There is something terribly heartbreaking about children getting haircuts. One day my two boys are wandering about like Quadrophenia extras, peering through a gap in their face-length fringes, the next they look like a couple of psychos from Full Metal Jacket. The worst thing is how grown-up it makes them look. A severe haircut puts years on a toddler. The effect only contributes to my paranoia about missing important chunks of my sons' development. I think all men worry about this, although in my case it's got nothing to do with long working hours or business travel. I'm just not paying attention.

The haircut is a traditional father-son bonding experience. When I was a boy, my father took me to his barber, Tony the Barber, and afterwards, both smelling of talc, we would make a pact not to tell my mother how much I had cried. As with most of these traditions, it has fallen to me to break the chain. I do not take my sons to my barber because I do not have a barber. I hate having my hair cut, and an ongoing relationship with a hairdresser is my idea of a nightmare. In the last three years, I haven't been to the same place twice. This is because my choice of barber is based on an ever-shifting set of meaningless principles. For a while I believed the best haircut was the cheapest haircut. Then I decided that a good haircut must cost at least pounds 25, and preferably much more. I once thought that a true haircut had to be completed in under five minutes. About two years ago I irrationally resolved only to have my hair cut in America, a rule which lasted for exactly one haircut. Most recently I came to the conclusion that one's "natural" hairdresser is the one most geographically proximate to one's home. For me this meant walking into a place under a railway bridge called His 'n' Hers, where the three stylists, in the absence of a willing clientele, had resorted to doing each other's hair. It was not a pretty sight and, half an hour later, neither was I. Wherever I end up going, I always let it be known that I'm just passin' through, like the guy in The Fugitive.

Luckily for my boys, they have their own hairdresser, who caters for one to five-year-olds. Yesterday they went off with their mother, the one-year-old for his first haircut, the four-year-old by then totally obscured by his fringe. When they returned looking like two door-stepping Mormons, I felt tears stinging my eyes. It seemed like yesterday they were crawling around me calling me Dada. Now here they were, graduating from the police academy. The four-year-old, bursting with pride in his grown-up-looking, short-back-and-sides, could not help a childish smile as he broke the marvellous news: "I've got lice!"