Regulation haircuts were all the rage in my day

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You have to say, poor old Kim Jong-un gets a pretty bad press on these shores.

Loved and respected in his utopian homeland, the baby-faced North Korean leader always seems to be a figure of fun in our decadent, capitalist society.

And now he is coming in for ridicule over new rules which require all male students to copy his hairstyle.

In the past, North Korean men were able to choose from a dazzling array of 10 different hairstyles for men, or a mind-boggling 18 for women.

But then North Korean state TV launched a campaign against long hair, called Let us trim our hair in accordance with the Socialist lifestyle.

Have they never seen the NUT conference?

Certainly, the enforcement of such a policy is riddled with pitfalls. I mean, who adjudicates as to what constitutes a Kim Jong-Un hairstyle? And what happens if your hairline starts receding? Or the barber has a slip with the clippers? Yet, despite all this, I think the Dear Leader might be on to something.

You see choice is all very well, but it's just another thing to worry about.


And apart from a brief flirtation with the slicked-back, Mark Lamarr quiff in the 1980s (he copied me, of course), I've never really been that into hairstyles. For me, it's usually a grade four on the top, a two at the back, six quid on the counter and off I go.

But in many ways, the North Korean vision of a follicle brotherhood is not that dissimilar from when I was a youngster growing up in the '70s Black Country.

Forget all that nonsense from The Grimleys, the Alvin Stardust sideburns or the Johnny Rotten spikes. Back then, there was only haircut among the youth of the West Midlands. The Jack Wall cut.

Anybody who was anybody had a Jack Wall cut. Well anybody in Tipton, anyway. This cheery old gent – well he seemed old to me – had a total monopoly on youngsters' haircuts at that time.


And Jack was a proper barber. None of those silly chrome chairs or fresh coffee, just no-nonsense lino on the floor and a Dolly Allen poster on the wall.

And best of all, for a juvenile adolescent such as myself, was the endless entertainment of the 'privacy window' on the doorstep. Every few minutes, there would be a tap on the frosted glass, and Jack would take a break from his snip-snipping to address one of the shy retiring creatures in search of 'something for the weekend'. Actually, I don't ever recall that expression being used, but there were euphemisms aplenty.

Looking back, what was the privacy window all about? Firstly, there was the small matter of Jack wandering across the shop to his special cupboard, before shouting 'large or small?'

It usually seemed to be small, by the way.

But secondly, how is a window fronting on to one of the Black Country's most congested road junctions conducive to keeping a low profile? The endless stream of shifty-looking men tucking their purchases into their raincoats provided plenty of light relief in the traffic jams which clogged Tipton's Five Ways.

And let's face it, if you've got the front to carry that off, having your hair cut like a slightly mad megalomaniac dictator should be a piece of cake.

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