A Truce, of Sorts, With My Hair
My hairstyle fluctuates. For almost all of my childhood it was a brushed forward look, designed by my mother and modelled on The Beatles "mop-top". Not content with naming me after TWO of the Beatles, my mother was determined that I would also look like them - all at once.
I had tried to cut it myself at 12 - got it tragically wrong and ended up having the whole lot shaved off (you try being the swot with a skinhead at school - thank goodness it grew back in about two weeks). I didn't dare do anything else with it until 15, when I gave myself a daring side-parting. People pointed at me during school assembly and whispered comments, but oddly one by one, all of the boys I hung out with copied my new "do" over the course of the week. For the first (and possibly only) time, I was a Fashion Leader.
By the time I got to university, the side parting had turned into a gigantic, out-of-control quiff, which added an extra 8 inches onto my height. I had been inspired by the boys of Beverly Hills 90210 and the lead singer of REM, who in turn had probably been inspired by James Dean. I cultivated the sideburns and Luke Perry's non-existent top lip. "Why are you doing that weird thing with your mouth" my friend used to say when he saw me looking in the mirror. It was unconscious, and humiliating to have it pointed out.
Around about ten years ago, the quiff got shorter and shorter, and I tried to get my hair to resemble Paul Clarke on Big Brother 2. This otherwise banal contestant spent hours applying bits of styling putty to his hair in order to give it what was known as the "Hoxton fin". This picture of him doesn't really do it justice, but you can see the rather toxic-looking amount of product in it.
It wasn't the sort of look that really let you lean back against soft furnishings without leaving an imprint, and it took ages to create. After about a week of putting stuff in my hair by the name of "Goop" or "Sticky Fish" or whatever, my hair would rebel and then refuse to do anything at all. It would stick up in all the wrong places. I kind of hated it. The only thing it had going for it was that it resolved the cow-lick that I have on the right side of my face, by making it almost non-existent.
Now I'm in my late 30s, it seems futile to even try to follow hair fashion any more. I see much younger males walking around with longer hair, all swept forward, in a kind of emo-Bieber-style. A nice thing about being so old that it no longer matters what you look like, is that there is a kind of freedom in that. So I've gone back to the old side parting. On a good day my hair now resembles the middle-aged lead of Any Human Heart. Or a Tory politician.
It doesn't need any product (hurrah!), and is long enough so that it doesn't stick up by itself at the back until about 4pm, as I found when I've tried shorter styles. And when I go into my recently remodelled art-deco inspired ensuite guest room, I actually feel like I'm a character in a lavish 1930s costume drama.
And sometimes, I've started wearing old man hats. "I am pleased", said my husband. "That other hat you used to wear, the 'cool' one, made you look a bit simple!"