I’m going on holiday really soon and it hadn’t escaped my notice that a haircut was long, long overdue. When I phoned my Turkish hairdresser of 15 years, I discovered she’d very selfishly gone on holiday for 3 weeks. So, this is a total crisis for me – I’m not good with any kind of salon treatments, but a new hairdresser? Oh, man. A Big Ask. I have been offered cuts at any number of the big London salons (in connection with my day job), have discount cards for hundreds of them and have even been offered a stylist to come to my house to cut my hair. But nuh-oh, wasn’t prepared to make the change.

So, since The Aveda Academy had given my son a really cool hair cut, I rang them to step into the breach as crisis cutters. Poor them..my list went on and on, starting with ‘I don’t want my head massaged AT ALL’ and finishing with ‘and I don’t like a big blow dry, either’. But seriously, I was nervous! The PR had also remembered that I don’t like smelly stuff and briefed the staff..Aveda can be a bit ‘old peppermints’, so by the time I got there I’m surprised they didn’t turf me out there and then. On the Aveda website, The Academy is billed somewhat optimistically as in Covent Garden. In my mind, and on my map, it’s definitely in Holborn.

I was allocated Zak (real name Andrew…don’t ask!) who talked me through what I wanted doing with my hair – which was nothing basically, except make it a bit shorter. With my hair washed (and literally, my brain shook – there will be nothing untoward lurking on your scalp (or even in your ears probably) after such a very thorough washing – and that wasn’t even the massage) I was taken back to Zak and given a proper coffee (the Holborn salon has the great fortune to be integrated with a Le Pain Quotidien cafe). Turns out that Zak, aka Andrew, is an ex-circus performer who, in the course of a hair cut I barely noticed because of the conversation, offered to teach me to eat fire. I am very, very tempted. He’s an ex-juggler who sometimes still gets tempted to go back to circus life, he’s from Wales and used to have a labrador. I’d have missed this back at the basins if I’d opted for a fiddly head massage. Anyway, he snipped away and did the nicest possible hair cut, denied FLAT OUT that I needed any kind of colouring treatment (yes, there are some greys lurking), and told me about one (male) client’s cunning tactic with women. The client apparantly asks any woman he has his eye on how old she is and then says he thought she was older. In that way, she’s then grateful for his attentions – apparantly! Zak asked if I wanted – and let me smell – some heat protector; which I didn’t – it didn’t smell nice at all, so he just wiped it straight off his hands and didn’t miss a beat in the conversation (by then I was feeling inferior to his superb circus skills and was convincing him I could snowboard).

So, how could I have missed this? It was just fabulous – right from the greeting to the (small) blow dry – the coffee, the absolute attention to detail, the customer focus – and please, tell me where else you’re going to run into a Welsh fire-eating juggler who has a wicked way with a hairdrier and scissors?

So, I can, hand on heart, recommend the Aveda Academy, 174 High Holborn, London, tel: 020 759 7355. But, ask for Zak. That’s him, right up there.

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