Radical barber Pat back in business after Balls Pond Road fire that cost him his salon and home

Pat unpacks his 'barber shop in a backpack' for the Gazette's photographer. Picture: Polly Hancock

Pat unpacks his 'barber shop in a backpack' for the Gazette's photographer. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A barber whose Balls Pond Road salon was destroyed by a fire in November is back in business – despite the fact the blaze made him homeless.

The scene of the blaze in Balls Pond Road in November. Picture: Catherine Bethune

The scene of the blaze in Balls Pond Road in November. Picture: Catherine Bethune - Credit: Archant

Pat Rudman, 71, now runs his business through word of mouth and he posts leaflets advertising his haircuts at bus stops when he can afford to print them from internet cafes.

“Will I open another shop? Of course I will,” Pat said. “But agents want one to two months’ rent in advance and that could take six months to a year to get.”

He charges £4 plus travel costs for his haircuts.

He also claims to have cut Islington North MP and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s hair at one time.

Pat's salon before the fire. Picture: Richard Preddy

Pat's salon before the fire. Picture: Richard Preddy - Credit: Richard Preddy (richardpreddy@gmail.com) / 01303 844819


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He said: “It was over 10 years ago when his hair was long like a hippie. He was one of my first customers.”

Azam Khorasani, 35 and unemployed, of Caledonian Road, has been Pat’s loyal customer and friend for 10 years.

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“Pat stays with me every now and again and I just try and assist him any way I can,” he told the Gazette.

Pat carries the tools of his trade on his back, calling it his “barber shop in a backpack”. His toolbox includes a razor, scissors, gloves, a cape, cream and WD-40 for good measure.

Pat unpacks his 'barber shop in a backpack' for the Gazette's photographer. Picture: Polly Hancock

Pat unpacks his 'barber shop in a backpack' for the Gazette's photographer. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

His left wrist still has the band Homerton Hospital gave him when he was admitted with burns following the fire that damaged his business.

The salon was known for the radical messages neatly inked on its shopfront.

One of those messages referred to the “pro-good revolution”, which shares Pat’s initials.

The building was also Pat’s home: he lived, and made food for the homeless, in the back behind a curtain.

“I was preparing food when I smelled gas and heard the fire alarm,” he said. “I pulled the curtain back and all I could see was fire.”

He still carries his charred mobile phone as a reminder.

“I don’t ask for charity, but people have helped me,” he said – showing the Gazette a new phone he was given.

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