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The Village Hairdresser - Beware!

In a nearby town there's a notorious hairdresser, and if she's anything to go by she is not a good advert for her trade, as she has a moustache herself. Her name is Kremena; she is now an elderly woman. She's been running the business for nearly forty years, and never had a complaint until recently. Her surgery, sorry, salon, has never been decorated in all those years and still has the same chair.

It is my opinion that she was the inventor of the punk hairstyle. Whenever I get the chance I go there, but only because she is my friend, and to visit friends in the town. It doesn't matter, as many others have the same style and don't complain, so I don't complain either.

The cost was 1.5 leva for a short back and sides, with little bonuses thrown in, as some sides are shorter than others.

The other service she offers men is a shave. Now, apart from when I had my appendix out, no-one else has ever shaved me before: this was a first for me, and for a fee of 50 stotinki it was actually cheaper than buying a razor blade. Why doesn't everyone go there for a shave then? I was about to find out. It was a nervous man who sat there at the mercy of this old lady, who bore a cutthroat razor of just the type I had feared. I wear glasses due to short-sightedness, and I can't see much without them on, so I couldn't see what was going on in the cracked old mirror facing me; the shave proceeded with me in the dark, so to speak.

When she had finished, homemade rakia was slapped on my face (ouch!) and I was asked to wait in the chair while we talked. Then a damp cloth was wiped over my face, and after paying I was free to go. As usual it took a lifetime to make my back along the streets - I knew a lot of people in this town, and had to stop to chat to them all en route. The curious thing was they normally ask me where I have been and what I've been up to - today, they knew where I'd been and merely asked me where I was going now. I wasn't quite sure how they knew until I finally got back home to Skalitsa and saw the blood-stained face staring back at me from the mirror. It looked as though I had been halfway through the death of a thousand cuts, but all in the same area. Well, 50 stotinki really was cut price, and that's exactly what I got. No wonder everyone knew where I had been.

But don't just take my word for it - my brother went there a few weeks later and came back with an Elvis-style sideburn on one side and the original Blackadder style on the other. His face also looked as though it had been through a mincer; you could have made black pudding with the amount of blood that was seeping out. The only difference between his episode and mine was that he had complained.

I still go there for a punk haircut now and then, but never for a shave, even though she considers herself a cut above the rest!

The above is an extract from "Simple Treasures in Bulgaria", by Martin Miller-Yianni. His website can be viewed at www.bulgarianslivatree.com

To order the book "Simple Treasures in Bulgaria", visit www.lulu.com/content/4312621