Category Archives: New Malden

The hairdressers of New Malden

You’re looking for a book that isn’t by James Patterson or Maeve Binchy.

You’re under 30 and you fancy a new shirt or a pair of trainers.

You like browsing around antique stores or record shops, or enjoy buying your meat from a butcher and your fish from a fishmonger.

If any of these apply to you, you can safely give New Malden High Street a miss. Try Wimbledon or Kingston instead. But if you want a haircut, then our high street is definitely THE place to come.

At the last count there were no fewer than 11 hairdressers on this half-mile strip of road. (That’s excluding the slightly dodgy-looking ones located up narrow staircases, behind single doorways at the side of shops.) In New Malden, only estate agents and food outlets are thicker on the ground.

Right next to the station, this is probably New Malden’s busiest barbershop.
No one who works here is called Sam.

Inside Sam’s.

Judy isn’t clear about whether to include an apostrophe, so covers her bases.
Judy is also as real as Sam.

Inside Judy’s. Or Judys. Note the modern, understated furniture.

Located just doors away from Judy’s. #koreanhairfight

Inside The Hair Salon. You don’t get that kind of wallpaper at John Lewis.

The long-established Headmasters.

Headmasters was one of just three shops that wouldn’t let me take a shot inside. “We have a marketing department, and they’re very strict on that sort of thing.” Surprisingly, it is also the only local hairdresser to have a hair-based pun in its name.

New Malden’s newest hairdressers*

* Actually, it’s difficult to tell with this site. Hairdresser shops tend to come and go here, sometimes starting off as one neat single store, then growing to become double-fronted before being trimmed back to a single shop. The staff can vary in sex, number and ethnicity, while the name of the shop changes with the frequency of Lady Gaga’s hairstyle.

Only an hour before this picture was taken, ‘BARBERS SHOP’ occupied the left hand side while the food takeaway ‘Baguette, Set, Go’ enjoyed its all-too-brief existence on the right.

Inside Sam & Sunny’s. No idea who’s who.

“J-j-j-ust a haircut please”

Inside Sopranos.

Dee biarsee? Die Bias? No idea.

Apparently there’s been a DiBiase salon in New Malden since 1914. I hope they’ll be playing lots of Haircut 100 next year.

No interior shots, I’m afraid. I know you’re massively disappointed.

Apparently, essensuals is ‘the diffusion group of Toni and Guy’, although it looked like a ‘hairdressers’ to me.

Inside essensuals.

The strangest retail pairing in history.

From the outside, Carrington Wood looks (and sounds) like an estate agents. Then you notice those posters in the window  advertising eyebrow threading and waxing. So what exactly is it? Well, it’s perhaps Surrey’s first hybrid estate agent/beauty parlour/hairdresser/lettings agent. Inside, the front of the shop has a few office desks and filing cabinets in the typical (though slightly down at heel) estate-agent style, while the back is given over to the hair and beauty side of the business. They wouldn’t let me photograph inside the shop, evidently thinking it a bit of an odd request. They know all about odd at Carrington Wood.

“Hi! I’m looking for a Victorian semi, three beds, about £350,000?”
“Sorry mate, the best we can offer is a modern semi for £395,000.”
“Oh. Shame. How about a number two on top and a one on the side?”

Just as some of the best New York shows are found off-Broadway…

Here’s George. Unlike Sam or Judy or Sunni or the other Sam, I’m pretty sure George is his real name. He’s cut hair in New Malden since the 1970s and I don’t think he’s ever going to expand into eyebrow threading, diffusion products or real estate.

£9 to you, squire.

PS – thanks to New Maldenite Matt Lord (@ThatChapLordy on twitter), we now have a pic of the hairdressers that catered for the very, very old of New Malden. Bebe was demolished in 2006 to make way for a vacant area of rubble.

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Malcolm Gladwell could get a book out of this

Whatever combination of methods you take to get to work, I’m pretty sure there’s one thing you have in common with everyone else.

That’s the desire to make the journey as quick as possible. If there’s a shortcut that doesn’t involve you being exposed to more congestion or danger or whatever, you’re likely to take it. Even if it just means taking a second off your journey.

Cutting corners: commuters shaving nanoseconds off their journey have killed the grass. That and no rainfall.

That’s why I found myself perplexed by the actions of most of the commuters in my neighbourhood.

Faced with a choice of several different routes to the local railway station, people will invariably choose the longest one. All the potential routes (save one) involve walking down similar suburban streets. The shortest route doesn’t take you past a noisy factory, a dangerous intersection or groups of hoodies lurking outside a crack den. This is New Malden after all.

So why do people take the longer route? And anyway, how do I know that some routes are quicker than others? What kind of a saddo am I?

Hump hunch

When I first moved into the area, I too took the longer route. I didn’t know it at the time – I’d thought that each of the roads to the station was about the same length, but then I noticed something a little odd.

(That’s odd for people like me, who are good at spotting life’s trivialities but who dismally fail to remember things like relatives’ birthdays.)

The thing I noticed was that some roads on the way to the station had more speed humps than others.

I know, it’s a revelation. It’s like my very own Roswell.

I dimly remembered reading somewhere that there were rules and regs concerning the height, positioning and spacing of road humps.

So I reasoned that if there was an equal distance between the humps, and that one road had more humps than others, ergo it would be a longer road.

There are duller blogs, believe me

So I went to Google maps and took a look. Yup. The answer was right there, staring me in the face.

The Groves area of New Malden, showing the route almost everyone takes to get to the station.

The roads that I had initially thought were roughly the same length weren’t anything of the sort.

Lime Grove was a bit longer than Sycamore Grove.

Chestnut Grove was a bit longer still. And outlonging them all was the mighty Acacia Grove.

I sat back, my mind a blizzard of flurrying contradictions. What I had naively thought of as a rectangular grid-like pattern of roads – like Wandsworth’s famous toast rack – was no such thing. It was a quadrilateral alright, but with more of the unmistakeable characteristics of an isosceles trapezoid. Erk!

So why do people approaching from the north and west of Poplar Grove not take Sycamore Grove? One reason is that they don’t really give a toss how long their journey takes. The problem with this is that it would contravene the rock-solid hypothesis I posed in the second paragraph. We can’t have that.

The other reason is down to perception. I think there’s a widespread assumption that Poplar Grove runs parallel to New Malden High Street. So anyone approaching Poplar Grove would see the road they’re on appear to bend to the left, or north, after the intersection. In other words, it would seem to take them further away from their destination.

That would conflict with the shortest-route-possible principle. So instead of taking Sycamore, Lime or Chestnut Groves, most people will walk past all three and take Acacia Grove instead. The longest route possible but, according to their perception, the shortest.

Longest, that is, apart from The Cut. The Cut is a path that runs alongside the railway line. It’s quite a pleasant walk, but for some reason almost everyone snubs this route. I have no idea why.

Nest week, how to drive at speed between steel bollards.

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