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When David steps out of the front door he is blinded for a moment by the white, fizzing sunlight and reaches instinctively for his dad’s hand. It’s the first really warm day of the year, an unexpected heat that bridges the cusp between spring and summer. Father and son are on their way to the barbershop, something they have always done together.

Always, the routine is the same. ‘It’s about time we got that mop of yours cut,’ David’s dad will say, pointing at him with two fingers, a cigarette wedged between them. ‘Perhaps I should do it. Where are those shears, Janet?’ Sometimes his dad chases him round the living room, pretending to cut off his ears. When he was young David used to get too excited and start crying, scared that maybe he really would lose his ears, but he has long since grown out of that.

Mr. Samuels’ barbershop is in a long room above the chip shop, reached by a steep flight of stairs. There is a groove worn in each step by the men who climb and descend in a regular stream. David follows his father, annoyed that he cannot make each step creak like his old man can.

David loves the barbershop — it’s like nowhere else he goes. Black and white photographs of men with various out-of-fashion hairstyles hang above a picture rail at the end of the room, where two barber’s chairs are bolted to the floor. They are heavy, old-fashioned chairs with foot pumps that hiss and chatter as Mr. Samuels, the rolls of his plump neck squashing slightly, adjusts the height of the seat. In front of the chairs are deep sinks with a showerhead and long metal hose attached to the taps. Behind the sinks are mirrors and on either side of these, shelves overflowing with a mixture of plastic combs, shaving mugs, scissors, cut throat razors, hair brushes and, stacked neatly in a pyramid, 10 bright red tubs of Brylcreem.

At the back of the room sit the customers, silent for most of the time, except when Mr Samuels breaks off from cutting and takes a drag on his cigarette, sending a wisp of grey-blue —– like the tail of kite twisting into the air.

When it is David’s turn for a cut, Mr Samuels places a wooden board covered with a piece of oxblood red leather across the arms of the chair, so that the barber doesn’t have to stoop to cut the boy’s hair. David scrambles up onto the bench.

‘The rate you’re shooting up, you won’t need this soon, you’ll be sat in the chair,’ the barber says. ‘Wow,’ says David, squirming round to look at his dad, forgetting that he can see him through the mirror. ‘Dad, Mr. Samuels said I could be sitting in the chair soon, not just on the board!’ ‘So I hear,’ his father replies, not looking up from the paper. ‘I expect Mr Samuels will start charging me more for your hair then.’ ‘At least double the price,’ said Mr Samuels, winking at David. Finally David’s dad looks up from his newspaper and glances into the mirror, seeing his son looking back at him. He smiles.

In the mirror David sees a little head sticking out of a long nylon cape that Mr. Samuels has swirled around him and folded into his collar with a wedge of cotton wool. Occasionally he steals glances at the barber as he works. He smells a mixture of stale sweat and aftershave as the barbers moves around him, combing and snipping, combing and snipping. David feels like he is in another world, noiseless except for the scuffing of the barber’s shoes on the lino and the snap of his scissors. In the reflection from the window he could see a few small clouds moving slowly to the sound of the scissors’ click.

When Mr. Samuels has finished, David hops down from the seat, rubbing the itchy hair from his face. Looking down he sees his own thick, blonde hair scattered among the browns, greys and blacks of the men who have sat in the chair before him. For a moment he wants to reach down and gather up the broken blonde locks, to separate them from the others, but he does not have time.

The sun is still strong when they reach the pavement outside the shop, but it is less fiery now, already beginning to drop from its zenith. ‘Let’s get some fish and chips to take home, save your mum from cooking tea,’ says David’s dad. The youngster is excited and grabs his dad’s hand. The thick-skinned fingers close gently around his and David is surprised to find, warming in his father’s palm, a lock of his own hair.

ВОПРОС 1. Sometimes David’s dad chases him round the living room because
1) he intends to take him to the barbershop.
2) he wants to frighten David.
3) he wants to cut off David’s ears.
4) he intends to cut David’s hair with the shears.

ВОПРОС 2. In paragraph 3 ‘a groove’ means
1) a kind of clothes worn by the men who come to the barbershop.
2) a special perfume.
3) a thin cut into a wooden surface.
4) a creak that each step makes.

ВОПРОС 3. Mr. Samuels
1) has got a modern barbershop.
2) is a rich barber.
3) has got very few customers.
4) is slightly fat.

ВОПРОС 4. Mr. Samuels places a wooden board across the arms of the chair because
1) he wants David to sit comfortably while cutting.
2) he would like David to see himself in the mirror.
3) he doesn’t want to bend while cutting the boy’s hair.
4) in this case he doesn’t have to work hard.

ВОПРОС 5. Mr. Samuels says he will charge double the price for David’s hair because
1) he intends to raise the price of the haircut.
2) David has already grown up.
3) he is kidding.
4) he needs to buy a new chair.

ВОПРОС 6. David feels like he is in another world because
1) he has never been to the barbershop.
2) he can hear almost no sounds.
3) he smells a mixture of stale sweat and aftershave.
4) he can see a few small clouds in the sky.

ВОПРОС 7. David’s hair is
1) fair.
2) grey.
3) brown.
4) red.

ВОПРОС 1: – 2
ВОПРОС 2: – 3
ВОПРОС 3: – 4
ВОПРОС 4: – 3
ВОПРОС 5: – 3
ВОПРОС 6: – 2
ВОПРОС 7: – 1