Chris Winter’s Barbers Shop and Maternity Ward
Featured Image: Chris deftly at work in his shearer’s shed in Liverpool Street, Scone. Chris’s Uncle Freddy Winter is in the chair. I think he specialised in rough wool old wethers? There were lots of us around whenever I was there. In Irish parlance the ‘Craic’ was always both fulfilling and illuminating. It used to be called ‘bullshit’ but the hirsute cranial reduction academy was much too erudite for that. Philosophers abounded led by the late great Ken McDonald of ‘Whissonsett’, Timor. He was unmatched in the philosophy stakes. “Gentlemen. Do you have a considered opinion on the current consummate status of pigs?” “Truly amazing”.
The philosopher’s stone, or more properly philosophers’ stone, is a mythic alchemical substance capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold (from the Greek, “gold” and “to make”) or silver. It is also called the elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and for achieving immortality; for many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal in alchemy. Harry Potter was on to it. So were many truth seekers who visited Chris on roughly monthly assignments.
I shared a few anecdotes. Chris and I invented a rating for the ‘Great Gutsby’, the ‘Greater Gutsby’ and the ‘Greatest Gutsby’. F Scott Fitzgerald wrote brilliantly about the Great Gatsby (Jay Gatsby) in New York but we didn’t have any of those, so we countered with our local variety of which there were plenty. We both arrived at the same decision(s) for clear winners in each category.
On one memorable occasion Chris’s academy doubled as a pre-natal maternity ward. Perhaps I should explain? Shane from Willow Tree had arrived with his charming young wife who was 39 weeks well into her primiparous pregnancy. Contractions had started but Shane wanted a haircut. Where Shane was reared in the bush you didn’t waste time hanging about for babies to be born. The Hospital told them the baby would take more than one hour. Never one to waste a valuable second, they both elected to wait outside Chris’s academy with the passenger car door ajar so that everything was in full view. I arrived just at this point. Shane knew I was a Vet. ‘You’ll do’ he said, and I was assigned the task of ‘foal watch’ and minder to time and count the contractions. I reported regularly to Shane in the chair. It was only a few metres but time was precious. Shane and I had previously worked together at a local Thoroughbred Stud. Chris speeded up as much as was possible. No unwarranted incisions. All was well. Chris was at his dexterous best. No harm done. Mrs Shane hung on and a delightful bouncing filly foal was duly delivered about an hour later at Scott Memorial Hospital. She is now a charming teenager. This is a true story. I kid you not!