Well-groomed in lockdown

January 23rd 2021

I have never gone for the well-groomed look. I tell people it’s because I was once traumatised by a hairdresser, which is actually a lie.

It was more than once.

As students, we all patronised  Daisy’s, because it was cheap. She was more generally known as the Mad Axewoman of Glossop, although we were nowhere near Glossop.

A friend and I went, before a fancy-dress party. We were both going as something Greek, because we could make the dresses by tying strategic knots in bits of lining fabric, so we wanted Grecian hairdos – sort of carelessly tumbled curls falling from a top-knot.

Daisy produced something never seen in real life, on a Greek vase, and rarely on Strictly. Chrissie’s wasn’t too bad as her hair was shorter. She could still pass through doorways upright.  Mine was a sort of traffic cone of rigid curls jammed on top of my head, pulled so tight my eyes had taken on a distinct slant. Morticia Adams wouldn’t have been seen dead under it. 

The Axewoman’s preferred method was to varnish the lot solid with industrial strength hairspray, jack it up as high as possible with a steel tail-comb, squirt again, then go round snipping off any loose bits.  When I finally managed to comb it out, 48 hours later, an entire curl fell off with a thud. She’d snipped clean through it, but it had been so firmly gummed to its mates that it had stayed in place through a somewhat hectic student party, and sleeping it off afterwards…I could have used it as a brillo pad.

We’d emerged, blinking, from Daisy’s and tottered along to the pub where we were meeting Chrissie’s boyfriend, headscarves tied firmly over the evidence.  ‘’Let’s have a look, then,’’ he said.  We peered furtively from the dark corner we’d dived into, and we revealed all for about as long as a flasher on a very cold day.

‘’Good Grief’’, he said. ‘’I better get you both a large drink’’.

I did not go near a hairdresser again for years – I just let the stuff grow.   At last, when it was getting dangerously near the Rapunzel stage, I steeled myself to try again, at a distinctly more classy joint.

She wanted to give me Big Hair. Anyone who has ever seen me – even from a great distance, through mist – would instantly realise that I am not the Big Hair type. I prefer my hair to move, and not to get jammed in lift doors.I looked like a perplexed vole peering out of a haystack, though with less glamour.

When I felt strong enough, I passed on to somewhere a touch more laid back. 

‘’Howja normally have it?’’ he said.

‘’Sort of long and dangling.’’

‘’Right.’’

He washed it and poured all manner of gubbins over it, and then chopped an inch off the bottom and pointed a dryer at it.

‘’Jahave a middle parting or what?’’

‘’Yup.’’

‘’You better do it, then, you know where it goes.’’

I did. And left looking just like I had when I went in, only with an inch less hair and fifty quid less money.  It’s stayed sort of long and dangling ever since. 

The upside is, I can say with pride that I am JUST as well-groomed during lockdown as I am in normal life.    

Sue Papworth

Huddersfield Times

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