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Haircuts, Football and a Beach – Freebies in London Town

By Colin Robinson

Being a recent graduate I was given the task to source out what the Capital of England has to offer for free. Not really, my student loan has run out and Mummy and Daddy have refused to give me any more money, they said it will be “character building” for me but the stress of finding a paid job is a consistent ball ache.

Having sold the majority of my DVD collections, my two next gen consoles and games, I’ve got a couple of hundred to start on, although that quickly went on gas, electric, rent, council tax, tv license, internet and food. Fuck. Welcome to the real fucking World. Kinda wish I didn’t spend 3 years at Uni pissing my student loan up against the wall through alcohol consumption, play.com and topshop.

If you’re going to Uni, put all that student loan a-side, knowing once you graduate, there’s not going to be a job for you, unless you’re doing a degree is something smart like science or specific like footwear technology.

It probably wasn’t the best time to test out what London has to offer for free during the Olympics because, it was more packed than usual and everyone tried to cash in on the flurry of visitors the games had attracted.

A few weeks ago I thought I’d cracked it, after visiting a dingy rock club in the west end, I found myself at the DJ’s house with plenty of others for an impromptu after the party. There was Jack Daniels bottles on tap, plus a shit load of drugs like meow, meow – which I thought was strictly banned but that’s what it was, or it’s ugly sister. Apparently none of this constitutes as ‘free’ so it was scrapped from the list.

Since the weather was sunny last weekend I was invited for a drink by some Uni mates (girls, I’ll have you know) in Camden Town. We usually go to the Ice Wharf to sit by the stinky canal but this time we went to Roundhouse after overhearing someone talking about a Beach.

The rumours were indeed true, although there were a lot of kids around building sand castles, which was weird considering all the people over 18 without kids were there to drink alcohol and get a sun tan.

 I could only afford one fucking drink at £4.50 for a small bottle of bear but I did enjoy sitting back in a deckchair with my bare feet in the sand. It was probably builder’s sand though, that’s been pissed and shat in by rats and foxes at night time. But it was free entry, and probably worth checking out whilst the Sun is still out to play this summer.

Another freebie I found was playing Football. The season starts again this weekend so I thought I’d try my skills at the local park in Regents. I only went with myself a ball to do some keepy-uppies but got invited to join a game and had a fun time, so much so I am going back next week.

It might not be as smooth as playing at GOALS or Power League but at least I didn’t have to fork out £10 to play. It was all free, apart from your own motivation.

Last week I had a job interview with an estate agent, which didn’t really look like an estate agents or what I imagined one to look like. It was dodgy and although it was a bit nicer than Barry’s car lot office from Eastenders, it looked like it had been made over night.

The bloke interviewing asked me when I’m planning on getting a haircut. I guess I had let it grow a bit wild but the last time I got a trim it cost me forty fucking quid at Toni & Guy. And it was shit. I looked like Justin Bieber.

Besides, I kinda got use to the Mod-come-Beatles-come-Hippy look that it had grown into but I guess you’re not going to get a job with it. I found a local barbers cutting hair for £5 but was put off by the cheap price and also the fact that the Polish women inside appeared to look extremely angry.

A mate told me about places offering free haircuts, usually done by students who need real people to practice on. I had horrible thoughts of Bart Simpson and his dodgy haircut in that episode from years ago but I didn’t really have much choice.

I could pay for a shit one or get a shit one for free. If it is really bad, I can just shave it off myself and look like a Nazi for the next few months.

After replying to some gumtree ads, I finally got mine done in Shoreditch, the trend centre of London.

I was expecting some pretentious art students prancing around a warehouse conversion, pretending to be the next Trevor Sorbie but I was wrong.

It was run by a bunch of cockney geezers in a basement of an old office building, but there were plenty of people there getting haircuts and people of all backgrounds, young and old, poor and the rich.

Next to me was a bloke in a suit who was telling the cocky teenager giving him a shave that he’s a business executive for the Olympics. But here he is getting a free shave and trim in some dingy room.

I was given a portfolio of styles and was told to choose one by this 40 year old geezer from Chiswick. Or what he called “CHIZ ICK”.

Thinking I’d picked something relatively easy for him to do, he seemed to get very agitated and called over a block called Tony or what he called “TOE KNEE”.

After a long reassurance by Tony, who I assumed was the boss and an actual qualified hairdresser there to cover up any major fuck-up’s, my hair was being hacked at.

Two hours later, I had a style straight out of the 1950’s which looked a bit too retro for my liking but thought at least I’d fit in around the area. Since then it’s been alright, considering I didn’t pay a penny. The qualified hairdresser took over most of the job in the end too so I ended up getting a good cut by someone qualified.

That’s 40 quid well saved then. I guess London does have some shit for free but I won’t stop here, there must be other free shit out there or I’ll be selling the big issue come Winter!

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