David Thompson was right. It probably did feel like an obituary.
“Now he’s gone,” read The Weekend Sun story about barber Werner Gamma’s departure. “The scissors have fallen silent.”
For Werner’s regulars it felt like there had been a death – or at least a limb removed.
“I didn’t know Werner had left until I read your story” says David Thompson, a Werner Gamma customer at Strandz End Barbers for the thick end of two decades. That’s a lot of haircuts.
“At first, I thought I was reading an obituary!” At least there was good news there. Werner was still alive.” He’s very alive, and now living on a lifestyle block just south of Mangonui.
“Werner was a good friend who I had entrusted for many years to tidy me back into shape,” said David’s tribute. “There would be no more shared stories, tales of travel holidays and music concerts, new artists or listening to his terrible rude jokes, all of which were mainstay anchor points during those visits.”
It’s interesting what tickles people and what triggers interest. The Weekend Sun has received a lot of very positive feedback about this very alive man’s obituary. “I just wanted to let you known how pleased I was to see your article on Werner,” wrote Chris Lee. “Very nice.”
They’re mostly from blokes who’d warmed Werner’s chair, but there’s even from the partner of a customer who got to know Werner vicariously. “Liked it,” she said.
David tracked Werner down in Mangonui and got an email with some photos of his new land block. “It looks great, and he and his partner sound very happy there. He has age 70 in his sights. Anchor points take on more meaning with age. But I understood your article and shared its sentiments.”
He told Werner he could easily have swapped his salon on The Strand for a little bar playing old blues music. “That would have become a favourite too. Lots to be missed.”
There was another idea. Perhaps, if there was enough support, Werner could be commissioned to return to Tauranga every couple of months – a sort of hit, snip and run.
Then last week, a fully-fledged Swiss from Lucerne now domiciled in Tauranga burst enthusiastically into The Weekend Sun office. This Swiss was a chef who always wanted to be a barber.
Of course, Werner was a Swiss barber who always wanted to be a chef. That could have been a wonderful union of skill and knowledge, but it wasn’t to be.
“Anyhow,” says David, “thanks for your article. Nice job.”
Brad is running the Strandz End Barbers now – a quietly enthusiastic young man who learned from one of the best.