As some of you may know, The Ericle has recently returned from a late summer holiday in Turkey; the last 4 days of which were spent Turkey 170in Istanbul. We had booked our flights, and our Taksim Square accommodation, in February to avail ourselves of some good deals. However in June, given the political unrest with Taksim Square at its epicentre, this advanced economy seemed ‘unfortunate’ to say the least. Anyway, after many concerns and some reassurances that all, we progressed with our plans. However when on August 30th we checked into The Taksim Three Apples Suite, all did not seem ‘as advertised’. There were a very large number of people on the street accompanied by a huge police presence, who in their attire & demeanour strongly suggested that a riot was about to kick-off.  Taksim Square was cordoned off, with groups of riot police at Turkey 158every street corner. As it happens this turned out to be a case of excessive caution on the authorities’ part, as the vast majority of  the popular throng was simply on the streets to peacefully celebrate the national holiday of ‘Zafer Bayramı’ – Victory Day. Nonetheless all weekend there was an ongoing small boisterous, but benign, protest – as far as I could tell of a Marxist persuasion –  on one of the major nearby thoroughfares. This, at one time, looked like it may provoke a police (over)reaction but thankfully all passed off without any incident. This, though, was not the ‘close shave’ referred to in the title of this blog-piece.

One of the features of male-dominated Turkish street life is the very high number of male hairdressers and a complete absence to the public eye of their female counterparts. The Ericle has had periods of being facially hirsute and hadn’t shaved since arriving in Istanbul. Moreover in all of the some 50 years that I have been growing follicles, I have never had a shave with a cut-throat razor. Just near our hotel  there was a barber shop; additionally one of the more modern varieties. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so on the very last night of our holiday I ventured into the establishment and requested the ‘full treatment’. Well what canTurkish Shave 1 I say! When it comes to male haircuts those Turkish chaps – both barbers and their clients – make the average British haircut seem very primitive indeed. The number of devices – cut-throat included, scissors of various sizes, electric razors (big & small), wax-applicators and candle – deployed was staggering; while every process was accompanied by some sort of massage and a different liquid or lotion. Moreover Saim, the young man who delivered these ‘head services’ – to call it just a haircut would not remotely do it justice – was a true artist in the way he worked on me. My London hairdresser, to whom I’ve gone for over 40 years, seems like an enthusiastic amateur when compared to Saim

Postscript: Since my return I have been waxing (sic!) lyrical about my Turkish haircut to all willing – and many unwilling, I’m sure – ears and bemoaning a belief  that one could not enjoy a similar haircut over here.  But this is not the case! On Sunday, Mrs. Ericle – who does like her vintage shopping ventures to Hackney, Stoke Newington and the like – informed me of an enclave of Turkish shops that she had noticed on her most recent retail sortie and the presence of not one but two establishments promoting themselves as being ‘Turkish hairdressers’. So before you could say Ali Barber I ventured forth to check them out. I chose ‘Slams’, the more modern of the establishments. I am indeed delighted to report that you can have a Turkish haircut in London. My North London Turkish haircut cost about the same as its Istanbul boutique equivalent but it was less fussy and much quicker – no bad thing, if one is to make a regular habit of it.  £10 gets you the full facial treatment, (£2  extra if you want hot towels – recommended) and another £6 for a haircut. Pop in next time you’re in the area. Tell Adam I sent you – he’ll see you alright. London Turkish barber 001

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