Setting down the scissors after 64 years

From falling asleep in the chair to bleeding above the collar — Guy Robinson has seen it all.

South Dunedin’s resident barber has set down his scissors for the last time after 64 years of cutting hair.

Mr Robinson got his start in hairdressing in 1960, after an abrupt departure from King’s High School.

The then 14-year-old made the choice to flunk the new school year to work on an orchard with a mate.

After a grilling from his parents and with the cherry picking season coming to an end, his father mentioned his local barber was looking for an apprentice.

But Mr Robinson declined the offer.

"[My father] basically twisted my arm and talked me into it and so here we go, 64 years later," he said.

Since then, The Barber Shop, in King Edward St, had seen many colourful characters come through its doors.

Former owner of The Barber Shop, Guy Robinson, 79, has officially retired from the hairdressing...
Former owner of The Barber Shop, Guy Robinson, 79, has officially retired from the hairdressing business. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
One of them was a man named Harry, "who loved his grog".

Harry came in one day "really under the weather" to get an urgent haircut for a wedding the next day, but was met with a queue of four customers.

"He sat on the seat at the back of the queue. The next thing, he nodded off.

"So I did the four people that were sitting there, then I gave him a shake."

Harry hopped in the chair and once the cut was done, he turned around and shook the hands of those waiting to thank them for letting him go first.

Of course, these were four completely different customers, but Harry was none the wiser.

He had had only one mishap in his career, Mr Robinson said.

A man came in all dressed up but warned him of a small lesion underneath his collar.

Having got caught up "yapping away" to one smartly dressed customer, Mr Robinson nicked a lesion on the man’s neck.

"Blood was going all over his collar and he went bloody nuts.

"It was the biggest telling-off I’ve ever had."

Being a barber was similar to being a psychiatrist, as you chatted to a lot to people about their lives and got to know them very well, Mr Robinson said.

Despite leaving the business, he still saw a lot of his former customers when out walking the dog or at the bowling club, Mr Robinson said.

When he was in a hurry, he would even wear a cap to the supermarket to avoid getting caught up chatting to people.

Nonetheless, he was grateful to have cut the hair of so many wonderful customers, or as he put it, "friends".

"Of course, when you’re there for a long time, a lot of the customers — you don’t treat them as customers because they become friends."

"Over all of those years a lot of them have become friends — they know all about you and you know all about them.

"There’s never a dull moment in a place like that."