Hair cuts, like taxi rides, are one of those scenarios I dislike because of the small talk, not because of the clichéd conversations – “booked your holiday yet?” or the multi-purpose “been busy?” – but because of the pressure I feel to avoid the clichés. It’s largely a function of mood, but I can usually be successful and have enjoyed speculative discussions on the finer points of animal husbandry (of which neither cutter or cuttee had any experience) and how much better the world would be if evolution hadn’t robbed our tails (we both agreed it would be a much better place).
But a subject that didn’t come up was the election. And thinking about to haircuts of the past, I can’t recall ever discussing politics, so I’m not sure why I even imagined the deficit might accompany a hairwash, or that expenses would be the obvious discussion while trimming my sideburns, or debate the merits of Osborne, Darling and Cable while ‘product’ was applied.
While in there I also flicked through a copy of GQ I was given as an additional insurance incase the conversation petered out. This in itself was interesting in its approach to politics, containing a few articles of a political bent each separated by a dozen or so pages of fashion adverts. But these were, frankly, not that illuminating and it almost seemed that the editorial team had gone out of their way to make them less attractive than the rest of the content; the longest article consisted of four or five pages of text with no illustration, a stark contrast with a magazine that relies heavily on accompanying visuals and perhaps a handy camouflage for the fact that the article didn’t actually say anything of any substance. Then again, I’m not the target market for magazines like GQ (I’ve bought one copy in my life, while at university in the mid-nineties, and that solely because it had a feature on Estelle Skornik).
So while I can ponder at the lack of impact the impending election is having on magazines and barbershop (I pretend I’m manly, but actually it was a stylist) discussion the fact is that I’m not really a normal person. This morning I was out in fairly poor weather delivering leaflets knowing that many will be binned unread and knowing that most of those that are read will be forgotten in days. This is not the behaviour of a normal person. The behaviour of a normal person involves having a proper job, not going out every night to a meeting at the town hall or some sort of campaigning. And it certainly doesn’t involve sacrificing weekends with the family to pace the halls, corridors and balconies of council estates.
The fact is most people, most of the time, are mostly disengaged from politics.
As someone who is very engaged in politics I’m really not sure what I think about this. Should everyone be deeply connected with the political process? Or, actually, is it a sign of a healthy democracy that most of the time people don’t need to care. I’m really not sure. But I do know I’m better for having had a haircut.