Opinion with Matthew Munson: Jab appointment and disaster barbering attempt

Matthew and Bryan

Being the fan of democracy that I am, I asked Bryan what I should write about for this week’s column; he suggested the rain and then ran out of ideas. So that was as helpful as a hedgehog in a balloon factory, and I was therefore forced to do my job and think for myself – precisely what my job requires.

I’m not quite 40 – mid-June heralds a new decade – but I have been offered my jab; I don’t even need to specify any more detail, do I? It’s the Oxford / Astra Zeneca jab, and I’ve been invited to a chat before the jab at Saga to make sure it’s right for me.

One eccentric part of the system was when I needed to book both jabs in the same phone call, but there were no bookings at Saga; the nearest was in Essex. “What?” Bryan later exclaimed. “We’ve got to go to Essex for a day? Could I have chocolate?” I had to bitterly disappoint him; I could ring up and correct it before the second appointment. He sought reassurance that chocolate would be involved at some point, and I couldn’t help but think I was being conned; after all, I am the one who is having an injection.

In any case, the simple pleasures in life continue to be what I love the most; a haircut is very satisfying, especially after so much time away. Bryan was always very reluctant to let me loose on his hair, as he didn’t want a repeat of the razor crop he had during Lockdown One, but it had got to the point recently when “needs must”, and he finally conceded to me having a go on his hair with my clippers.

There are times in everyone’s life when they make a mistake, and I did then; I should not have said “yes”. I had shaved Bryan’s hair before, but never when it was so long; I misjudged my abilities (very scant) and nearly butchered his entire hair. In the end, my mother (who I phoned desperately seeking advice on how to salvage a terrible situation) came up and stared wordlessly at it for a moment before making a faux-silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It was entirely manageable for the next few weeks of school – thank heavens.

On Friday just gone, Matt’s Headroom was our destination after school; I have been going to that barber shop – and seeing Matt & Gavin even before that, when they worked for Malcolm’s Barbers – for nearly three decades. They were able to rescue his hair like the experts they were and ensure it looked perfect; Bryan was delighted, and so I was – I know that I will never be asked to cut Bryan’s hair again, and that’s probably for the best.

I am finding that our weeks are filling up again now as things start to reopen; Bryan has swimming and dancing every week (two lessons he is obsessed by), and it’s lovely to be able to give him those opportunities. But I do find myself missing a few small aspects of lockdown; the slower pace from time to time, and it makes me appreciate how much I want to teach Bryan that as well – how to slow down and enjoy the sound of birds and the sight of a sunset. Being a parent in lockdown has given me more skills; if I can homeschool him for more months than I care to imagine, then I cope with pretty much anything. I am not as anxious now as I was when Bryan first came home, and our relationship has strengthened a lot – I couldn’t ask for much else.


  1. Yes Matt, don’t remind me of the haircut disappointments we had. The thoughts just came flooding back, but again with a barber close by, what went wrong was put right again, and hopefully forgotten after a year or two. At least it hasn’t been mentioned yet anyway. It’s all part of being a lad and having a parent that thinks they can turn their hand to anything ! Water under the bridge now. He will appreciate all you have done for him as he grows older. Well rounded was a term I remember hearing often when growing up, I was just not sure if it was intended for me ! Kids learn a heck of a lot in school as they study but they also learn so much more in life skills at home from us.
    Always enjoy your stories !

  2. I bought some clippers at the beginning of the pandemic, so I ended up turning into an ageing skinhead every 3 months (oh, and at 58, I got my 2nd pfizer jab on Saturday!).

    • Incidentally, I’ve just heard from a good friend in Germany who’s a similar age to me, and he says he won’t even be offered his first jab until June! The UK has made loads of mistakes, but our vaccine roll out is the envy of much of the world.

      • That’s a strange sentiment.
        The nature of a pandemic is that its effects are worldwide. It’s not over until everyone is vaccinaaated; not just in the UK, but the whole world.
        Unless you are content that the UK exists in total isolation from the rest of the world.

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