Tag Archives: black culture

My own interpetation of a barbershop from growing up in an area populated with numerous folk from Caribbean islands in particulat Jamaica. This still needs to be neatened up in places but I want to post a snapshot of what goes down in barbershops.



Champy turned up the volume as the smooth voice hummed through the speakers, Hutton nodded along to drums as Rupert Theo blessed the microphone. The customers were in for a treat but they didn’t know it yet. What the Night Redeems by Rupert Theo was the biggest record the country had ever seen. Jamaica was officially recognised a home to music, reggae music. Champy had been around long enough to understand what this particularly meant to the people of Jamaica.

“Now dat is moozic!” Champy bellowed “All ah dat boogo boogo raas cyaan touch dis ‘ere!”

“Champy, turn it down nuh!” Eric raised his voice over the song, “Mi sick ah ‘earin’ dis ‘ere choon pon ah soun’ system.”


Champy ignored Eric’s plea and turned it up some more, he shuffled back over to his chair and danced behind it. Samuel watched in the mirror as Champy performed a version of some eighties dance. Eric watched on unimpressed at his boss’ dance moves.


“Champy yuh to big fi dance like Michael Jackson nuh!” Eric laughed.

“Dis nah Michael Jackson, dis Champy!” He exclaimed.


The customers erupted with laughter as Champy began ducking and jumping to the beat, old man Hutton struggled up from his seat and encouraged Champy to continue. Eric stood back in amazement as Champy worked up a sweat. The loud noise casued Mr Sherman from the insurance broker next door to come in and see what was going on.


“W’appen Shermy!”

“Champy, turn down dis raas noise, mi ‘ave customer in ah my office.”

“Nah suh, mi gettin’ right in ah mi groove nuh.”

“Champy, every raas day you ah groove. W’appen to yuh?”

“Mid life crisis” Eric thought out loud.


The cassette tape peeled out of the tape deck stopping the song. The shop groaned in unison and Champy fell in to his seat visibly exhausted. He picked up a towel and wiped his forehead dry. Kevin wandered over to stereo and ejected the cassette.


“Kevin, where di raas, yuh buy dat cassette?” Champy asked.

“ Shirleen ah ‘ave a ‘ole ‘eap” his baritone voice vibrated through the shop. “She recard dem from one cassette to di nex’ an’ sell dem fi five dolla’.”

“Raas, Shirleen always affi mek prafit fram some scheme” Champy sighed.

“Champy, nex’ time mi ah step foot in ah dis place, it ah be far a trim! Nat to ‘ear yuh blootclart naise, ya simmi!” Mr Sherman resembled a school teacher when he pointed his finger.

“Sekkle, Shermy di party done.”


Mr. Sherman slammed the shop door closed and returned to his office. Eric returned his focus to Samuel’s hair. The shop encountered a brief moment of silence until the door swung open and a tall man walked in whistling What the Night Redeems. Everyone stopped and stared at him until he stopped whistling and took a seat next to Hutton. Champy signalled the tall man to his seat and prepared to cut his hair.


“Di problem I ‘ave wit’ dat recard is dat it meks Jamaica look like paradise” Eric spoke.

“Fa real” Samuel agreed.

“So, wha’ di problem?” Champy asked covering the tall man with a sheet.

“Dis place is nat a paradise” Eric moaned.

“Dem mek videos dat play pon di telly dat show Ocho Rios and Negril and dem people deh tink all ah Jamaica look like dat” Samuel spoke.

“Exactly!” Eric’s comment was met with nods from Kevin and a teenager in dark sunglasses.

“But why is dat a problem? It means mar people ah come to Jamaica” Hutton proclaimed “Mar tarism is mar money for di nation.”

“Oo gets dat money?” Eric spun round pointing his clippers at Hutton, “You? Certainly nat me, nat mi bredrin Sammy ere ar my yout’ Lewis.” The teenager in sunglasses nodded at the sound of his name. “Di people don’t see a cent fram dese tarists ar di five star ‘otel dem ah sleep in ta raas!”

“It’s nat up to dem fi feed di people, dem need fi feed demselves.” Champy chimed in “das the tarism business, it ah work fi dem. Ya tink mi like seein’ Marley wid ‘im dreads ar di Jacksons an’ dere afros. Nah suh, dat ah mek it ah tren’ wid di yout’ dem an’ none ah come cut dem ‘air” Champy argued.

“True” Eric agreed turning to Samuel’s hair.

“But it nah do nutten fi you Champy” the tall man said.

“How yuh mean?”

“Well dem likkle tarist video nah mek tarist come ‘ere. Dere nuh beach round ‘ere suh. Dem stay well aweh fram towns like dis, dey only wan’ di beach an’ di fry fish wit festival.”

“Raas me ‘ungry” Hutton moaned.

“But it’s far di bigga pickcha nah. Right now we need di Island fi look good to di res’ af di worl’. We cyaan show pure gunman in ah di gully, lickin’ aff shats at di police. Dem tarists nah feel safe in ah dat.”

“But di gunman ah come ah barbershap fi ‘im trim” Kevin spoke winding the tape back in to the cassette.

“Nat fram you!” Eric joked causing the shop to burst in to hysterics. Kevin kissed his teeth and continued with the cassette.

“Nah ‘im mek a good point still” Samuel spoke “Ah big video in ah dis place ah mek you ah rich man Champy. Someone like Sweet Tooth ar Starr Man ah-”

“Mi nah wan eny af dat raas naise in ah my establishment!” Champy boomed “Dem man ah tink dey are mafia gangman. Dat nah do nutten far me ar Jamaica.”

“Wha’? Dem man ah revolutionise di music in ah Jamaica, yuh tink di yout’ dem wan fi ‘ere What di raas night redeem? Nah suh dem wan some choon dey can relate to” Eric moaned.

“Far real” Samuel agreed.


Greg J Allman