Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Technology in the salon

Some months ago I mentioned I faced a passage in the novel where my joint leading character, a 42-year-old physicist turned successful businesswoman, felt the need to change her conservative appearance. I had a generous response including detailed suggestions from Eleanor. Some advice has been adopted and is spread out untidily in the MS. However the hair styling changes come in a comparatively compact passage published here, as a new-shorn lamb, in gratitude for the interest shown,

There remained her hair, easily the most radical change and the least expected. Having experimented with henna, as instructed, and formed a preference for Persian Copper she bit the bullet when picking up Nick from the nursery and asked assorted mothers to recommend Sevenoaks’ best salon. The consensus was for Hair Lines (“shockingly expensive”).

She had imagined something opulent and comforting and got neither. The atmosphere was closer to a pop concert: over-amplified guitars and young women, girls rather, strangely dressed and strangely decorated.

Her own stylist, Kylie, had black hair in broken-glass spikes and was pierced with studs, one apparently penetrating the skull above her left eye. Clare said, “You come well regarded. But can you do anything for me?”

Kylie screamed with laughter revealing a ball of chewing gum nesting on her tongue. “Don’t fancy my spikes, eh? Look, I can style anyone. What did you have in mind?”

Clare explained her henna experiments and was surprised at Kylie’s attentiveness and the way she ran fingers speculatively through her hair. She concluded: “It seemed a suitable colour. Perhaps you could take it from there.”

Kylie said nothing and continued to feel out the contours. Finally she said, “I could do better than that.”

“But would it be… extreme?”

“Nah, not that. See, you think you’ve got a thin face don’t you. Well it’s really oval. Quite pretty once it’s freed up. But I need to streak a mix of colours - ” She raised her hand to forestall Clare’s look of alarm. “ - nothing strong, just subtle highlights. Then I want a line across, to take away the dull old balance. Tell you what: if you don’t like it pay me a pony and no tip. But you’ll like it.”

Trying to remember whether a pony was twenty-five or fifty pounds Clare continued to be struck by Kylie’s confidence, her topological analysis and the way she conveyed – mainly by hand movements – what she intended to do while simultaneously half-proving it to be desirable.

And here it was, a transformation that Clare had covertly inspected many times during the past few days. Multicoloured highlights, running from roots to tips, varying from light brown to dark gold in a narrow spectrum like trapped sedimentary layers in an exposed cliff. A sauce where cream and chili oil had been added and gently stirred, just once. Colours as movement.

But it was a lock of hair taken diagonally across her forehead towards her right ear that disturbed “the dull old balance” and revealed an ellipse rather than a cylinder. Changed a face that was merely adult into an interesting secret.

Habit said it wasn’t her. Reflection told her she was no judge of her own looks. She got out of the Jaguar, facing the sleek yet heartless entrance to Garston’s headquarters. Modernism for modernism’s sake. She was keen to try out the new carapace.

Novel progress 14/2/10. Ch. 15: 617 words. Chs. 1 - 14: 63,137 words. Comments: Hatch, still waiting.