Thursday, 4 December 2014

Home hairdressing is like novel writing (probably) best left to the professionals...

This is a post about DIY hair hacking from a few years ago. I re-read it as a warning to myself as I contemplate shelling out for a pro hairdresser...

Me about ten years ago - when did you wed Robbie? At my brother's wedding. The last time I had long, natural, rather than luridly coloured hair.

I have been wearing my hair scrunched into something resembling a knot (a not?) for some time now. Mostly because with the terrific-ten-week-old, the tremendous-two-year-old and the teenage-cash-demander-stand-up comedian there is not much me time, never mind ‘hair-time,’ left. I exist in a vortex of activity in which ‘me’ doesn’t often come out - except via the occasional shout. Today I decided that I needed a sea-change and it was my hair that was going to make waves. 

Brandishing my bluntish hairdressing scissors; the ones that have attacked the locks of my fifteen-year-old for years, and latterly my trusting husband and a few brave (drunk?) friends, I set to. The only thing sharp about my scissors have been my words to my son hovering above them like blades Just lift your chin off your chest before I cut off your ear. Yes, I transform into a Van Goughian madwoman when the subject is my son and my canvas is his hair. Anyway, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror in the gloom (the light obscured by the hanging – yes it looked dead – washing that dried three days ago). First of all I layered the sides. I could still see at this stage. Then the thought occurred to me that I might try layering the back. It was like playing blind-man’s-bluff with my hair as the opponent, as I groped around the back of my head, pulling up layers and hacking away. Before long (there was short) I was in the bluff. Scissor-happy, I liked what I saw – at this stage my hair had gone from long and lank to mid-length and nicely layered. 

My two-year-old, who was taking full advantage of my distraction by emptying ‘things’ into the bathtub and over the floor, said that I looked ‘gorgeous’ and that she ‘liked it,’ I think she may have been ‘liking’ my ignoring her activities with the perfume bottle, canny kid that she is. This tick should have been my cue that the session was over, but the scissors were hot in my hands and I thought I could ‘style’ it some more. Pause for a moment (as I should have) and imagine a sped up film of a person cutting their own hair. This was to become my mode in the minutes that followed as I lost all sense of time and proportion. Soon I had cut a wedge from the right-hand side that had to be paid for by the left and so it went on for some time like a bizarre hair politics show, until eventually my daughter who prefers to play than eat demanded lunch. My hair, like a novel, or rather now, a short story, was forced into conclusion by events outside my control, which was just as well, otherwise I may have continued cutting, cutting, cutting, shaping, shaping, shaping until someone said stop.

*Happily that novel has now shifted over two thousand copies - all word of mouth too, apart from some good reviews/press early on - yes, I know I am mouthy and a bit trumpet-blowy. But not bad for a girl who ditched (nicely, she was lovely) her agent and the publishing industry (when they asked her to change the ending) to go it alone...I have to remind myself about previous successes when I feel a bit down that the current one is not finished yet...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Jingle Bells, Christmas Smells...

Just back from London where Christmas is already in overdrive with the major stores on Flashy Street falling over themselves to seduce customers with their fabulous window displays and in store tricks, I mean, treats. The shopping vibes are not especially nice. Last Friday, Black Friday, appropriately named, the scenes were Halloween scary. In Asda, people literally fell over themselves, and each other, as they fought over cut-price tellys and more. At Tesco, in Greater Manchester, three men were arrested and a woman was hit by a falling television. Had she died, the death jokes would have followed her through the annals or should I say, anals of history. The telly was on her. And then she was on it. Oh dear. 

In the US, it's even worse. There is a Black Friday death count website. Oh yes, here it is: 

I cannot verify the veracity of the deaths but it says something about US society and ours. Speaking of US society, why are we buying into this black Friday guff? Can't the British maintain some semblance of dignity? 

At the other end of the spectrum, socially, but not politely speaking, things are not pretty in a different way. I usually frequent supermarkets that begin with 'A' and 'L' but I do like the occasional 'W' and not just for their free coffees. Their stuff and their staff are great, but their clientele are from hell. Okay obvs not all of them, I go there sometimes and so does John Snow, apparently. On occasion, I frequent a certain ‘W’ shop in London (thanks for the free coffees!) and marvel at the rudeness and arrogance of the customers and their general sense of entitlement. Nobody smiles, if you have to say 'excuse me' expect a glare. Looking down ones nose is a pose that grows, like the queue - no one, apart from me, uses the new, DIY tills. And don't take a buggy with a chirruping child. Children should be left with the help or at least steered around, petrified in one of those buggies that looks like a slingshot with privileged offspring as missile about to be launched in your startled face. The kid is so high up and ‘out there,’ that the word 'status' and 'symbol' vanish into thrusting orbit. The staff at ‘W’ however, are the antithesis of their customers, they know how to Wait and they know how to waft: Odeur De Rose. Hats off to Mr J.L. They really do know how to treat a punter. As for the shoppers though, they're punts.

My grandparents would never have bought anything they could not afford. And they would have stood in line, and had a chat to get it. As a society, how did we become so uncaring and generally gobbly and greedy, at the expense of others? I think it's a cultural malaise. Enough, never seems to be enough. At the upper end of the scale, there is entitlement in that there is an attitude of ‘we are better than everyone else and we expect servitude from those around us.’ At the other end of the scale there is this rapacious need to have everything that is advertised (in, on and off the telly) despite the consequences: debt, death even. Of course I am generalising, and I know that Britain has a wonderful record (no, not that one) on charity giving, but on the streets of London, shopping is a menace and it points to a deeper lack, and I would say that lack is an emotional and a spiritual one.