A shaving lesson

When a workmate said I’d left a patch of bristle on my chin yet again, on the same day that I’d cut the underside of my nose quite badly, it was time to act. I’d heard that London’s smartest barber, Geo F Trumper, ran shaving lessons, so I booked in. If I was going to do it at all, I thought, I might as well learn to use the manliest razor of them all – the cut-throat.


In Trumpers – a panelled den of Dickensian shaving equipment, posh soaps and expensive unguents – I met my tutor, ‘Mr Melvin’. He escorted me downstairs to a warm little booth and possibly the most comfortable chair in the world.

My first discovery was that the words ‘cut-throat’ made Mr Melvin cower like a nervous elf. “Oh no, Mr Angus, we say ‘open razor’,” he implored, before showing me how to hone the blade sharper than a scalpel on a leather and canvas strop.

Hot towels pressed onto my face for a few minutes, followed by a yellow goo and shaving cream vigorously applied with a badger hair brush, opened pores and softened angry bristles. Brandishing the flashing open razor like Zorro, Mr Melvin shaved my left cheek and chin skilfully, pulling skin taut to expose every follicle. He gave me a tiny cut, then whipped out a ‘styptic pencil’. Usually shaving wounds bleed for hours. The pencil staunched the trickle immediately, leaving only a tiny red dot. Why didn’t I know about this before?


Then it was my turn. After a shaky start – I discovered that the secret is to be firm, while remembering that you’re wielding an edge so keen that it could chop your lips off (perhaps best to keep a safety razor for hungover mornings).

We finished off with moisturiser – “Oh, never aftershave!” cried Mr Melvin, “The alcohol dries out your skin! We advise people to dab aftershave behind their ears.”

Eventually, I strolled out of Trumpers back into the 21st Century, face smooth as papyrus. No more missed patches for me! Not once I’ve worked out how to fit half an hour’s shaving into my day, anyway…


Geo F. Trumper, 9 Curzon Street, London, W1J 5HQ, 0207 499 1850, www.trumpers.com . Two hour open razor shaving lessons cost £75


Copyright Financial Times