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Article: Berengaria

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    Berengaria

    21 Comments by Harry Nicholson Published on 3rd October 2018 02:55 PM
    I've just written a piece as homework for Egton Bridge Writers' Group. Theme: a visit to the hairdresser's. It is nautical, and mostly true.

    Berengaria.

    I peer through the window. The barber’s shop in York Road looks not too busy this Friday morning.
    ‘Excuse please’ -- that’s a voice at my elbow. ‘Which is best way back to dock?’ He’s Danish – I recognise the accent – probably a seaman. Platinum blond hair and thin beard.
    Directions are easy from here. ‘Turn right and straight down Church Street. All the way to the bottom, then turn left at The Shades pub. It’s a great spot for a beer.’
    ‘Thank you. I was there last night. Have headache today. Now I get lost doing shopping. You are seafarer, like me?’ says the Dane. He’s probably noticed my bridge coat; I should really have it cleaned since I spilled Guinness down the front. The Dane seems a decent sort.
    ‘Yes. Just enjoying a spot of leave after a long sweat in Calcutta.’
    He nods. ‘I like town. This West Hartlepool. I understand people. They speak like Dansk. In London, I can never tell what they say.’ He wanders off, and I think, ‘A pity – he’d be a good shipmate.’
    There are just two customers in the barber's. Heads are deep in papers, picking out horses. Acrid Woodbine smoke drifts around. From my rickety chair I admire the three barber thrones. They are stainless steel and white porcelain. Massive and imperious things with hydraulic mechanism; a bit out of place in this gritty town. On the porcelain base is the word, ‘Berengaria’, in ornate script. I’ve seen that name somewhere.
    The barber runs a lighted taper around the back of a chap’s scrawny neck. He's ordered a short-back-and-sides with a singe. I wrinkle my nose at the odour. The barber then rubs pomade into the fellow’s scalp; it’s fruity and ripe. Yuk!
    Soon, I settle into the capacious black leather embrace of a gorgeous chair. It feels like I'm in the arms of an Antwerp madame.
    ‘You’ve got a healthy tan, sir. Been to foreign parts?’
    ‘Yes, Liverpool to Calcutta and back, and sundry cess-pits in between.’
    The barber prattles on -- as they do. I get bored hearing about his week in Scarborough. ‘Tell me about Berengaria and how you came by this handsome chair.
    ‘Glad you like it, sir. You’ll have noticed we have three in a row. All from Cunard’s RMS Berengaria. The old boss bid for them when she was scrapped at Jarrow, back in 1939.'
    I enjoy the sensation of the warm electric clippers on the back of my neck. Just a gentle purr. So different to the blunt, hair-ripping-out, hand-operated clippers Dad used to torture me with. 'She was a three funnel liner, wasn’t she?'
    'That’s right, and about fifty-thousand tons. German. Began life in 1913 as the Imperator for Hamburg-Amerika Line. Four-thousand passengers and a thousand crew. Never ventured out of Hamburg 1914-1918. The Allies gave her to Cunard when the bloody affair was done. Renamed Berengaria.’
    'And who, or where, is Berengaria?’
    'Ah, well now. My mate has a full set of Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedia. So, I looked it up.' He stops snipping, to hold forth. ‘Berengaria, princess of Navarre, daughter of Sancho the Sixth, wed our King Richard the First, known as Lion-heart, whenever it was. Well before my time . . . fourteen hundred and summat.’
    Arthur Mee's! I smile to myself. That's where I’ve read of Berengaria, Princess of Navarre. I wonder what she looked like. I muse on a dark-eyed maid possessed of long, gracefully curved neck, who moves like a swan.
    As I pay the barber, he asks conspiratorially, ‘Anything for the weekend, sir?’

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Berengaria

    Hi Harry.
    Having been in many writing groups I loved that story, down to earth and typical of barbers all over, we have one here in Cooma.
    Cheers Des

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    # for speed in the ##on holiday in spain a good while ago i thought i would work a flanker and leave the kids with beloved while i shot of to the barbers and got a trim and a wet shave ......as used an electric razor for speedin the morning even shaving in the vehicle on the way to work ...the wet shave with the old cut thraot was always the best shave you can get .....finding a little barbers down a side street i saw the price for haircut and shave near a little bar where i thought i could duck in and have a few beers telling beloved the barbers was busy on my later return ...the shop was run by two brothers who were both speaking english .....the older one cut my hair and did a good job ......then for the shave .....theyounger brother whose hand i noticed shook a bit ..put on a good lather ...i of course was thenlaid far back in his non electric chair ......i told him leave the side burns they are ..mucho in fashino in engleterra.....starting off on the right side of my face he slid the razor across once then stopped and stood perfectly still ......his hand which was hovering over my chin ...awfully near my throat started to shake the razor of course was still in it ....loking up from my prone position i saw his eyes roll back and by this time i was flaping puts it mildly at the site ....he was now in a whole body shaking mode the razor flashing round my face and throat as i was laid back in the chair i had no escape .......suddenly the older brother ran across and put both arms round him ......shouting eleptico or similar word ......although i pride myself on never backing down from anything or anyone i leaped from the chair and while effing and blinding pushed them both out the way and leaped into the street throwing the covering sheet into the gutter ......to be laid back and have an epileptic guy having a fit over you is pretty worrying ......i shot into the bar and ordered a large cognac...the barman pointed out i still had the lather on my face ...eventually i went of to the beach and found beloved and the kids ...somehow i often had the thought ....if he wasnt having a epileptic fit what a bloody laugh they must have had watching the sheer fear of me unable to move while he waved the razor round my throat and face ....cappy never had a wet shave since

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    Default Re: Berengaria

    best laugh I have had for ages, still laughing.

    .
    Last edited by Chris Allman; 9th November 2018 at 08:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Berengaria

    Cappy, I know a number of polis who would like, and indeed need, a wet shave.
    Is he still available? LOL
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Berengaria

    Quote Originally Posted by happy daze john in oz View Post
    Cappy, I know a number of polis who would like, and indeed need, a wet shave.
    Is he still available? LOL
    ###jeez man i sure never went to that part of spain again .......lol cappy

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    Default Re: Berengaria

    Perhaps Cappy you were the author of the phrase *a close shave*, spoken with a Geordie accent of course , kt
    R689823

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    Default Re: Berengaria

    Cappy, What is the cost of a haircut in Geordie land these days, I know in Liverpool TOO POOOND !!!!!!!! Doesn't get you a chair these days Terry.
    {terry scouse}

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    Default Re: Berengaria

    Talking of haircuts, the girl friend of one of my mates, worked in the first unisex hair saloon in shields. Shortly after it opened she was cutting the hair of a middle aged gent when she noticed movement under the apron in the crotch area of the customer.Dirty bastard, she thought, first time he gets his hair cut by a young lads and here he is playing with himself!!!.
    She promptly belted him over his head with a hair dryer only to find out to her mortification that what was actually happening was that he had removed his glasses and was using the gown to clean them.
    Rgds
    J.A.

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    Default Re: Berengaria

    We were at St.Vincent Cape St.Verde anchored out,a barber with a wooden leg came aboard.One of the lads said he was on one ship when this barber was half way through cutting somebodys hair,it looked like a tanker was heading straight for them,the barber threw all his gear into his case whipped the sheet off the guy getting his haircut and went over the side into his boat the guy with half a haircut shouting what about my hair with the barber shouting back next trip sir next trip.
    Regards.
    Jim.B.
    CLARITATE DEXTRA

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