I had my hair cut this week. I have it snipped at by the estimable Eddie from BA1Hair (@ba1hair) in Bath because the lad is a craftsman, frankly, and he doesn’t chit chat and therefore the whole experience is very Zen.
This was not always the case for myself and my mane. I am not the kind of woman who likes to go for a blow dry really or to have her roots done, my roots along with the rest of my tresses are a grey colour these days. I have not always looked on a haircut as a positive experience hence the fact that in recent times I actually let the lot grow until it was down to my waist.
When I was a kid our hair was cut, firstly, by my mum, a similar experience to sheep-shearing by Salvador Dali. I had an edgy hipster fringe long before there were edgy hipsters. There was the infamous ‘urchin’ cut too, think Artful Dodger meets unfortunate incident with a kitchen whisk and you’re most of the way there.
Finally my mum decided that we were too old to have our hair slashed by Sheila any longer and so we began to go to Adam and Eve, a newly ‘unisex’ salon, where Jean and her daughters cut hair. This was always a lovely experience, a mother daughter event on every level with my mum getting her hair permed or cut alongside myself and my sister. This was the era when I had a ‘Purdey’ cut, the one sported by Joanna Lumley in The New Avengers. I loved it although it must be said that at eleven I did not have the cheekbones or elan of Ms Lumley, no matter how precisely Jean cut my mop.
The 80s dawned and saw me invest in several thousand curly perms. My hair is very straight and fine although, as several weary hairdressers have commented over the years ‘there’s a lot of it’. In a bid to outsmart mother nature I grew my hair and I had it permed and that was that. Hair bliss. I felt like a Pre-Raphaelite beauty although if you check the photographic evidence I bore more resemblance to a Poodle.
Over the years there have been only a few people I trusted to cut my hair. The most trusted was a young woman called Lisa who worked at a local salon. This woman always did my hair exactly the way it was ‘in my head’. You know the usual drill, you pick out a hairstyle that you like and then you go to the actual hairdresser. ‘This is how I’d like it’ you say and point at the picture and they can only do three sorts of cut so they just pick the one that is closest to the picture that you show them. At least, that was my experience.
Then I met Lisa. She was skilled and my hair looked good and then one day I showed up at the salon to be told she had moved to Cardiff and that another girl, let’s call her Wilma, would be cutting my hair.
She would be cutting my hair after she had eaten her lunch, a chinese takeaway of sweet and sour pork. I am not making this up.
In the 90s I had my kids and chopped at my hair with any available implement in the brief moments available between feeds and fingerpainting.
On one occasion when they were at school I thought I would treat myself to a cut and colour at a swanky type salon. It is the only time I have ever walked out. The girl said when I showed her the cut I wanted ‘You can’t have that. You’re too old.’ I was thirty six and the cut in question was a choppy bob, not the most radical of styles. In other times I might have sat in the chair and been given the shampoo and set that she clearly had planned for me. Instead, utterly deflated, I said simply ‘I’ll go then’. And I got up and left, taking the sleek space age coverall off as I did so. She was so shocked, and suddenly so contrite as her supervisor watched me leave the building.
After that little fiasco I let it grow. I permed it once or twice. I snipped the more irritating bits off with the pinking shears, the breadknife, the toenail scissors.
It was when it finally got down to my waist and was not permed that I reached a nadir of hair fashion. It was so long that it took about a week to dry each morning and it was snarled in everything. I took to simply twisting it around itself and clamping it to my head. In my imagination I was Victorian, dreaming once more of the Pre-Raphaelite look. In reality I looked like someone’s ratty granny.
Enter, Eddie and his scissors. When faced with the opportunity to chop my waist length hair into a pixie cut he was not fazed, nor did he question my age or current status as a trendsetter. He offered a few bits of advice about how we could go about this epic cropping and the second he cut the first section I felt relieved and more like myself. Hence, I have returned. As I have said, he is not a chatterbox, there is something meditative about the process of a haircut and all the stress vanishes. Sometimes I eavesdrop on other conversations as Eddie combs and sections, before I begin to drift. The story sludge of my mind gloops and bubbles and I think I have solved more plot problems sitting in the chair at BA1 Hair than almost anywhere. I don’t want to work out the magic of this process. Is it the meditative qualities of having your hair shampooed with lush smelling botanicals? Or possibly being swathed in a black cloak? Then there is the snip-snip of the scissors, the discarding of the outgrown, the neatening of edges.
Perhaps that’s the key, unlike Samson, a writer needs to have their hair cut from time to time in order to edit out the tangles of story.
This blog post is a bit of frothy nonsense. However, check out Eddie Ilic and his journey for a real story. #Notallheroeshavecapes
A barber is offering haircuts to those on the streets in Bath to help give them confidence. pic.twitter.com/XsTBe9Gkxh
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) September 17, 2017