Following on from Sean in our new series of Barber Blogcasts, we catch up now with Head Barber Joe, who has shared his personal experiences of lockdown and how - as well as reaching the huge milestone of becoming a first-time father - the past year has affected him.
Don’t forget, our barbershops reopen on Monday 12th April! We cannot wait to welcome you back, sort out those lockdown locks and hear plenty about your own year of experiences.
Joe Pomper, Head Barber - Murdock Soho
My Lockdown Transition
A typical lockdown day for me starts at about 7am with my daughter climbing all over me. I'll try and nab an extra 30 minutes snooze by distracting her with videos of Hey Duggee and the Twirlywoos on YouTube, but she's already getting wise to that trick. From there on it's a cycle of preparing food, eating food and then clearing up all the food that's been chucked on the floor (by the baby).
I recently moved in to a new house and have been trying my hand at absolutely anything, so I keep myself busy with random DIY jobs and have become something of a regular at the local B&Q. I’ve also stayed active with plenty of walks, I even committed to purchasing a pair of wellies to tackle the nearby muddy woods. The evenings often involve having the football on my laptop, muted of course so I can still hear the questions on The Chase.
I’m really hoping that getting back to work will fill me with a fresh sense of purpose again. I have admittedly struggled at times with motivation to do the simplest of tasks.
My Lockdown Style & Grooming Habits
I'm an OG indie kid (during my teen years I looked to Kings Of Leon, The Strokes and basically any other band who wore tight jeans, big boots and even bigger hair for inspiration), so long live the skinny jeans and baggy band tees with scruffy hair. Being 30something now though and also becoming a dad during lockdown has influenced me to smarten things up a bit. I love a cropped trouser with a tucked in tee, overshirt and jean jacket; the more layers the better really. I guess I'm in that awkward phase of not being able to really ‘define’ my style. Levi’s are my go-to for jeans and jackets. I love my DM’s too; I've been gluing the soles together for years now because I’m so reluctant to say goodbye to them.
I've stayed pretty true to my roots during lockdown and not delved into the jogging bottom game. I have however grown partial to a corduroy trouser; rolled up at the bottom of course. I’ve also found a new love for all things old fashioned. My ultimate dream is to wear suits all of the time and have a smart haircut like Johnny Cash, just like my Grandad did. More realistically though, I can look to the everyday guys I’ll soon be seeing back on the train or walking the streets of London. I see so much variety and creative clashes of styles, it does often give me inspiration to try something different.
When it comes to grooming, in all honesty, I've done the bare minimum during lockdown. I actually buzzed my hair off early on. I loved the easiness and thought it looked good, but after two days I wanted my longer locks back. I caught my reflection in Tesco and I looked like an extra from The Football Factory, so immediately started to grow it again. More recently, although back to being longer, my hair is an absolute mess and reminds me of when I tried to once grow it like Pavel Nedved in the early noughties (I couldn’t quite match his effortless coolness). It certainly inspires a neater trim for April.
I also trimmed my beard really short at the start of lockdown so I didn’t have to worry about it overgrowing. While not doing anything too extra, I have started to apply Post Shave Balm to wake my face up in the mornings and I also love Black Tea Body Wash for the energy boost it gives. Otherwise, we are talking a serious collection of hats being worn for the most part.
My Favourite Lockdown Hobbies & Purchases
Ozark series three. I watched the first two series a couple of years ago now and my interest waned. However, series three has a mouth-open, “It's 3am, just one more episode…” addictiveness to it. I’m also giving Narcos another shot. I struggled keeping up with the subtitles first time around.
I’ve also fallen into a slight obsession with vintage watches. I've spent many hours scrolling through watch collections online. I'm lucky enough to own a 1964 Rolex Oyster Precision and it's given me the bug to get more. I'm keeping a close eye on a 1960 Omega Seamaster 600 and a rarer 1973 Jules Jurgensen Alhambra. Convincing the wife that I need these is tough though, especially with nowhere to go at the minute to wear them.
My favourite lockdown purchase has actually been a set of four Hairpin Table Legs. I've painted and decorated every room in the house and really got into up-cycling old furniture. A new set of feet can really freshen up an old table!
What I Learned During Lockdown
I'm not the sort of person who thinks the grass is always greener, and my avoidance of social media doesn't allow me to get bogged down envying other people's fantasy lifestyles. I do however crave a fresh challenge now and want to set some new life goals. Although that's probably not the worst trait to have, I think it's actually a lot more reaffirming to be content with what you already have and I've certainly learned to be grateful and appreciate what I have in life.
On a more practical note, I’ve also learned that a roller gives you a much better finish when decorating as opposed to a paint brush.
My Lockdown Saviour(s)
This is the easiest answer of them all; my wife. She became a mum at the beginning of the first lockdown, giving birth to our daughter and she has adjusted to the role so naturally. On top of this she has had to put up with me pottering around the house for long periods at a time. She's an absolute trooper (I'd never tell her that though, obviously).
Positives I’m Taking From Lockdown
I've spent the majority of my daughter’s first year at home with her, which for me is priceless. Aside from that, it's been refreshing to be able to take a step back from life and recharge. For whatever reason, the majority of us lead such busy and hectic lifestyles with only ourselves to blame and that in itself can be quite stressful. Maybe it's because I'm a parent now and my priorities have shifted, but I don't see myself rushing to pack out my calendar with social must-do's.
Getting back to the barbershop
On the first day back I’m most looking forward to buying a Monmouth coffee, sitting on our bench in the sun and talking absolute nonsense with Miles. We've got some serious Liverpool bashing to catch up on that WhatsApp hasn’t quite been able to replicate.
Besides my barbering gear, my Marshall Major III headphones will need dusting off for the commute. The first song I’ll be playing is ‘Echoing’ from the new Kings Of Leon album ‘When You See Yourself’. A new album from your favourite band is always a gift and this track is perfectly upbeat to get me in the mood for a busy day ahead. I’m also excited to give my new Stay Sixty stainless steel water bottle its first outing.
I think it’s very important indeed that men get back to their barbers as soon as they feel up to it. A fresh haircut or beard trim gives everyone that little boost of confidence needed from time to time. We also need to support our local businesses where we can to help us get back to the lives we love living.
Top tips for guys ahead of their first visit back to the barbershop
Book an extended appointment. Your barber will appreciate the extra time more than you can imagine, and you should too! You owe it to yourself. Even if you have a fairly straightforward haircut, it probably won’t have been touched for at least four months, so will need the extra attention. If you are after a real re-style, do your research and have an idea of the end result you are looking for. A lot of guys tend to shy away from it, but showing us any reference pictures always helps.
No doubt there will be a lot of longer do's knocking about and I think a lot of people will be ready to explore a lengthier finish. I think the most popular requests will be for neater backs and sides with longer lengths on top, as messy hair over the ears and across necklines are what bug people the most; especially when having gone months without a trim. Let's see if the ultra-hip mullet survives a second summer too…
My Post-Lockdown Neighbourhood Pit Stops
I'm admittedly not a big eater-out for lunches. I’m honestly happy with a Boots Meal Deal. I'm more excited about that first coffee from Monmouth, who serve some of the best London has to offer (and are also right opposite our barbershop). If I nip over to Murdock Soho, I’ll also pick one up from Hideaway Coffee, which is a great little find just tucked off of Brewer Street.
The Covent Garden team have a few favourite pubs we like to visit on a Saturday evening in the area, but the Nell Gwynne is my number one. A very old school boozer. Mine’s a Guinness, or a lager shandy if it's sunny out. Chuck a bag of nuts in too, as I probably won’t have eaten all day!