Eric the Barber's shop in 2001 There's a programme on RTE Radio 1 in Ireland called 'Queuing For a Living'. The whole programme consists of interviews with people who are waiting for something: to visit a relative in prison, to collect a social security payment, to catch a train...

As I listened to Saturday's edition, I remembered some of the queuing and waiting I did as a child in Abergele in the sixties ...

... There was the dentist's in Alexandra Road. Mr Ben Francis was our dentist. He was a skilful and kind dentist. He knew I hated injections and, although I was only eight, he cared enough about what I felt to drill without novocaine. He loved golf and this love was reflected in the pile of golfing magazines in his waiting room. The walls were covered with burgundy-coloured, paisley-patterned, furry wallpaper - the kind you find in Indian restaurants. And there was a print of a painting of Venetian gondolas by Canaletto hanging above the fireplace.

Another place we had to queue was at the chippie. (The chip shop next door to the chemists that used to be Boots and is now Lloyds in Market Street.) What I remember most about that chippie was the fact that the stainless steel counter was so high. As children, we couldn't understand why anyone would want to erect such a high counter. Anyone would think they didn't want you leaning over the boiling fat to watch the chips frying! Eric's 'goodbye' message to his customers on his retirement.

The third place we had to queue - and I remember queuing for many hours here - was at Eric the Barber's in Chapel Street. It used to be upstairs, above the betting office - sorry, Turf Accountants'. As we walked in to take a seat at the end of the queue, our Tuf Shoes - the ones with the compass hidden in the heel - patted a Riverdance beat on Eric's lino floor. Oh those sounds and smells ... the buzz of the infra-red steriliser, the talk of politics and scandals, the sting of the Bay Rum sprinkled salt and vinegar style on our heads ...

I went back there for a haircut two months ago. He's moved shop downstairs now, but it's as if time's stood still. Eric and his shop haven't changed one bit.


(c) Gareth Morlais 1996-2007

Abergele in Shorts - by Gareth Morlais
Bally Ballet
The Birds
Lucky Bag
Hywel the Barber
Dai Magic
Pandora's Box
The Playnies
The Tunnel
Bee Filling Station
X Files
The Log Cabin
Five Childhood Puzzles
More Childhood Puzzles
Blow or Suck?
The Funeral
Comics' Day
Bertie Babs
Haunted House
Mad Mouse
Tomorrow's World

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