It’s been over two decades since I’ve been for a haircut. Not that my hair fell out as soon as my teens ended, but around that time I decided that going to the barber was an unnecessary expense. So for years, I had cycles of letting my hair grow for a while, getting sick of it, shaving it, cutting it myself, growing it again, spiking it haphazardly, cutting it all off, etc etc. Until eventually I did what I had always promised myself I would do when my hair started to thin – I shaved it completely to the bone.
So I have no idea what it is like to yearn for my local barber to reopen. Since March, all barbers and hairdressers in the country have remained shut, and are, as things start, not due to reopen until late July. This leaves 25,000 people unemployed as things stand. I have every sympathy for them, and I am all for them getting back to work. Necessary precautions will need to be observed (sanitising and wearing facemasks) but there’s no reason to keep so many people out of work any longer.
This is being debated by the proxy-government at the moment. And it is their glib take on it that sparked my ire. One member of parliament, Kieran O’Donnell, has hyperbolically vented that there is a “multitude of the public going around with hair down to their knees“. Where are this multitude? And how many of them are there? If one’s hair is down to knee-length after a mere three months, then in must have already hung down past the arse. So if someone’s hair was already more than half the length of their entire body, would they be that perturbed if it was a few inches longer again?
You see, many of us are out of work. Many of us are on reduced hours, or at least reduced salaries. Many of us, whether working or not, are worried about the long term security of our jobs. Yet we have elected representatives making such facile and non-sensical comments in parliament, which shows what distant understanding – and contempt – they have of the real issues that affect people. Even in this debate on whether hairdressers and barbers should be open sooner, the focus is not on the jobs that are on hold and in jeopardy, the focus is on people wanting a haircut. The issue from The Irish Tories’ perspective is a focus on people looking less chic, rather than the immeasurably more important concern of people’s livelihoods.
I work in education. We have had zero clarity from the Department of Education on how and when we can get back to work. Hairstyle is a bigger priority it would seem. I am certain that the Department feel they can keep procrastinating, as in their eyes everything can remain on hold until the school and academic year starts again in late August. But what about other parts of the education sector? Language schools? Adult education and training? Literacy programmes? Education in prisons? Post-graduate university study, which runs throughout the calendar year?
All of this remains swept under the carpet. The Department’s only communication is a vague indication of being able to reopen in August, and that all education institutes must submit their own plan of action as to how they will be run with pandemic considerations in mind. So the Department is effectively doing nothing, offering no guidelines, making no plans, and is waiting for the schools and colleges to do their work for them.
No doubt the Minister for Education Joe McHugh is still receiving his massive salary (€180k) though. Even though the parliament was dissolved in February. Four months later we are still waiting for the new government to be formed, and this parasite is coasting along, doing nothing, and living a life of luxury, while hundreds of thousands remain unemployed or are suffering severe anxiety about their jobs.
Still though. At least all those who have lost their jobs will be soon able to go for a haircut they can’t afford. Silver linings. Or silver highlights perhaps.