Thinking of my time as a hospital porter, I remember the hospital barber, a neatly-moustachioed man named Ron who, when not on the wards attending to patients, would sit in a corner of the porters' room cleaning and oiling his razors, joining in the conversation now and then with well-judged remarks. He wore a green nylon jacket to distinguish himself from the porters; ours were grey. On his lapel he wore a COHSE badge, the Confederation of Health Service Employees, which merged with NUPE and NALGO in 1991 to form Unison.
In the ironic tradition of nick-naming which attributes to someone the precise quality they lack, Ron was known to us all as Slasher. His chief duty was pre-operative shaving, a living link with the days of the barber-surgeon, but he would also shave male patients unable to do so themselves and, for a small sum, would attend to any porter who wanted a cheap haircut at work. Hospital barbers no longer exist: the last time I went into hospital for an operation, I was handed a razor and told to prepare myself for the surgeon.