I’d like to tell you if I can
about a curly headed man.
He lived inside a wooden shack
his name was Archie Hackenback.
His locks were thick and carrot red,
in curls they twirled around his head.
Without the shadow of a doubt
He had the finest hair about.
Old rusty locks was well aware
that all his friends had far less hair.
Unfortunate it was for these
That Archie was a dreadful tease.
All over town he used to strut
and call them ‘coot’ and ‘coconut’.
or say ‘I must get eggs for tea,
your head has just reminded me.’
On his journey home he’d stop
at Horace Snippet’s Barber Shop.
There he’d sit and have a trim
and niggle those with less than him.
‘It must be great’ he’d say with glee,
‘to have a hairy gent like me.
With all my friends it can’t be fun,
A few quick snips…the job is done!’
Horace never said a word
But thought about a phrase he’d heard.
What you give is what you get.’
Archie hadn’t learnt that yet.
One day when Archie came back home
he found a hair curled round his comb,
and soon discovered plenty more
scattered all about the floor.
On his pillows, on the chairs,
everywhere he looked were hairs,
and in the middle of his thatch
he found a gaping vacant patch.
Archie gasped, aghast, appalled;
‘Help!’ he cried ‘ I’m going bald!’
His hair continued to recede
all over at a lightning speed.
Hour by hour, hair by hair
his curly head became more bare.
He went to bed, distraught, distressed,
and though he slept, he found no rest.
He tossed and turned the whole night through
with nightmares which were coming true
for when the morning sunlight shone…
each and every hair was gone.
‘Oh no’ he cried’ my lovely mane,
‘I’ll never get it back again!’
Then out of Archie’s desperation
there came a flash of inspiration.
He’d seen a bottle stood somewhere,
a potion for restoring hair.
He’s seen it on his latest stop
at Horace Snippet’s Barber Shop.
‘I’ll go and get some now’ he said,
but then a problem raised it’s head.
How could Archie get to town?
His friends would see his naked crown.
‘I know’ he said ‘I’ll deal with that
by hiding it beneath a hat.’
When he got there Archie saw
a notice pinned up on the door.
‘Back soon’ it said,’ please take a seat,
I’ve nipped out for a bite to eat.’
Archie wandered in and saw
the bottle he was looking for.
He popped the cork off and applied
the potion which he found inside
then left the money on the chair
and tip-toed quickly out of there.
With his hat back on his dome
he headed back towards his home.
But as he passed the local gym
some friends of Archie’s spotted him.
Not a word passed through his lips,
no spiteful jibes or wicked quips.
‘What’s wrong with Archie?’ someone said,
‘and what’s he wearing on his head?’
The old men standing there were sure
he’d never worn a hat before.
That made them question why or how
he’d come to want to wear one now.
It seemed the wind was curious too
for suddenly it blew and blew
and much to Archie’s great dismay
it WHOOSHED his great big hat away.
The old men gasped in disbelief
to see what lay there underneath.
No locks, no curls but there instead
was hid a smooth and shiny head!
Soon the word was put about
that Archie’s hair had fallen out
and everyone ran out to see
this terrible catastrophe.
He hung his hairless head in shame
To hear the people chant his name.
‘Look at Archie now’ they called
‘We’d better call him ARCHIBALD!
It had always been a funny joke when he was teasing other folk
but all his sense of fun had gone
now he was being picked upon.
A voice arose inside his head
‘Now you know how it feels’ it said.
Now three weeks later in the town
the old men met and gathered round.
A special meeting had been called
about that man, Archibald.
He’d not been heard, he’d not been seen
they wondered why and where he’d been.
He’s not been spotted since that day
the wind had blown his hat away.
‘I think he’s sulking’ someone said.
‘he’s too ashamed to show his head.’
We made him feel a proper fool,
Perhaps we were a bit too cruel.’
Just then a funny man appeared
with a barrow and a beard.
His bald head glinted in the sun
‘Good-day’ he said to everyone.
‘It’s Archibald’’ the old man cheered
‘He’s grown a most fantastic beard.’
He stood there in his strange disguise
and started to apologise.
‘I’m sorry that I’ve caused you pain,
I’ll never call you names again.
I’ve thought of something I can do
to try and make it up to you.
You’ll have to ask your wives to give
you each a kitchen flour sieve.’
They all agreed through no one guessed
why Archie made this strange request.
From kitchens far across the land,
they hurried back with sieves in hand.
Archie rubbed his hands with glee,
‘Keep close’ he said ‘and follow me.’
And off they went without a stop
to Horace Snippet’s barber Shop.
Horace stood there open eyed.
‘Archie, is it you?’ he cried.
Archie laughed, ‘I know it’s weird
but this is me and here’s my beard,
I’ll pay you twice the normal fee
If you will chop it up for me.
Snip it into lengths I mean,
some long, some short, some in- between.’
Horace, without hesitation
performed this simple operation,
then laid the snippings carefully
in equal piles for all to see.
Archie said ‘Now I’ll begin.’
and this is where the sieves come in.
He threaded through some hair and tied
a knot upon the other side.
When other strands were tied and laid
a little patch of hair was made.
Soon the patch became quite big
and people shouted ‘It’s a wig!
Archie said ‘There’s plenty more,
Whatever are you waiting for?’
With sieves held high the old men cheered
then helped themselves to Archie’s beard.
They knotted wigs in fancy styles
With hair from all the different piles.
Such wigs as you have never seen-
some long, some short, some in-between.
It seemed at last he’d made amends
with all his old and hairless friends.
They formed the brotherhood of wigs
and met each week at Archie’s digs.
And when they met a fellow brother
they doffed their wigs at one another.
However there was one man there
Who came to like his lack of hair.
He cast his hairy wig aside
And wore his shiny head with pride.
Can you guess what he was called?
His name was Brother ARCHIBALD.
First Published by Macmillan in 1991.
(c) copyright Jez Alborough 1991.
Currently out of print.
© Jez Alborough