Studying ‘Educating Rita’ in Year 8 has had enduring consequences. Patina and frisson were both new words for me, but I think what has most stuck with me is Rita’s comment about how every woman who comes to her for a haircut leaves invariably disappointed that she is unable to transform them into Farrah Fawcett-Majors.
I always hope against hope that any haircut will totally transform me (although not into Farrah Fawcett-Majors) and usually I end up waiting until I am out of sight of the hairdressers, and then tying my hair up and rushing home to wash it and maybe have a little cry.
Haircuts are not my favourite things but here are a few of the more memorable examples:
The one where I was cutting the hair around my ears, found a clump that was really thick and difficult to cut through, gave it a bit of welly on the scissors and only discovered with the sharp pain and wetness that my ear had been party to the incident.
The one where the hairdresser saw my alopecia and started giving me unsolicited advice about dealing with stress and anxiety before attempting to invite herself back to my place.
The one in London where a Brazilian convinced me to have my hair cut in an inverted U underneath and an upright U on top and then insisted on styling my hair the Brazilian way (glam glam glam) despite me assuring him than 2 minutes later it would be flattened under a cycle helmet.
The one where the trainee hairdresser had to carry out a head assessment beforehand, found a handful of white hairs and filled out her form: Number of white hairs – 20%.
The one where a friend started cutting my hair to make it presentable for attending a wedding the next day and gave up shortly after starting. Two other friends then joined her and I ended up sat outside the Pink House with three scissor-happy friends and their neighbour who helpfully said: “Ooh, you’re very brave. I wouldn’t let anyone do that to me.”
The one where a family member agreed to trim my hair straight across the bottom and then, once finished, said “I’ll just make it into a hairstyle” and before I could register and politely decline, started layering my hair in a way I have always and will always absolutely hate.
The one where the supervisor called all the trainees over to see my ‘virgin hair’ and nobody could believe it hadn’t been coloured.
The one where a trainee hairdresser in Bristol found out I was from Cornwall and then mentioned that she’d got back from an all-nighter in Cornwall just that morning. I couldn’t bring myself to point out while she was cutting my hair that the style on the right hand side of my head differed from the style on the left, so I walked home and tried to even it out myself before despairing totally, phoning the supervisor and going back for a full re-cut. £3 very well spent.
The one where I went into the hairdressers needing hair suitable for bridesmaiding and came out looking like Hillary Clinton.
The one where the itinerant hairdresser explained that my hair was prone to oiliness so I should always rinse it with cold water. This has proved to be invaluable advice and has also resulted in my always washing my hair before going to the hairdressers, where they invariably wash my hair.
The one where the trainee hairdresser added oil to my hair after cutting it and the supervisor rushed over and said “Don’t do that, didn’t you see how greasy her hair was when she walked in?” I didn’t point out that I just washed it and just sat in a mortified silence.