Of razor blades, poverty and one pair of shoes

Another morning, another check of the bank account, another flood of dry tears and another giving of myself ‘a good shake’ as I decided to take the advice so often dealt out on this blog. Off I trooped to the bathroom scratching away the queue of itches that had accumulated overnight, switched on the low energy shaving light and took ‘ a good old-fashioned look at myself in the mirror’.

It didn’t help. The truth couldn’t be ignored. I may not have been old fashioned but I was OLD or at least older than I would have been if I had remembered to gently but masculinely massage my visage with my slightly scented rejuvenating essence of aloe-vera. It was a memory thing. I had stopped remembering to do even the most important tasks. I put this down to taking the pledge (giving up booze that is not sniffing furniture polish).

I puffed my cheeks and slowly allowed them to deflate in concert with my ego, ambition, hopes and self-esteem. Was that really me in there? Was that me with the crumpled quilts beneath my eyes? Had Edinburgh modelled its tram system on my forehead? Lips cracked, eyes dulled, and moustaches coming out of ears and nostrils, matching ones without the grey like sleeping slugs pelmeting my eyes….my God! What had happened to that fresh faced, smart, smooth sparkling body that had once carried the hopes of my genes and chromosomes to every corner of the world.

Feckin shaving; that’s what. Every bleedin morning…scrape, scrape, scrape. How long does it take us? Let’s say five minutes a day for three hundred and sixty five days a year for seventy years. That is one hundred and twenty seven thousand seven hundred and fifty minutes or two thousand one hundred and sixty nine hours and a bit; or even worse one thousand four hundred and nineteen and a half football matches; assuming fifty games a season for the sake of ease, that’s just short of twenty eight and a half seasons’ worth of games spent foaming and scraping.

But it wasn’t just the shaving; it was the thinking that went along with it. With each stroke of the razor another depressing thought would appear like a bloody nick on my soul. “What I have to do is stop thinking” I thought to myself in that weird oxymoronic way that a man on the verge of senile insanity does to himself. I ran the tap and foamed up and reached for my razor.

Fortunately Gillette fusion’s aren’t exactly in the Sweeney Todd class; but I gave it one of those pleading glances anyway; it ignored me clearly telling me  “Dignitas can wait, after all we are very old friends aren’t we.” .

“It can’t get any worse can it” I mumbled out loud to my reflection “A feckin talking razor blade or what!” I waited and was quite relieved that my reflection didn’t reply; the razor blade kept schtoom as well, but I suspected it was just waiting for an opening.

Mind you the razor had a point figuratively speaking of course.! We had been together longer than some people stay married – me and the blade. It needed replacing but what can you do…no not because I had become romantically entangled – that would be daft – but blades don’t come free gratis; I was skint and I couldn’t really afford a new one. I had got a reasonable three months out of it but it seemed to be losing its sharpness now. My recent reading of my bank account screamed for attention. “You can’t afford it” it shouted. “Crikey moses, a talking bank account now.” I looked around to consider what other inanimate objects might join in our depressing review of my assets and wealth. The big Celtic bath towel ignored me and even a cheery good morning to the toothbrush, shower unit and bleach bottle didn’t elicit any nougats of knowledge.

“Fair enough” I thought “towels, toothbrushes, domestos bottles and shower units are not exactly renowned for their sparkling repartee.”

But I still needed a new blade. I had to shave. I foamed up again, forgetting I had already done so and pulled the blade down my cheek. Pumice stone would have been smoother; a thousand pairs of miniature tweezers tugged and tugged as this time real water tears ran through the drifts of lemon and lime smoothy shaving cream from the pound shop.

I put my faithful companion back on its stand. I reckoned it still had one more shave left in it but only after general anaesthetic or as a bet, a penance or a guest appearance on one of those Japanese endurance programmes.

I wandered into the living room, absentmindedly wiping the cream from my fisog onto a handily placed dish towel, and plonked myself down in the settee to ponder my useless existence, empty bank account and hairy chin chin.

The Guardian lay silently morose on the coffee table, only half read. I opened it. “Feck Me, economies are one thing but I need a new paper”. Even I knew that Tony Blair had been replaced by Gordon Brown; and then the advert at the bottom caught my eye still stinging from a stray spurt of the lemon and lime foam.


“Yippee” I thought “I can DOUBLE my blade’s useful existence.”

“ONLY £17.50 P&P FREE” the advert continued.

“£17.50, damn. Where am I going to get £17.50?”

I slumped into impecunious dejection again, but read on as it showed how to use the miracle invention. It was simple really and surely I could replicate it with some handy common or garden implements that any semi-sophisticated household would possess. I mean it couldn’t be that difficult; probably very similar to the old shaving straps that barbers used (before they were called hairdressers).

I tried everything that I had, but the blade held on to its angry dullness. Nothing worked: But I was on a mission now, filled with the vigour of adventure, experiment, discovery and perhaps even triumph. This was life at the sharp edge indeed! I took another drag on the strangely squiggly but expertly rolled exotic cigarette when the idea came to me. “Of course!! Eureka” I cried out in that Archimedean falsetto voice brought on by breathing, smoking and eating the left over curry from last night’s munchies session all at the same time.

I had remembered how we had been sent out to enjoy those heady salad days of summer in the Coatbridge of my youth barefooted, bare chested and un creamed to enjoy the occasional burst of sunlight through the blast furnace fog and hail of red hot cinders. That toughened you up I’ll tell you and it came as a slight disappointment when you were selected to go to the shops for the messages since that meant you had to put on the one pair of shoes to prevent you catching something from the blood and sawdust in on the butcher’s floor. To this day I prefer bare foot to shod…it seems more natural.

Anyway I remembered one night while Katrina, Jeannie and Maggie (my three devoted sisters ) and I were playing at ‘hospitals’ in the wee bedroom. They had accurately and expertly marked the positions of my major organs with indelible ink markers in preparation for a ‘sex change’ operation. They asked me to mark out the final and critical cut as they ‘didn’t want to see my winkie”. Anyway while I was at this important task, wondering what a ‘sex change’ operation was and what on earth my pee wee machine had to do with it, the sound of approaching adult steps were heard at the bottom of the stairs.

“I’ll be up in five minutes and you all better be ready for bed!”

In a panic the lassies stopped peeling the hard skin from the bottom of each others feet and surveyed the carnage. “Everything under the bed” Katrina ordered and in a moment all was a picture of calm and serenity. Well apart from me who still looked like a motorway map. Wee Maggie came up with the answer.

She had just removed a six inch length of Katrina’s skin from the bottom off her left foot. The outside was hard and dry but the inside was still warm and dampish with the left over residues of various epidermal fluids. Soft side first they rubbed me down leaving only a faded outline of my experimental use as a medical chart. Then it was time for the hard side to be put to use. One minute later it had not only removed any trace of the so called indelible ink, it had also removed any hairs, sores and scab heads. I was brand sparking shiny smooth and new, and all thanks to the fact that we only had one pair single-sex shoes between us.

I leapt up from the settee with an agility and suppleness not witnessed for many a shaveless morning. I sprayed the bottom of my left foot with some shaving foam, ran the almost defunct blade in reverse along the soaped pad nearest to my heel. I did it three or four time just to give my theory a proper chance to work, and then the moment of truth.

I scooped up some of the excess foam from my foot arch (waste not want not, think of the poor kids in Africa) and spread it on my morning bristles. I took a deep breath and pulled the experimental blade down my cheek.

“Now what do you have to say to that” I beamed in the mirror.

“Pretty damn good” said the Gillete Fusion while even the towel, toothbrush , bleach and shower unit all broke into a wee round of applause.

I tell you…this time next year to borrow from Del Bhoy….. I am going to be a millionaire.

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