'Is there consciousness after death?': How to take small talk with your barber to the next level

HALF an hour at the barber’s can feel like an eternity when you have to fill the time with shit small talk. Here are some conversation starters to take things up a gear.

Is there consciousness after death?

F**k it. Get heavy straight off the bat. Show your barber you’re not messing about by questioning whether death truly is the end before he’s even got the clippers out. Move onto questions of eschatology while he’s doing round your ears. There’s no going back to mindless holiday chat once you’ve rolled out these big guns.

What is love?

Add a new, intimate dynamic to the conversation by discussing the apex of human connection. Don’t be afraid to make lots of intense eye contact via the mirror so that he knows he can be open and vulnerable with you. It might get a bit weird, but it beats blathering on about how warm it’s been recently.

Are you happy with your life?

Another great way to avoid mind-numbing prattle is by sending your barber into an existential crisis. Nobody wants to talk about last night’s match while they’re taking a harrowing look back upon their many failures and regrets.  

Which political party do you support and which god do you believe in?

If you want to have a real, grown-up conversation with your barber, you’ll need to know what he believes in. Just ask outright for his religious and political views. Assuming they align perfectly with your own, there’s virtually nothing that could go wrong.

Who shot JFK?

Everyone loves a mystery – and the assassination of President Kennedy is one of the best. You’ll still be debating the possibility of a second gunman on the grassy knoll by the time you’re saying your goodbyes and wondering how long it will take to grow back after he cut it slightly shorter than you’d really have liked.

Will you come on holiday with me?

Why get rid of the cliched chit-chat when you can subvert it instead? The next time your barber asks if you’ve got any holidays planned, tell him you’re going to Majorca with your family and that you’d love for him to join you as guest of honour. Goodbye small talk. Hello new best friend.

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Studio 54 and other 'legendary' places that were probably a bit shit

WAS Studio 54 just as loud, smelly and sticky as any other club you’ve had the misfortune to visit? Probably. And these other places would have sucked too:

Studio 54

Studio 54 was renowned for extravagant events, excessive drug use and a laissez-faire attitude towards open sexual activity. It sounds louche and outrageous, but is it actually enjoyable to be around people off their tits on coke shagging in plain sight? No. And as for Bianca Jagger riding a horse onto the dance floor, well, it’s all fun and games until someone slips on a big shit.

The Moulin Rouge

The film made this world-famous nightclub look like it was fabulous in its 1890s heyday, but all those attractive dancers and cabaret stars would not have looked that sexy, given the lack of access to dentists and fresh vegetables. And anyway, Satine would have killed the lot of them by breathing pulmonary TB everywhere before she expired herself.

The Haçienda

Everyone raves about the Haçienda, but people mainly thought it was good because they were off their faces on ecstasy. If you weren’t you were basically spending the evening in a warehouse with an excess of yellow hazard warning stripes. The drugs also attracted gangsters, and someone firing a gun in the foyer does tend to spoil the Summer-of-Love, let’s-all-take-E-and-hug vibe.

The Cavern Club

Liverpool’s Cavern Club was famously the birthplace of The Beatles, which means everyone assumes it must have been amazing. However, apparently it was horribly overcrowded, the sound was shit and it didn’t have a bar until 1967. Which would have made for a terrible night out, even if a youthful Lennon and McCartney were standing on the stage in front of you. Or, more probably, Cilla Black.

The 100 Club

The 100 Club was the spiritual home of punk, with the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Buzzcocks playing on a regular basis. Sounds cool from a distance of 50 years, but it would have been hideous at the time: full of spitting, spotty youths aggressively pogoing to badly played instruments and occasionally punching each other. Thank God kids nowadays channel their unfocused anger into incomprehensible TikTok videos about gender issues.