I have had, pretty much, the same haircut since I was knee high to a space hopper and have always thought that my hair was, well, just a bit shit. There is the natural tin-tin quiff, the double crown and the colour, brown. At the back I grow a convergence of locks which congregate at my nape like a duck’s arse – not so much a mullett as a mallard. If I fall asleep on the train, I wake up with stalks perpendicular to my head which then refuse to go back down despite the desperate ministrations of my licked hand. No matter how I try to subtly smooth it into place, it just won’t go – so I stop: lest I look like one of the cat people. It is St Trinian’s unruly so I use “fudge” to tame it into some semblance of normality. No hair product is sticky enough – I use actual fudge. If the authorities ever saw my hair without “product” in it, I could well be sectioned. I wash it every night; my secret pleasure is when I run out of my own shampoo and can use either my wife’s horrendously expensive australian one (y’know – the one that smells of bubble gum) or even better, the kid’s “No more tears” one which has the clean innocent smell of towel wrapped childhood.
At the hairdressers I have tried asking for different styles, I really have, but they look at me as if to say “You do know, there is only so much you can polish a turd” before giving me the “usual” – think pre-pubescent SS officer. Immediately after a hair cut, there is a period where I look like I may have just lost my virginity in a remand centre. Y’know, slightly shellshocked.
“You look like you’ve been done and left” as my dear mother often says to me. After a week or so I venture back out into the public eye, knowing that it will be at least another week before I enter the Goldilocks period – not too short, not yet too long: just right. For years it has been like this. And now of course there are the occasional Gandalfian strands, hairs so unbelievably white and weirdly kinked, hairs that fill me with so much shock and awe that I suspect they may well be God’s pubes that have somehow landed on my head. Don’t look at me like that, God is universally accepted as being the hairiest deity ever invented. Whatever they are, they glow with mortality. Or pro-vitamin B5 – it could be that.
Recently though, there have been two incidents which have made me see my hair in a different light.
Watching Wayne Rooney (the most highly polished turd ever to drag his knuckles across the earth) I was struck that he is genuinely pleased with his new hair implants. No, I’ll go further – he is thrilled. It is weirdly heart warming to see such pleasure on what passes for a face. That we all think it looks like somebody has thrown a wig at a placenta is irrelevant. Which must mean that pre-weave he must’ve been terribly sad; vanity is not always to do with one’s reflection.
The other incident happened only a few days ago.
Tenterden High St was bustling on a sunny Saturday morning and a stately traffic jam had developed either side of the pelican crossing. An old convertible mercedes glided to a stop, creamy leather interior beaming with well upholstered pride. The driver had the top down and was playing it cool: elbow on door frame, fingers tapping in time to Marvin Gaye, smiling at his passenger, a young blonde women. The car was impressive, like a four poster bed on wheels, it purred, and here he was, being admired by passers by as he swapped pillow talk with a beautiful woman. You could read the well earned smugness in the slow nod of his head, in the volume of the music, that benevolent smile as he drank in the silent applause of jealous glances. And then someone shouted “BALDIE”.
Perhaps I should’ve mentioned that first, he was a baldie. Not the Duncan Goodhew school of baldness, the mannequin depilation which, in the adult world, is largely immune from abusers for all the obvious reasons. No, he was one of those guys that was going bald but had swept what was left across his head in a classic baldie comb-over. Of course, the soft top automobile is the natural enemy of the baldie comb-over and so, blissfully unaware that his hair-blanket had flown off of his head and was now dangling limply he checked himself in the mirror and hastily began reconstructing the “do”. Clearly this sort of reaction is rather provocative to bored teenagers and so they shouted “BALDIE” again. Slightly louder and with a hint of triumph – like they’d won at bingo. “BALDIE!”
Lots of people laughed – myself included.
That was it, there’s no more to the story, his moment of glory had disappeared, gone for ever like his hair. Presumably Marvin Gaye hit 10,000 RPM in his grave. Presumably Baldie comb-over went about his business, driving his beautiful car along country lanes with his hair flapping like a wind sock behind him. It probably didn’t even keep him up at night. But for me it reconfigured the shit hair scale, and my place within it.
I ran my hands through my full head of luxuriantly thick hair and thought “could be worse Conmy, could be much much worse”.