Jim, Turkish barbers in the U.K. are not restricted to London, they are everywhere. Just as a lot of ‘Indian’ restaurants in the U.K. are not Indian (they are more often Bangladeshi), so a lot of `Turkish’ barbers are not Turkish. They may be Kurdish, which can be men from Turkey, but also from Syria or Iraq. Actually, if they are Turkish, sometimes they have women barbers, too. From my few visits to Turkey, the barbers takes the place of a bar in counties where alcohol is consumed more widely. Men go to the barbers yes, for a haircut and a shave, but also to shoot the shit, to chat and gossip and watch sport on TV and talk about…whatever guys talk about when they get together. I like the haircut, even though I’m at that stage of hair loss where I’m really only having a buzz cut, and I really like the wet shave with a cut throat razer, which I treat myself to occasionally. I tell you, that is always an intimate experience, when someone is shaving you with an open blade razor – not sexual, but certainly intimate. It is a full-on experience, this barbershop thing. There are the touch and sight and sound elements but a lot of Turkish barbers use an astringent lemon water to close pores and that sharp smell cuts through too. And not to be left out in the sensory stakes is when they dip a cotton wool ball in methylated spirits, set it alight and then waft the flame into your ear canal to singe the little hairs growing there. You have to trust the guy and not flinch and you get the sound and smell of the hair burning, the sensation of heat, the fierce attention of someone looking at you and after you…and, of course, you emerge from the chair looking a smart as new paint. It is an intense, sensory experience.

British guy. Loves writing — loves words. Loves reading. Loves Medium. Twitter @andykilloran

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