THIS week I had to get my hair cut and decided I’d treat myself to a proper, barber-shop shave as well.

I tend to do this now with every haircut, and I rather enjoy it. It involves hot towels, a brush to apply the shaving cream, cut-throat razors and some cooling ointment afterwards. I think it’s the nearest a man came come to having a “facial” without being derided as effeminate.

The hairdresser said she quite enjoyed doing them as well. It was a much more professional shave than my own rushed jobs in the morning with a disposable plastic razor, when I’ll cut myself or discover a bit I’d missed, or find shaving foam below my chin later that day.

While waiting my turn I looked at the pictures of elaborate haircuts that decorated the walls – and had to wonder whether anyone ever requested one.

I don’t know anybody who could carry them off successfully. They all seemed to involve closely trimmed sides, sometimes with a pattern shaved into them, and elaborate constructions on top.

One photo put me in mind of an aircraft carrier above an ocean of zig-zag waves. I wouldn’t get 10 yards looking like that.

I find the actual haircut the less enjoyable element these days, because it always reminds me that I’m losing my hair.

When the mirror is held up to show me the back of my head it also reveals the growing bald patch.

When it first emerged it was a small circle about the size of a 2p coin. Now it’s about the size of a small side plate.

Then someone sweeps up all the hair on the floor and I’ll feel it was a bit reckless to have it cut. It was hair I can ill afford to lose these days.

Of course it’s mostly cut from the back and sides rather than the thinning top. But it’s still a net loss of hair.

I shouldn’t really complain about this because 80 per cent of men lose at least some of their hair, as do 20 per cent of women. But I’d far rather have gone grey.

My dad, uncle and brother are all grey and one of my grandfathers was too, and it can be very distinguished looking.

You might even get described as a “silver fox”, so admired by some women. If I could retain my hair I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t retain its colour.

But there’s nothing convincing you can do about baldness. You could claim you have a very wide parting indeed. Or you could emulate Bobby Charlton and cultivate a comb-over, parting your hair a centimetre above one ear and pasting it over towards the other – and fooling no-one.

One schoolteacher of mine had a particularly daft attempt to disguise his baldness by growing the ring of hair around the back and sides and plastering it all up onto his crown. Any breeze or sudden movement would ruin all his efforts.

Someone’s hair can be closely bound up with their sense of identity and losing it can trigger a minor identity crisis. After all, lots of our surnames originated by denoting hair colour – Black, Brown, Gray or White.

“Reed” meant red, and “Ball” meant bald. “Green” would have been an exception.

There are those who embrace their hair loss by having done with it, shaving the remainder all off and looking neat and tidy, but it wouldn’t work for me. I have a double crown so would end up looking like a lightbulb.

Baldness can be strong, tough and manly but when you wear glasses for reading and writing, as I do, that’s hard to carry off.

And those who study closely the marketing of politics argue that a respectable head of hair is necessary for male politicians these days.

It wasn’t in the era of Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, but television was a less decisive factor then.

There are probably many reasons that Neil Kinnock, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith never became the tenant of 10 Downing Street, but their lack of hair didn’t do them any favours.

While in the barber’s I mentioned my bald patch to the hairdresser and she said reassuringly: “Well, at least you’ve still got more hair than Prince William.” That did make me feel a little better.

Some men used to request a Tony Curtis haircut or an Elvis quiff and in my late teens I tried unsuccessfully to grow my hair like Jim Morrison’s.

Maybe in future I can ask for the Duke of Cambridge look.