Cream Strop and Blade
With the Australian Psychic Barber – Bec Campbell
Walking the streets of Worcester UK, side-by-side in downtown Lowesmore, a row of Barbershops sit erect. Standing to attention just as the Queen’s royal guards would be expected to. The Blue, Red and White stripes of their Barber Poles point to the skies of old Blighty, just as impressive as the Union Jack that flies high on occasion, above the royal palace 200 km south-west of the great cathedral city.
Inspiration in this incredible town flows just as freely as the ancient Severn River it resides beside. Early 18th century graves sit back-to-back in Astwood’s Cemetery, whilst Roman occupation and the 1651 Battle of Worcester are remembered in the ancient ruins and Commandry museums. Worcester’s fine bone china had its humble beginnings upon this land, and one can surely not forget to mention the iconic Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.
For me, this incredible city is also the starting point of my very own journey. It is here amongst the cobblestones and Tudor cottages, the Antiques, and stained-glass windows that my passion and love for all things Tonsorial began; and with a history dating back to 1540 (when the company of Barbers merged with the London College of Surgeons creating the Company of Barber-Surgeons), this town and this country was for me the epitome of being in the right place at the right time. I was essentially residing in a part of the world richest in Barber history, and from what I was witnessing currently, a resurgence was imminent, and the Cream Strop and Blade were about to be reborn.
Returning to Australia with my knowledge of what was coming, I was desperate to find a foothold in the Australian Barber Industry door. There were no training academies at this time and my phone calls and emails requesting an apprenticeship fell on deaf ears.
Passionate about straight blade shaving (a service unto its own rich in romance and history), I even went as far as New Zealand to see if I could find an open door. I was driven by the memory of the old strop and shaving scuttle my grandfather used to use when I was a child. He believed the blade always gave a better shave and was sharper than the safety razor. But just as there was nothing like the smell of lather and leather or the sound of the blade gliding across a freshly prepared cheek, there was nothing available that would see me anywhere near my dream fulfillment of becoming a Barber. Slowly I resigned myself to never being able to do more than admire the trade as an outsider and all the incredible iconic images and history that had inspired me thus far on my journey. For now, it had to be enough.
Returning to my old trade as a Psychic Medium, my life picked up where it had left off and I resumed my daily ritual of talking to the dead. Day in and day out people came to me searching for answers and searching for guidance. Whilst I enjoyed my connection with Spirit and the work I did, secretly I longed for more. It was a hard dream to give up on and I knew the Barber industry had caught my attention for a reason. I was a healer first and foremost and with a past rich in healing history, from bloodletting to amputation and tooth pulling, I knew this trade was my ally in helping others.
The advertisement in a local trading post read – Ten Contestants required for Barber Reality TV Show. The ad explained that a reality TV show was being filmed in Australia by a London Barber and they were searching for ten hopefuls without experience to train and battle it out to become Australia’s first Reality TV Barber.
I read the advertisement several times before I sat down at my computer and sent in my single-page entry. In the back of my mind, I doubted anything would ever come of it. Who would want to hire a 46+ year old fat lesbian? So, when the email came back that I had made it to the shortlist and screen test stage, I honestly shook my head in disbelief. I struggled to believe that this was really happening!
While I sat reading Auras at Australia’s largest New Age festival, I received a live conference call to say I had won a place on The LBM TV show. Filming was to start in a few months and teasers and trailers for the show would commence in the following weeks.
Being a contestant on this show was nothing less than life-altering. I have never doubted or feared so much, nor had I driven myself to succeed as much as I had at this time in my life. I made some lifelong friends that became in so many ways family, however slowly, over the weeks and throughout the training and eliminations, the contestants dwindled down in numbers until only four of us remained. After some on-air controversy, and further production troubles, however I was forced to rethink my own pathways; and so, with a heavy heart, I decided it was best at this time for me to leave the show. In recent months a formal Barber Certificate had been developed and I felt that it was in my best interest to further my journey by enrolling myself in the newly accredited Certificate III in Barbering.
While studying, I began to follow a couple of women in Queensland who were starting to make a name for themselves, both as female Barbers and as trailblazers in non-for-profit fundraising for the homeless. The Jack Reed Foundation had been provided a government grant that would enable hair haircuts for the homeless. The girls were incredibly inspirational for me and their roles as mentors were invaluable. I had already been cutting hair for the homeless in Melbourne for some time and that experience only fuelled my passion to work with those less fortunate than I. It was therefore a no-brainer when the time came, and I was presented with the opportunity to work with them on the 1000 Cuts for the Homeless campaign.
With two chairs and a custom-built Barber van, we headed out to caravan parks, mental health hospitals and drop-in centers. Stories from the chair were shared day in and day out by so many incredible people that for one reason or another had fallen on hard times. These people and their stories captured our attention and touched our hearts. Dignity through transformation became the focus of The Jack Reed Foundation, and the people and their stories became the vision and the drive that would make the foundation one of Australia’s fastest growing non-for-profit organisations. Kids as young as ten were (and still are) living in midway caravan parks, living off welfare, on the streets, or surrounded by families and individuals suffering mental health of the worst kind. These people to me were just as deserving as anyone else to have the opportunity to look good and feel good, so no matter what their situation or circumstances were, they would get the best darn service I had to offer. In return and in payment their eyes blazing with gratitude and hope and their smiles were worth far more than money could ever buy. This was recourse at its finest and I was so blessed to be a part of it.
It was during the filming of LBM and during my time with the homeless that I also realised there was a real pressing urgency for an upgrade in mental health, guidance, and general wellbeing. I also came to the realisation that as Barbers we had the perfect opportunity to make a real difference in the life of others, and that for me as a Psychic Medium, that opportunity extended even further because not only was I able to see the pain and conflict within a person, but I was also able to see it in the Aura, sometimes referred to as our soul essence and lifeforce.
In the past personal issues between men were rarely spoken of and with many older generations being brought up in emotionally suppressed families, and many younger generations being too scared to talk in fear of persecution or judgement, their fear, anger, hatred, grief… was all held within. This made for a very introverted and disgruntled soul.
Nowadays the face of Barbering has changed somewhat and an egalitarian approach to generic wellbeing has been embraced. As Barbers, both Male and Female, we are the listeners and guidance givers, and all people are deserving of our help no matter what gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. Every single person that sits in my chair I believe is deserving the best available service whilst feeling safe accepted and respected.
Being a Jewish Gay woman, I have come across much discrimination in my time and my experience both as a Barber and as a humanitarian has taught me some very valuable life lessons.
It is these lessons that I believe now benefit others, for without having gone through such hardships and lessons myself, I would not now be able to relate to ALL my clients.
Every stroke of the comb, snip of the shear, or scrape of the blade changes the energetic balance of the body. It’s human contact, something humanity needs the most but also something believe it or not they reject and fear the most! Remember Sampson and how he lost all his strength to Delila? How many Native Americans have you seen with Short hair? Not many, because this culture as in many other cultures believe the strength of the person lies within the hair. So as Barbers when we work on someone’s hair, we are in fact working on their energetic alignment and personal power. People that have been through a life-altering tragedy or trauma will sometimes come into the Barbershop and ask for their hair or beard to be removed, re-shaped and restyled. This is because their external appearance no longer fits their internal blueprint and for them to bring balance to their life, something radical must be achieved.
Likewise, the Barbershop having been for centuries a haven and institution for the male sex, has had to change with the times to survive and grow.
Whereas the shop was once a shop for gentleman’s business, urbanisation has seen it evolve into something much more. Nowadays both female Barbers and female clientele are embraced and revered in the industry.
There is still the odd ‘Traditional’ Barbershop standing on the street, with the old quartet music blasting in the background, and there is still a history still so rich in healing and wellbeing. The Barbers and their chairs are the custodians of many secrets. We hold honest ears and an unbiased voice. We are all healers too and to deny this fact is truly irresponsible.
For me now, my journey continues and no matter where I work in the world the shears and clippers are just as much a part of me as my gift in talking to Spirit. Each week I host an online show aptly named ‘The Barber Banter’ where my online chair is open to those in need to discuss anything they wish to. Of course, I do LIVE readings and talk about my experiences as a female Barber, offer guidance where I can and generally give people hope where hope may not have previously existed.
All these years later, it has all come together and I know that this journey is far from over yet.
My chair is a haven for the weary soul just as much as my shears are an extension of who I am.
I am The Australian Psychic Barber and for me … this is far more than I could ever have hoped for.