Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Great hat. great service

The strange thing about social media is that so many people think they can give you advice about anything whether they know you or not. For example, I decided I wanted a hat and asked on Twitter where I could get one. One bloke said there'd be enough time for hats when I was old and ga-ga (he did apologise later).

OK, so I'm having a couple of hereditary cysts removed from my head and I wanted a hat. There can be all sorts of reasons for wanting something like this. Only, I look terrible in a woolly beanie, always have.

So I was pleased when I had Laird London recommended to me and particularly pleased by the reception I had in the shop (I went to the Covent Garden branch on New Row). The guy let me look around in my own time then asked whether he could help.


I told him a little about the operation, and about how this would leave me with a few temporary bald patches. I told him that my ears stick out a little so a brim should ideally stick out a little more, but nothing too Indiana Jones or mid-life crisis. He asked a bit about what I wore and my preferred styles.

We ended up with a Trilby, very nice it is too. It's grey so I can wear it with different outfits. I opted for the budget version in wool as I don't anticipate a longer-term need; I might go back and get something in furfelt later on for £165 or so if I really take to wearing the things and, let's be honest, if I feel like splashing out that much cash on something and am in a position to do so.

Two things struck me. First the hats were good quality - these people make their own. Second and more important, the guy listened carefully to what I wanted and why, and came up with pretty much the perfect solution. I came out happy to recommend the shop to anyone; this, my friends, is how you run a business.

(There was also a decanter of whisky and a glass on the counter. I didn't ask.)

Friday, 1 March 2013

Grooming gadgets

One of the least appealing things about reaching middle age is the things your barber suddenly starts attacking. I was in the chair a few weeks ago and he solicitously started snipping not only the hair I intended but also a quick clip of nasal hair and inside the ears.

I have rewritten that first sentence three times to try and make myself sound better. It doesn't work.

So I was pleased when among all the stuff Sassoon for Men is releasing lately, including a number of beard trimmer products (as people who read this blog regularly will realise I quite enjoy being clean shaven), included the Titan Series 'hygiene trimmer'. It's nicelty designed, not too expensive, does the job, is easily washable and unlike my last one from Boots' own-brand range, it has a flat base so it stands up in the bathroom cabinet. I'm amazed more people don't think of this when designing these things.

The other gadget I've been playing with is a clever nail clipper from StylFile, the company owned by Tom Pellereau and Lord Sugar sparked by Pellereau's win on The Apprentice. Pellereau, you might remember, was a bit of a boffin and a very good thinker. Yes, he came up with the "emergency biscuit" when they were asked to design a biscuit but actually being prepared to throw any idea out and see if people react is a good thing.

This time he's attacked the concept of nail clippers. They generally have parallel blades so they more or less snap the nail off, which then flies around the room. If they had a scissor motion, he's presumably reasoned, then the nail would simply fall into the bin. And that's what he's done - very simple indeed and like all good inventions, obvious with hindsight.

Would I have put his face on the front of a beauty brand? I'll pass on that, but then I wouldn't put mine there either.