The Cutting Edge Leslie Cavendish and the Baron

  “What careers would you have individually chosen had you not become entertainers?

Ringo: A hairdresser.”


                            In Their Own Words series, Omnibus Press The Stones.


This is where I stand in the eternal Armageddon, Beatles or the Rolling Stones. And when not even the Beatles would mind being the Rolling Stones. Never mind that, from the heights of our age, we perceive the battle between Pop and Rock more like the unity of Yin and Yang. It is still the Rolling Stones. Always the Rolling Stones. I never had an album, a record or, if you like, a cassette tape of the Beatles. That’s why I observed myself with increasing incredulity when, instead of heading towards The King’s Head, to watch Toska for which I bought a ticket; I ran, already late, towards the Book Club to attend the presentation of Leslie Cavendish’s The Cutting Edge, with no ticket or reservation.

After a brief, yet somewhat sweaty consideration, I realised this L-turn towards the presentation of The Cutting Edge, lay in my association of the event with the Baron, a rock’n’roller and a hairdresser. Which is why I go to his salon again and again, instead of going to my local ones, be they more central and convenient.

The Baron always plays the best music. And it is always something I haven’t heard before. And always something that I like. I don’t know how he does it. He digs old and new alike, unheard of, brilliant bands. And he plays them on big speakers with perfect sound. Better than the sound of many musical holes in town. At the Baron’s, you can have your hair cut, coloured and dried, without hearing any small talk. Just this wonderful, beautiful, sound. That’s why I think, as a tribute to him, I run towards Leslie Cavendish’s presentation.

I like Cavendish; his boring, somewhat monotonous style. He is one of those rare individuals, who might give an account of a most extraordinary chain of events, making them sound grim and grey, and bore you to sleep. Yet, here and there, he gets animated, and the air around him starts to sparkle. This is when he talks about haircutting and working with Vidal Sassoon. He repeats that being the hairdresser of the Beatles, and especially of Paul McCartney was like hitting the lottery. Yet, I can’t get rid of the impression that, deep within, there is a little voice that has woken him on dark nights with the account of what might have been if, instead of touring with the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour, he had gone to open Vidal Sassoon's Salon in New York...

Be he a boring storyteller or not, Leslie Cavendish’s book is fantastically well written, probably thanks to the co-writers Eduardo Jauregui and Neil McNaughton. The writing is catchy and easy going; and the incredible anecdotes put it all in a larger context.

At its centre is a fascinating chapter: ‘Summer of Love, Summer of War’ which describes the author’s travel to Israel as a volunteer, after the Six Days War. He talks about this episode somewhat apologetically though, and I don’t dare ask about it at question time.

And again, despite him being a rather bad storyteller, the presentation turns into a total success and by its end I am fan struck by Leslie Cavendish the Hairdresser.

In the brief moment of signing the book, I think I surprise him twice. First, by asking him to dedicate it to my hairdresser The Baron; and second, by asking him to come up with the dedication himself “You know, like a hairdresser to a hairdresser”, I say.

“To the Baron, remember, the first cut is the deepest”, Leslie Cavendish writes and says “He will understand”.

The Cutting Edge is now on sale. For the Baron’s Salon

where we can read by an anonymous client, “I'm very split on this experience. I came out loving the colour of my hair - pretty much exactly as I'd hoped and think the colour was worth the money I paid, but I didn't particularly enjoy the overall experience. The music in the salon was so loud that I couldn't hear myself think - not the usual relaxing salon experience.” I told you! To book a hairdo: