Get a haircut.
Have a new passport photograph taken.
Two more items to be added to my mental list 'Tasks not to be undertaken by my teenage sons without adult supervision'.
I sent them out the other morning with those instructions. I thought I was helping with their personal growth, giving them some responsibility, encouraging them to make decisions on their own. In hindsight I should have known better. Their downfall didn't lie in the absence of ability but rather their lack of vanity.
Haircuts have never been high on the list of priorities, in fact for the first couple of years they weren't even an issue. The boys newborn auburn fuzz gave way to gossamer. Hair as soft as silk, as fine as spun silver. It would glow in the sunlight, a luminous halo above their cherubic faces.
It also meant they looked bald for the first 10 months!
When it did eventually begin to sprout and darken we discovered that No 1 son had been blessed with what has become affectionately known as the 'bedlam barnet' ( or 'Muppet mop' on occasion). Of course, in the age old tradition of good cop bad cop, that meant No 2 son has hair that usually behaves impeccably.
Initially, and somewhat nervously, I dealt with the few curls that crept over their ears or nestled messily at their napes (The first ones cut are tied with a ribbon and kept in a small box. What can I say? I'm a sentimentalist!) But their hair became longer, thicker and beyond my dubious skills. Was it time to let someone else loose on their locks?
Enter the man of the house. With clippers. He's cut his own hair (or what's left of it) for years and after a bit of wrangling over which guard was to be used I agreed he could take over. So for the next four years they were bi-annually shorn like sheep. It worked really well in the summer, preparing them for the anticipated heatwave (snort!), but meant that winter attire always had to include a natty line in hats.
If it got too untidy to wait for the next clipper session I took them to the 'Gents Hairdressers'. They liked it so much their dad was given the heave- ho.( I think it might have had something to do with the lollipop the barber would give them on the way out)
It's an unassuming little establishment, set in off the street almost hidden from view, easily missed if it weren't for the barbers pole.
Walking through the door is like taking a step back in time. Not to the dim and distant past, just a decade.... or four:o) The floor is covered in vinyl, the pattern of which has long since been worn and scrubbed away. Two large barbers chairs, all shiny chrome, cream enamel and burgundy faux leather, take pride of place in the middle of the room. Since the proprietor is also the sole employee only one of the chairs is used. It's artificial ageing is a distant memory, the dark red worn to bright cherry, polished by countless posteriors.
To the right, under the window, is a wooden bench. There is no appointment book made up weeks in advance, here you simply walk in, take a seat, and wait your turn (be it for a haircut, a fishing permit or to drop off your pools coupon).
It will be a quick, no nonsense cut of the short back and sides variety, and no paying over the odds for fancy products or verbal inanities.(The barber, being born and bred in Moffat, probably knows more about you than you do yourself so has no need to ask if you're going on holiday. In fact she could probably tell you where, when and for how long you're going, and what the in flight film will be! )
To pass the time while you wait there is a choice of reading material in the corner, a couple of daily tabloids, invariably turned to the sports section, and a pile of old Dandy annuals (the boys love them).
Sometimes though, when 'bedlam barnet's' curls and ringlets act up, slightly more styling is required. That's when I make them an appointment with my hairdresser. Which is what I did. And made the mistake of letting them go themselves!
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. Maybe I should have written it down. When I said, 'a haircut' No 1 son must have heard 'a hair cut' because that's apparently what he got. I could detect no discernible difference when he arrived home. I just wonder how he decided which hair to sacrifice?
As to No 2 son, well what can I say. He came home looking like a Paul Weller tribute act! ( I'm sorry if that offends, but lets be honest here, for all his musical talent that man has never had a decent 'do )
So its back to the hat box for a few days until I can arrange another appointment, and this time I'll be going with them!
As for the passport photographs. Well.........