Nicked by ‘Sweeney Todd’ as bobbies looked on

From: Ken Brooke, Main Street, Leconfield.

Ian McMillan’s article on shaving (Yorkshire Post, November 6) reminded me of the time I was being shown around the beat in Beverley in the mid-60s. My mentor one late shift was Pc 49 of the East Riding Constabulary, the chain smoking Bill Coverdale. Bill was showing me the “Market Beat”.

Our first port of call was somewhat surprising, it was a barber’s shop in Lairgate. It was like entering the world of one of Charles Dickens’ characters,

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The barber, Cyril, was bald as a coot and knew of only one way to cut hair, short back and sides.

What was the purpose of our visit? Officially it was to make enquiries of local missing persons. However, it soon became clear to me that the first reason was to allow Bill to enjoy his first full strength Capstan cigarette of the 3pm to 11pm shift, together with a cup of tea. The second reason was that Bill was a master at winding poor Cyril up. Be it politics or sport, Cyril took the bait. Bill always took the opposite view to Cyril, with the result that Cyril would get extremely agitated and very demonstrative.

Now at this point, it is worth bearing in mind that whilst this debate was taking place, Cyril was at work on a customer who was no doubt filled with terror as he saw a cut-throat razor flashing back and forth.

For my part, I sat mesmerised at the amount of blood pouring from the poor customer’s neck, hardly surprising as Cyril was unable to control his implement due to rage.

Cyril was never one to allow 
the customer a rear view of his work, for had he done so, it 
would have revealed an array 
of tissue paper, used to soak 
up the blood, an acceptable practice, which appeared to do the trick.

Eventually it was time to move on. We left Cyril, having seen him turn into a modern version of Sweeney Todd, with the next customer looking anxiously on.