I found out yesterday that a good friend of both my family and my wife’s had passed away after a long struggle with bad health. He was, and he wouldn’t have minded me saying it, the grumpiest man you could ever hope to meet.
Doug Scott was the Barber who worked in the lean-to on the side of the pub four doors down from where I grew up. I always got on well with him because we lived next to the shop and a lot of my family also went in for their haircuts. But others didn’t do so well. In the age of “customer service” he was the very antithesis of “the customer is always right” – in fact I’d go as far to say the customer was a nuisance that had to be suffered while he watched the horse racing, Countdown and chatted to people he knew.
If you walked in off the street, as many did and left the door even a millimetre open he would stop what he was doing, plod across to the door whilst staring you down and slam it shut – usually followed by a comment like “It does close then!” He would happily sit on the sink and chat to the person in the chair regardless of how many people were sitting, or even standing, waiting for their turn. My favourite was the older customers who came in and said “Nice Day Doug!” only for him to reply with, “Wouldna ken, I’ve bin stuck in here a’ day!”
Everyone was a pest – or so this persona he used would imply – but in reality he was a warm, caring and funny man who clearly loved his family as his walls were covered in pictures of his grandchildren. His beloved Celtic was also a great point of
arguments discussion in his company and being a Dons fan took great pleasure in winding him up. He also loved lawn bowls, reading and quizzes. He also did a lot for charity and supported several causes. Live Music was often the thing we discussed as he loved listening to bands in the local pubs and clubs and we’d chat about acts he’d seen both here and while on holiday.
He was one of the last of that “old fashioned” barbers that was more about him and the community of people who came in than it was about the haircut. Many only visited once, but dozens of others got to know the man under the grumpy exterior and made a great friend. When I met Jill I discovered that Dougie was not only our barber, but he was also her Dad’s best friends from childhood. Small world.
While my thoughts are with his family, who have lost a husband, father and granda, I will always remember him with a smile for the laughs we had. He struggled badly over the last decade with his health and it had seriously affected his life, so from that point of view I’m pleased he’s no longer struggling and in pain. He was a one-off, a real character and genuine guy – someone I and many others will sorely miss.