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But I do have a new haircut. It happened when I least expected. I mean, I was at the hairdressers, so I expected some kind of chopping (though frankly I would go to Sergeant & Mme Mouse just for the conversation, the books and the amusement factor of watching gymbods push heavy things up and down outside), but what usually happens when I get into any hairdressers is I walk out with an inch less hair than I had when I went in and a chop that still sort of owns me.
For the past decade or so, I’ve been stuck with the same straggling-for-eight-inches mum-cut. But things weren’t always that way. It started when I was 10 and I got my teapot plaits cut off. Sewed them on to a hat.
"But," said my Dad, "wouldn’t you rather keep your lovely long hair, you could maybe even perm it like the other girls?" (Well, it was the ’80s.)
No. No. Absolutely not. I was delighted that, when I got my paper round, Eddie at the paper shop thought I was a boy called Lee for a good six months, until it turned summer and I turned up in a skirt.
In my 20s, I had a shaved head and dungarees in Brighton, a henna phase, and later, in London, I discovered the Vidal Sassoon student school, where you could go and get whatever practice cut and dye job was on for the day. I left the Covent Garden studio a virtual clone of every other cutting edge (see what I did there?) hairdo, all fast sucked up in the capital soup.
And then what? Well, haircuts are expensive and practicality is key with gorgeous ickle hands grabbing at any spare parts. Hence long straggly natural self-hacked hair in a ponytail. Even when my besty hairdresser friend was living five minutes away. And except for that time I dyed it black, just to see.
But all of a sudden and not because the calendar said so, it was time. And now I’m free! And meeee! I think the technical result is called a jaw-length bob. But I could be making that up because I am not very good with the nuances of hairology. In fact, doing online quizzes about hair care (for research purposes, you understand), I felt like there was an extra option missing, the one where you just don’t get it at all. What does your hair say about you? Oh gosh. Let’s see. Nothing. It can’t talk.
The quiz results I liked best didn’t chide me about my lack of grooming, but said, "Mostly B’s: Laid-back. You are a hippy at heart! Styling tools and hair gel are like a foreign language to you. You are all about going au naturale. More than three minutes spent on your hair is time wasted that could have been spent doing something much more spiritually fulfilling, like yoga." Or filling in a hair quiz, perhaps. (Which reminds me of a very important lifestyle hack learned from 14-year-olds and Harry Potter quizzes these holidays. Just keep doing the quiz over and over or do a different quiz until you get the results you want/deserve/want to deserve.)
But to be honest I find the whole perfect-hair-perfect-life, match-your-haircut-with-your-personality thing horribly shallow. Hair is sym-flipping-bolically amazing way beyond what length the Jen cut is these days and whatever the heck an ombre is.
Take the man bun. Take braiding. Take the freedom to wear your hair short or long or even the permission to show it at all. All of those have social, political and cultural depth and significance a hair quiz couldn’t get into, even if they used every letter of the Khmer alphabet, all 74 of them. Hair has been, is now and will be the revolution. The site of the power struggle.
Samson, the Maharishi and the forcibly buzz-cut Vietnam War trackers — they all got great strength from their hair. It might not be science but it’s backed up by the Camberwell Carrot guy in Withnail and I who cautions, "Hairs are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos, and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight."
You might laugh. I often do. But then, it’s true that every single one of your hairs holds records of who you are and what you’ve consumed, while also being actually dead on your head, made of horse hoof stuff and an insulator at that.
Weird matter, hair. Just as well I’ve chopped mine off. And that I’m mostly B’s.