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

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

How my hair finally caught up

A woman emerges from a hair salon having chosen her appearance from ten different variants; I go in unkempt and slink out as Magwitch. I could spend more money but being tended cosmetically resonates uncomfortably with my northern upbringing. Now I have no public life there are, I note, alternatives - states beyond unkempt: shaggy leading to wild leading to Dionysian.

Mrs BB you might have thought would resist visiting Tesco with a saluki. Interestingly, she’s ambivalent. Although hard on food-encrusted trousers and shirts worn longer than a week, I can’t recall her ever insisting I have my hair cut.

Once while I was still employed my lady hairdresser asked if I’d consider lending her my head as a model in a hair-stylist’s competition. The idea appalled me. I am self-regarding but not that way. Allowing nature to take its course is another matter.

For, resembling Cookie Monster, I must act the part. I stopped combing months ago since a cultivated head of hair misses the point. How then should I adjust my behaviour to match the burst cushion above. A louder voice? The Ancient Mariner’s eye? Active manipulation of a little learning?

Or none of these? Examining this rustic version in the shaving mirror I made a surprising discovery. My uncontrolled hair has merely caught up with the person I already am! It was those periods of short back and sides that were out-of-synch. What’s more my greatest roles – as Lear, as Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar, as Tolstoy (the sartorial exemplar) – are all tantalisingly imminent. I am hairier, therefore I am.

THE LOVE PROBLEM 56,434 words. It is shockingly difficult to capture the first fragile, virtually imperceptible, step towards loving someone. A thousand words at least will need to be rewritten.


marja-leena said...

I agree that those very short back and sides are not attractive on most so a little more is nice. You are blessed with thick hair which many a man must envy, so why not flaunt it!

Plutarch said...

Mrs Plutarch invariably reminds me to have a haircut, and I have hardly any to cut. What she doesn't like is what I can only discribe as the hairy coconut look - smooth pate susrrounded by a fringe of coir.

Anne said...

This just goes to show that men are just as vain as women. I won't show that picture to my poor bald headed husband, who has not only lost almost all the hair on his head, but laments the loss of what he called his pelt of chest hair.

Lots of shaggy white hair on a man is quite sexy. But I go for the bald headed guy myself.

Anonymous said...

Never mind the hair, it will protect you from the sun as nature intended. More interesting is the love problem. If you remember, it is the hair-tingling point (another use for it then) when you discover that parting even for a short while will actually hurt while at the same time filling the psyche with a kind of joyful optimism.

fedorovna said...

Sorry, that last anon was me. Must have hit the wrong button.

The Crow said...

I now know your true identity! You are the missing Beatle! That glorious mop of hair has given you away, dear BB.

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: The problem lies in the word "flaunt". Not all attempts to do this are successful. Some men grow their hair down to their shoulders and beyond so that it is disturbed by every passing zephyr and their life is devoted - futilely - to restoring its symmetry. The repetitive hand gestures are an irritation to those who have the bad luck to find themselves watching. Others tie their hair back into a ponytail; with women this can be a gorgeous attribute, with men it often looks like an illness.

Plutarch: I have noticed your changed policy over the years. The newer closer cut is more brutal (something I would espouse, I think, if I became a fringe-man) and makes you look younger. The latter is not a compliment it is the objective truth.

Anne: This post was the subject of several drafts and re-drafts. In an earlier form I did touch on my vanity which I freely admit to, even though it takes specialised rather than generalised expression (eg, I didn't see myself as a hairdresser's model). I worry about the assumption that the implied guideline for male vanity is female vanity. Men's vanity expresses itself in different - often contradictory - ways. The "dandy" man is quite rare, the majority of men preferring to see themselves as "blokeish". Many are surprised when they discover that often women dislike blokeishness and, especially its concomitant, a reluctance to wash.

I would willingly cede my pelt of chest hair to your husband; I see it as nothing but an irritation which tickles my chin when I lie prone, reading on the couch.

Fed: I agree about parting being such sweet sorrow but I perhaps didn't express myself clearly in the post. The moment I am talking about lies further back in time: when, having identified that first flurry of interest in oneself, one starts looking for the tiniest shards of evidence that the interest is reflected. And in doing so one tends to over-interpret quite humdrum events.

Since the above post I got rid of a chunk of unnatural dialogue and replaced it with a passage in which Jana, my central character, watches as the man in question behaves impeccably towards Jana's mother. This works far better but I am now facing another problem: this is a flashback summary (ie, in condensed form) of Jana's one great love and since all this will (in another thousand words) end in disappointment, what level of tenderness should I go for? There is a danger of over-egging things and turning drama into melodrama.

The Crow: It's nice of you to say so but there two irreconcilable problems: (a) that lot came from the other side of the Pennines and I can't do the accent, and (b) their hairdos were very carefully arranged and I'm wilfully avoiding that.

Hattie said...

Don't complain. You still have your hair. My husband would be very envious. I'm rather fond of the white mane and bushy-eyebrowed look, as a matter of fact.
I have a real problem with bald domes on white guys. It worked for Yul Brynner, Ben Kingsley and Jean Luc Picard, but otherwise it's not so good. It almost always looks good on black guys.

Rouchswalwe said...

Your reasoning makes perfect sense to me, BB!

Barrett Bonden said...

Hattie: Am I complaining? I thought everything worked out fine.

RW (zS): Let that be our secret.

Lucy said...

I am delighted by the various kennings for your hirsute person - saluki, cookie monster, Blake's Nebuchadnezzar (but do you have the thews for the last?)

I have observed quite a number of retired persons of my acquaintance who seem to enjoy a liberation of their inner hippy, not least in their coiffeur...

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: Had to look up "kennings" but then that was surely your intention. And you're right about thews. Blake's picture of Nebuchadnezzar is so strange that I've meant - many times - to look up the reference. However, using Google seems inappropriate and as Belmont's most rampant atheist I can't afford to be seen HB in hand.

As to atavistic hippies my attitude is less an active policy and more the embracing of decay.

Avus said...

Like Lucy, I enjoyed your "kennings" (thank you for that word, Lucy).
As a young man I enjoyed (?) a head of rippling curls (think actor George Cole in his twenties). From about 40 these began to thin and straighten and has now reached the "back fringe" stage. However, this means that haircuts are cheap and easy - a self administered no.1 cut (one eight inch)clipper all over, once a month does me fine.
Someone once remarked that if one is balding, get a tan, a clipped beard and wear a good suit. My tan arrives with spring, but the beard left me in 1980, the suit when I retired.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: Some men have head shapes for which baldness is the better option - Stirling Moss, for instance, whose upper dome is faceted and deserves exposure. Alas, none of the three recommendations would suit me if I lost my mop. I don't tan: I redden and solar keratosis ensues which means I must grease my face and spend my declining years looking like an obscene veriation of Kate Moss's glossy lips. My beard is basically gingery and I hate the Orange Order implications. A good suit, yes (I'm a sucker for that Hong Kong tailor's quirky ads in the national press) but I'd have to invent reasons for wearing it.