It only takes sixty minutes, girl

At the heart of the tiny labyrinth that is Fethiye's tourist centre - full of loud, sweaty bars for backpackers, lantern-lit courtyard restaurants, hammams and Turkish delight stalls - crouched a barber's shop atop a flight of stone steps, identifiable by its traditional red-and-white-striped pole. My friend and I, weary from a week's holiday on board a rather spartan sea-vessel, braved the crumbling stairs together. Inside the shop a ceiling fan stirred the soupy air, which reeked of stale hair oil; faded posters on the walls suggested a local nostalgia for those heavily tonged, sprayed and streaked hairdos that contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer above many a fun-packed Mediterranean resort in the mid-Eighties.

At the heart of the tiny labyrinth that is Fethiye's tourist centre - full of loud, sweaty bars for backpackers, lantern-lit courtyard restaurants, hammams and Turkish delight stalls - crouched a barber's shop atop a flight of stone steps, identifiable by its traditional red-and-white-striped pole. My friend and I, weary from a week's holiday on board a rather spartan sea-vessel, braved the crumbling stairs together. Inside the shop a ceiling fan stirred the soupy air, which reeked of stale hair oil; faded posters on the walls suggested a local nostalgia for those heavily tonged, sprayed and streaked hairdos that contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer above many a fun-packed Mediterranean resort in the mid-Eighties.

The barber, sporting a grimy vest and a film of perspiration, greeted us warmly but seemed baffled. One of us was a woman, the other male, but totally bald - so what on earth were we doing in a barber's shop? Some clumsy sign language on our part explained that I wanted to have my hair washed. He grunted, shrugged, and gestured for me to sit on the red vinyl chair facing the sole (none too clean) washbasin.

We women are unaccustomed to the mysterious male tradition of the front-wash - straining forward, chin grazing the greasy porcelain, only to catch sight of someone else's hair blocking the plughole - instead of reclining gracefully for a relaxing shampoo and rinse.

Warm water drenched my head, ran into my ears and down my neck; the barber scrubbed at my matted scalp with a pungent shampoo, and then finally swilled away a week's salt water, sea air and suntan lotion.

With my clean, cool head swathed in an ancient and paper-thin towel, I politely declined the offer of a blow-dry, somewhat put off by the pneumatic coiffures adorning the salon walls. I wasn't overly keen to spend my last evening in Turkey sporting the kind of bouffant that Gloria Hunniford saves for special occasions. The warm evening breeze would serve perfectly well as a hairdryer, I assured the barber, sipping a cup of sweet mint tea. No biscuit, but it would have been churlish to gripe about such a minor detail when the bill came to a mere 70p. And hey, I'm worth it.

Comments