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My True Hairdressing Life: An Old Time English Apprenticeship, Teasy Weasy and Sassoon
We Name A New Hairstyle For A Competition.
So there I stood in 1958, a 15 years old boy I had signed a formal indenture of apprenticeship to become a Ladies Hairdresser. I knew that I had to get a job that was slightly different. Yes, in those days without qualifications the school leaving age was 15. A year earlier I overheard two woodwork masters talking. One said ' I dont know why we do it, they're only industrial fodder ' I didn't forget those words and even today I can still here the words and tone of that masters voice.
My Choice Of Jobs.
I told my parents about this on leaving school and we decided to find a job with a future. Three jobs were decided upon from which I might choose. A Ladies Hairdresser, A Florist, or an Undertakers Assistant! We felt there would be security of employment with any of these. The decision having been made my Father, my Employer and myself all signed on the dotted line. I would work hard and dilligently and my employer would teach me the hairdressing trade. In those days there was a three year apprenticeship followed by two years as an improver. An improver was well able to to carry out salon skills, but until two years had passed you were not considered to be fully qualified. Needless to say you were not paid the top rate of pay until you attained that status.
During my apprenticeship there was great excitement when my employer decided to enter the salon into a competition to devise a new hair style. There was to be a silver cup for the winning salon, with all proceeds going to charity. Competing was a common event for us but this competition was for apprentices only. We were in Manchester and the competition was to be held in Leeds. Both of these cities are based in the North West of England. They are divided by a small mountain range known as The Pennines.
During a training day the apprentices were asked to provide a name for our new style, nobody came up with anything and there was a desperate silence. The boss asked again still no reply. A suburb of Manchester is called Chorlton-cum-Hardy, suddenly it came to me ' How about the Chorlton Twist ' I said. The boss looked at me and said ' Absolutely not that sounds vulgar ' needless to say I was disappointed with his reply. Nobody else said anything and the training session passed.
The Day Of The Competition.
Well the day of the competition arrived, one of the other apprentices had been chosen to set and dress the style for the competition. Before leaving the salon with all five of the apprentices, the boss told us the name he had chosen for the new style, it was to be called ' The Pennine Swirl ' inspired of course by the mountains over which we would drive to the venue in Leeds. We all said how good it was and yes, I thought it was better than my own effort. After a full day of competition we came second out of twenty five competitors. Although not first we felt we had done a good job.
The Boss Was A Genuine True Gentleman.
Just before setting off for home we were gathered together for a chat, the boss thanked everybody for their help and contributions at whatever level. Then he singled me out for having suggested a name for the style. He said I had used my initiative and tried to provide a solution to a problem when it arose. He then presented a beautiful pair of Gold Plated Hairdressing Scissors to the young lady who had dressed the style on stage. He then presented me with a pair of the highest quality Steel Hairdressing Scissors. Both presentations were for effort provided in differrent ways toward the project. Following this we were taken to a Restaurant for Dinner. Then our two car convoy set off home, everybody greatly pleased with the day and evening. I sat in the front of the boss's car luxuriating in the leather seating of his pink and white Vauxhall Cresta - Happy memories of such happy times.
As Time Passed.
I met my wife Pauline whilst doing my apprenticeship. We later married and eventually went on to own four hairdressing Salons. Not all at once however. Many young hairdressers worked with us over the years and some completed formal apprenticeships with us. I remember being at a London function where Pauline and I were introduced to Mr. 'Teasy Weasy' Raymond, at the same time as Vidal Sassoon, all chatting over a coffee. We met Vidal sassoon several times at different shows or functions. Although he did not know our names, we always received a nod of recognition. I have to admit that it always made our day.
Mr Teasy Weasy Raymond.
Before Sassoon, before the Galvins, before Leonard and so many others was Peter Carlo Raymond, ( though sometimes the names differ). He was the first to have his own hairdressing TV show and several salons al using the name Raymond. He was a true professional who demanded the very best from his talented staff. He was an extrovert for those times, a showman and a gentleman. I remember he had three daughters; their names were Cherry, Amber and Scarlett. Whether this was true or a little extra showmanship I don't know.
The photograph at the top shows Raymond in later years, the photograph below shows him in his prime. At the very top of the business.
A hairdressers story. Books
© 2012 Graham Lee