Although she measured about 1 metre and a half in any dimension my grandmother was a formidable woman. She was forthright, unlikely to hold back on any pronouncement lurking in her head, without troubling over the outcome of such utterances. Despite her morbid obesity and lack of mobility she remained vigorous and lucid to the end of her 99 years and 10 months, continuing to bestow the benefit of her judgements and critiques to anyone who fell into the circle of her radar. After the last time I visited her she rang me, ostensibly to thank me for the visit, but in reality she had vital advice to impart upon the subject of my hair.
“I had to ring you to tell you about your hair,” she said. “I thought it looked awful. Don’t you have it arranged?”
There was more. There was a diatribe about colour, style, suitability for age and so on. I thanked her for her advice. I felt strangely calm and unaffected by the criticism, whilst appreciating the terminology-‘arranged’, I thought was a quaint and wonderful word to use. But she was right.
The fact is I do have my hair ‘arranged’ whenever I visit the salon-roughly every 6 weeks or so. The ‘arrangement’ lasts approximately 12 hours, after which it returns to its former state. This state is akin to frayed string, or a recently harvested field of wheat, where the rough hewn stalks of chaff stick up like ancient, chewed bones.
I love the salon. I love the wait, when I can wallow in the seldom enjoyed indulgence of ‘Hello’ magazine and wonder who all the slebs are. I love getting shampooed, made tea and consulted over my dishevelled locks. The cut and the dry never takes long enough for me, as it turns me to mush, rendering me incapable of coherent answers as to what I might be doing at the weekend. The final flourish, the mirror showing me the back view and the brushing off of the stray hairs is all part of the pleasure. I am always delighted with the result [the stylist has been dealing with my hair for several years]. This feeling of joy lasts until the next morning, by which time the frayed string will have re-emerged.
I have never mastered the art of blow drying, where the act of a slow pull of a brush with one hand and simultaneous blowing with the other produces a sleek, shiny cap. I either get the rounded brush stuck in my hair [having to resort to scissors on occasions] or am unable to engage it altogether, so that I end up looking like shock-headed Peter.
But I am as I am-outdoor/garden/camping sort of woman, and we camping type women tend not towards supermodel grooming. Might decide to be a man next time round.