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January 19, 2012

Yesterday, after some days of hesitation, John and I went to the hairdresser.  It is some three months since either of us have had a haircut and it was beginning to be pretty obvious.  We had been recommended a hairdresser; we knew where it was and the hairdresser spoke English.  However we were both a bit nervous.  This was a little outside our comfort zone.  We are used to walking into Salon 40 in Kirkcudbright, two doors from where we live and the hairdressers all know us.  We like the gossip and I know I won’t have to make any decisions as Pat just cuts the hair and makes it tidier.  John likes his hair to look the same when he leaves the hairdresser as when he goes in.  Pauline can deal with this.  This all might be a bit more difficult in a Cretan salon!

We had a joint appointment for 11 o’clock and there was no-one else there except Gregory, the owner of the salon, a dog and a woman who washed our hair.  We were asked whether we minded the dog being there.  So a conversation about dogs followed and it was clear that communication would be easy.  I was first.  Goodness knows what he was thinking about the state of my hair but he retained a professional manner throughout.  We agreed I wanted the same style but shorter and tidier.  John sat and watched.

The conversation was lively and interesting.  Gregory’s  family are from Ierapetra but he himself was born in Canada.  His grandfather and father were hairdressers and his father moved to Toronto but his wife did not like the winters and they returned to have more family in Crete.  It seemed that Gregory could have moved to London to work but he likes the warmth, the good food and the lifestyle here. That I could understand.

Gregory had a lot to say about the Greek ‘crisis’.  He started by asking if the ‘crisis’ was bad in the UK and then talked about the effect in Greece.  He said the public services workers were particularly affected with huge pay cuts.  His sister, a teacher, has had her salary reduced from 1,200Euros to 800Euros a month which appears to reflect a general 30% pay cut amongst many of the public sectors workers.  There has been huge anger about the pay cuts throughout Greece. His father, who was self employed and had been compulsorily paying into a state pension for years, is now receiving 500Euros less a month for that pension. It is all very bad according to Gregory.

He was more ambivalent about the tax situation.  In the past, the collection of tax was carried out locally by named individuals.  If a person did not pay their tax bill, the individual would offer a bribe to the tax collector and then would be charged a fine which was a lot less than the actual tax bill.  So the tax was never paid. That has now changed and an offficial from Athens is responsible for the collection of the tax and bribery is not an option.  Gregory thought this was good but I think was a little unsure as to whether the new system would work.

He is self employed and says he pays a lot of tax.  He said though that if you followed all the rules and were ‘good’ you would be out of business as you would be paying for all the people who were not paying tax!  He was aggrieved at the farmers who he said led a charmed life.  While he paid VAT, the farmers got their VAT back.

I asked about the unfinished roads.  The new bits of roads which we have seen have all apparently been paid for by the European Union.  Corruption was inherent in the system as the contractors  put in the cheapest asphalt and then got the contract to repair the road.  Now the roads are not being built as the EU money has stopped.

Gregory asked where we were from and said we had good ‘nature’ in Scotland.  He was referring not the national character but the great scenery we have.  I had to agree.  By this time my hair was cut and looked a lot better.  He had said that business was quieter in the ‘crisis’, not that there were less people having their hair cut but people were saving money by cutting back on having their hair styled or coloured.  I didn’t want mine styled or coloured but he didn’t take offence by my mean-ness! 

By this time there were more people in the salon.  It was John’s turn.  He too was asked what he wanted and again Gregory did exactly what he was asked to do.  However, the difference was that, in time honoured fashion John being male, in a hushed voice was told a dirty joke about viagra, breast implants and dementia.!

We then escaped feeling that we had learnt quite a lot and for 35 Euros, had tidier hair.  It was good value but twice as expensive as Kirkcudbright! Good to know that anywhere in the world the hairdressers is a good place for gossip, views and information (and dirty jokes!).

Don’t we look good after the haircuts!!!



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  1. Mairi Marlborough permalink

    Less than 35 euros for two haircuts in Kirkcudbright – you are very lucky! I paid £23 for a dry trim yesterday in Edinburgh (but I enjoyed the chat though it wasn’t as edifying as yours was!)

  2. Andrew permalink

    Aren’t we going to get to read “the joke”?

  3. Happy birthday to Rabbie Burns – anyone know where I can buy vegetarian haggis in DC?

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