Dereks barbers shop Montrose


Sparks fly inside the shed. I go inside to see for myself.I meet Gavin and his colleague welding pipes. This is Brookfield Fabricators and Gavin has just finished a four year apprenticeship in welding. Tall, slender bottles of argon gas stand nearby. The other man starts and he tells me to not look at the light. Tells me seriously, as you can get eye burn. I look at him and he says that you can’t open your eyes for the pain that feels like glass behind your eyes. I believe him. Even out the corner of my eye I can sense how bright the light is. I take some pictures and promise to return with a drawing or two.

A streak of orange vomit outside the pub on the corner. A smiling blue haired woman bounces down the Kirkie steps.

I enter the barbers. Am met by Derek and 94 year old Jim in for a trim. Derek has been here since 1979. He had come back into the trade after the years when as Derek said, there wasn’t much call for haircuts what with the Hippies and their long hair.The shop has been a barbers since 1919. He only works three mornings a week, thinks he’ll retire in a couple of years. I record the sound of the clippers and some conversation between Derek and Jim which is overlaid with the sounds of Hot Chocolate singing ‘I believe in miracles, oh you sexy thing’…. Jim gets up to go, zips up his jacket and tells me he’s been coming for a very long time. I ask Derek why barbers poles are red and white and he explains that in an age when barbers were also surgeons, the red and white represented the bloody bandages being hung out to dry. We chat about football and pensions and I record a story about Hamilton Accies and the missing barbers pole. He says he’ll advertise the exhibition in his shop and tells me he’ll come and take a look.

A mannequin in a bridal shop window has an expression of confusion on her face. Her blonde wig slips a little.

In the ‘Coffee Pot’ Rod Stewart sings ‘Maggie ‘. I’m sure he was singing the last time I was in. A woman opposite says she’ll watch my bag when I go to the loo which is outside, next door up a flight of stairs and along a dark corridor. When I return I chat to her and her husband Jack. Maureen tells me about her Grandmother from Lewis who smoked a clay cuttie pipe. I record her story and finish my Victoria sponge. Marge the owner shows me her drawings which she keeps in a folder by the till. They are good. She says customers are getting scarcer, nobody has any money.

I am reading Michel De Certeau,    ‘The practice of everyday life’ . He suggests that walkers are ‘practitioners’ of the city and that the city is made to be walked. Although Montrose is no city , the same can apply. He asserts that in some sense walking is like speaking, and the the city is the language. If one were to cease walking then the stories and language of the space will likewise cease to exist. Rebecca Solnit in ‘Wanderlust’ refers to Christophe Bailly who speaks of Paris …’as a collection of stories, a memory of itself made by the walkers of the street. Should walking erode, the collection may become unread or unreadable’. (p.213 -‘ Wanderlust’. )

I return to the car to find the windscreen covered in seagull poo. The squooshey is empty too so fling a bottle of fizzy water at it and head back over the bridge .

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