I came here on February 25th 2014, arrived early the shop was still closed, I’ll pop back.
Walked around the block and found that true to his word, he had re-opened.
I explained my intentions, asking to spend some time in the salon, chat and take some snaps as he worked away.
He was more than happy to accommodate my needs, he worked, we chatted, I snapped. This was some seven years ago now, typically, I forgot to make any written notes. Suffice to say he had been there some 48 years finally retiring on Christmas Eve 2014.
As city centre Manchester changes for good or for bad, the likelihood of a neighbourhood barber appearing is negligible. It was a privilege to spend some time with George, one of many Cypriot immigrants who found work here between and after the wars, we were more than happy to welcome him here.
The Orange Order is a conservative unionist organisation, with links to Ulster loyalism. It campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014. The Order sees itself as defending Protestant civil and religious liberties, whilst critics accuse the Order of being sectarian, triumphalist, and supremacist. As a strict Protestant society, it does not accept non-Protestants as members unless they convert and adhere to the principles of Orangeism, nor does it accept Protestants married to Catholics. Although many Orange marches are without incident, marches through mainly Catholic and Irish nationalist neighbourhoods are controversial and have often led to violence.
On the morning of March 28th 2015 I had taken the train to Scarborough, to spend a few days by the sea. As we passed through Huddersfield and on into deepest Yorkshire, the carriage began to fill up at each stop with men, mainly men.
Men in dark overcoats, men with cropped hair, men sharing an unfamiliar familiarity. Intrigued, I enquired of my cultish companions the what, where, when and why of their collective purpose.
It transpired that they were all adherents of the Orange Order, Scarborough bound to participate in the annual Orange March.
On arrival we parted, but we were to meet up later in the day – I walked down to the foreshore and waited.
This is what I saw.
This year the march was cancelled.
You wouldn’t want anyone to catch anything, would you now?