It all started when my Grammar School & I decided that formal education wasn’t working. So, with my parents blessing, I made a decision to leave school & look for a job. Someone suggested hairdressing, I thought, why not? Beautiful women (remember I was only 15 at the time) & freedom to wear what I liked.
Right. Find a job. My sister worked with her husband in his office in London’s Regent Street & one morning I met her as she had arranged an interview for me at a salon called Barry Woolf in the Regent Arcade (near Piccadilly Circus).
In I trotted, all done up in my weekend best, into this salon that had all the atmosphere of a funeral parlour, to be greeted by this rather strange looking man who had bright orange hair, walked with a wiggle & had a very strange, high-pitched voice. He asked a few questions, told me what he was looking for, told me about the premium my parents would have to pay (100-00 Guineas, £105-00) equivalent to 2 years’ salary whilst I was in training, & then the bomb dropped.
He actually trod on my new, brown suede winkle-picker shoes & said, in that very strange voice “of course, you won’t be wearing shoes like that here”. Oh really!
My sister & I ran out into Regent Street & absolutely cracked up with laughter. Once we calmed down, I said “anywhere else we could try”? She said something about there being another salon further up Regent Street but we didn’t know if we’d be seen without an appointment.
There it was, the place that would dictate my entire career to the present day, almost 55 years ago!
We walked into this salon, Robert Fielding of Regent Street, that seemed to me to be like a raving lunatic asylum. It was packed to the rafters, noisy & the most exciting place I’d ever been in my life. This short, dark, very handsome man approached us, asked what we wanted & the rest, as they say, is history.
My parents were able to pay the premium for my employment (don’t ask how, Dad must have robbed a bank or something) & at age 15 years & 9 months my career began on August 22nd 1960!