.
"Do you think so. Do you really think it is such a big risk. Oh dear".
As if she doesn't know! So, why would such a woman want her
hair cropped short.
"Don't worry. It will be fine". I rest a hand on her now bare shoulder
and she smiles back rather nervously.
I now move to the other side, lift the first lock and snip it off.
I lift the next. Schnick! And the next. Schnick! And soon her left
shoulder is bare also, and an enormous collection of hair has been
gathered on her knee. I notice she is carressing it and, that as she
does so, it moves rhythmically in her lap. She looks up a little
guiltily and I quickly avert my gaze, allowing her to do as she
wished without my observation. Although I use the opportunity to
take a few more photos.
I move behind her now and gather the mass of hair that still streams
down behind her. Held like that, it appears she sports a very short
bob. "Hmmm, looking good Miss Protheroe but there's still a lot of
hair to remove. I'll cut all this off in one go. The last of your
"Very well". I pull it taut and slide the scissors in at the nape and
attempt to close them. "Oooh, you are pulling rather hard". The hair is
so thick then it is difficult to cut.
"I'm sorry. If you would lean forward and keep your hair taut then it will
be come away much more easily". She complies, without a word. "Thank you".
I force the scissors closed and a few strands are severed. Again, and more
are cut. I feel her leaning forward and tugging against my grip. I sense
that she is a little uncomfortable - a slight grimace crosses her face but
this is mixed with a smile - almost a grin. She's enjoying this.
I continue to chop through this glossy black rope. I could do it quicker
perhaps but it is such an ususual sensation and she is clearly enjoying
it too that I take my time.
A final cut and her head jumps forward. "Ohhhhh", she exclaims. Her head
comes up and she looks in the mirror, "Oh, wow!". I hand her a ponytail
to match the hair collected on her lap. She grips the hair but runs her
other hand through the remnants of her hair. "Oh! Gosh! I've really
done it haven't I. Phew!".
"Well, you're getting there!". I take a comb and begin to run it
through roughly cut bob. I'm tempted to say that perhaps she should
go with a similar style but I was beginning to think shorter.
I section off the hair at the crown and comb down the hair at the
back and the sides from a parting a couple of inches above her ears.
I now pick up my heavy duty Oster
clippers and was adjust the blades. I could see that she had the
head shape and features to carry out many short styles. "Please hold these
while I place a cape around your neck".
The clippers look enormous in her small, long fingered hands. She
turned them over and appears to be admiring them, almost in awe.
"Will you be using these ... on me", she asked in a quiet voice.
"Oh yes, Miss Protheroe. The style I have in mind is very short
at the back and sides. All this will go". I pass my hand through the
hair at her neck. "Is that OK?".
"I ... I, er".
She sounds very unsure now. "Very well". I fix the cape securely
and hold out my hand. She returns the clippers. I turn them on
and place them at her nape.
"Oh, I say!", she exclaims.
As the clippers vibrate against her nape I wait. She appears frozen,
not wishing to move her head.
"Mmmm, I ... oh gosh". She is looking in the mirror and perhaps realises
that she could still walk away with a short style that would perhaps be
a little longer than I intended. Short, for sure, but elegant
to match her nature. "I ...".
"OK, I'll now shave your neck". I pause for a few seconds. She remains frozen.
Her eyes are wide, showing a little fear - the deer in the headlight look - trapped.
The bare blades of the clippers continue to vibrate.
I slowly ease the clippers up her neck. The even buzz of the clippers is replaced by
an uneven, popping sound as the clipper blades begin to chew her remaining hair.
I love these clippers - however thick the hair they remove it efficiently to the
desired length, even with this, the shortest, cutting head fitted. The path behind
the clippers was showing barely a hint of black stubble
"Ohhhh!". The clippers moved upto the curve of her smoothly shaped head.
"Gosh, that tickles!". She giggled. Did it, or was she just trying to
hide her feelings over what was happening.
As I flicked the clippers away a surprising amount of hair fell, some straight to the
floor and the rest onto her shoulders and slid down the cape.
A clean, bare path devoid of hair now sits at the back of her neck.
"Oh my! The cape was moving as the hair tumbled down. It was obvious her hands were moving,
still holding the cut length of hair. Her legs also seemed a little restless, almost in
a rocking motion.
Without further ado I make another pass of the clippers, easing them slowly past
the previous path. Again and again I slide the clippers until
the neck is bare. I now move to one side and place the clippers at her temple.
Her movements had slowed but as I ease the clippers up the side of her head
she sees the hair fall away and the white scalp showing through, and her movements
I move to the other side and steal a look in the mirror. Her eyes are partly closed
now and she seems to be in another world. It was clear to me that she would look
good with her hair short. But what will she think? What will her friends and family think?
What will they think at work? I got the feeling this matters little to a woman
brave enough to undergo this exercise in the first place.
She is clearly enjoying the sensation of the clippers. I
continue to use them long after there was no more hair to remove. It was obvious she
was getting off on this. And totally lost in it.
At an appropriate point - when her half closed eyes reopen and she looks up with a
little embarrassment - I turn off the clippers and turned away. There was a strange
silence in the air after the roar, whine and popping of the clippers.
Hair seemed to be everywhere although in reality this was only a small proportion
of what she started with. I release the hair at the crown which now seems long
by comparison. I dampen it down a little, with a spray and begin to layer it
through with scissors and comb, graduating the back and sides to a leave a
neat step just covering the clippered area.
The last of the long hair is her fringe. I comb it forward and it falls unevely
into her eyes, giving her a sultry sort of look. Something to hide behind.
She looks sort of enquiringly at me but says nothing.
I place my scissors on her eyebrows, but then slowly move them upwards.
Her eyes widen as they stop just short of the hairline. I allow myself
a small smile which she returns rather nervously. And then I close the
scissors and we both watch the last of her longer hair slide down her face
and bounce into the cape. I cut the fring almost to the hairline, leaving
a few slightly longer lengths to add interest.
The crown hair looks nice and neat, but rather heavy.
I feel it needs something more.
I begin lift sections and cut into them to texturise the hair. She looks
a little shocked at this - used to the sleek and smooth look - but as the
style begins to take shape her face relaxes a little.
Nothing had been said for some time but this didn't seem to matter to either
I now take the smaller edging clippers and begin to shave around the hairline,
around the ears. Her eyes go from wide open to almost closed. This new sensation is
clearly all she hoped it would be, as the smile forms on her face and seems
difficult for her to remove.
I turn the clippers off and, without a word, pull the cape away.
Rather, self-conciously, she attempts to pull down the hem of her
skirt which has ridden up a little. Sat on a leather chair, she has little succcess.
I stand behind her. Finished. After a short silence she says, softly "wow!".
"Yes, indeed. Wow!". No other words seem necessary. I take some more photos.
She gets up and I help her on with her jacket. There is some disparity between the
expensive clothes and accessories, and the extremely short hair that she now sports.
Surprisingly she looks much younger, and perhaps even more elegant. As she
has such a confident air and perfect posture, she doesn't look unusual with her
severe short back and sides. It was remarkable just how well it suited her.
She opened her bag and stuffed the camera and the long ponytail inside and removed
her purse. "Thank you Mr James. So what do I owe you?".
Momentarily flustered, I try to think. "Nothing Miss Protheroe. I offered a free
haircut", and was secretly hoping that I would like a few more replies to my message.
"Ah, yes you did. Well perhaps I could buy you a drink. If you've finished here".
I didn't need to think twice. "Well that would be rather nice. Shall we go".
I switch off the lights. The tidying up can wait until tomorrow. I shut the door and
we begin to walk through the precinct.
Heads seem to turn. Miss Protheroe attracts a lot of attention. And she clearly
A few minutes later we sit outside a cafe with a glass of red wine each. People stare
and she plays up to it by running those blood red fingernails over her temples and
down her nape.
Two young women at the next table seem particularly drawn. Both are very attractive and
more the type of woman I had been expecting earlier. One wears jeans, the other has a
short leather skirt. Both wear white T-shirts and denim jackets. The mini-skirted
woman has her mid-back hair in deep spiral curls - natural or permed isn't obvious but
her hair looks immaculate. Her friend has hair of a similar length - blonde and thick,
worn in two long braids. Curly says "We think your hair's really stunning.
Where do you get it cut?".
"No my companion here is the culprit. He owns the shop just along there
and I'm sure he would be happy to assist you in a trim ... or something more".
I feel a little uncomfortable about this woman talking so openly about me.
The two women stare at me and, almost as one, ask "When?"
"Well he could open again in 10 minutes if you are ready now. I think you
are ready aren't you". It wasn't a question. Those grey eyes were working on me once
Both women nod, and giggle a little and begin fingering each others hair, thinking
about their respective styles.
Before we return to my barbershop Miss Protheroe gives me a little peck on the cheek.
"Thank you so much for this. May I now come along and watch you? Perhaps assist you?".
"Of course you may. I would be so pleased if you did".
And we walk back to my shop, discussing possible styles for my next two clients.
[I hope you enjoyed this story. If you have any comments on this story or
ideas for future stories then please drop me a line at email@example.com]