The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th May 2021

My first haircut this year. My first haircut since 8th December 2020. I love it. There are, I realise, advantages in being forced to go through the growing out stages of a haircut. At almost precisely six weeks after my December cut my hair was wild. Then it settled down, seemed to grow into a new style and I was happy with it again. The pattern repeated itself over the five months. My curls grew back and I liked having them. So today although I had a couple of inches cut off my hair it is longer than it was in December, still wavy, and in a bob with graduations and layers. I had it done at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Buckingham Gate, a building that was formerly used by members of the Met Police where they stocked up on bacon butties when demos were on.

Lauren cut my hair. She walked across the foyer in a cardigan decorated with lemons and I watched amused as three women opposite me followed the progress of that cardigan covetously with their eyes. At that point I didn’t know Lauren was going to cut my hair.

I liked her and trusted her immediately. On the way to having my hair washed I told her about the cardigan reaction. “M&S,” she said delphically, “I got it in the sale.” It turned out she had been a wig maker, having got into that from being a costumiere, having got into that through learning how to sew because she did an art foundation course, liked drawing clothes but didn’t know how to make them. She’d spent much of lockdown on the Isle of Wight at her parents’ house going slowly bonkers having got away from New York where she’d been working a day before that would have been impossible. Now she’s escaped to London. You can follow her on instagram @lamacdesign. I am. If she sets up a salon I want to be her client.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 12th August 2020

Still hot, but there were rumbles of thunder this afternoon, the sky has clouded over and rain is forecast tomorrow. Hurrah! Or it would be hurrah, except that this is unusual weather and the rain is probably not going to be the usual light rain we are used to, but a downpour with the risk of flooded drains and worse. Today three people were killed when a train was derailed in Aberdeenshire due to a terrain rendered dangerous by heavy rain. Climate crisis is with us, and not getting the attention it deserves. There are still countries intent on extracting and using fossil fuels. I don’t get it. I am increasingly in sympathy of the group whose aim for humans to die out. I think the planet would probably be much better without us. Clever we may be, but boy are we destructive.

The main things on the list today got done, though slowly, including making an appointment for a haircut. Outrageously expensive as instead of having it done at the training school I’m going to the salon. Hopefully this cut will last as long as the last one has. The big task was to begin lifting books down from the shelves in the hall which is going to be painted on Friday. The plan was to sort books out for the charity shop and pack the rest in bags. The discarding didn’t go too well, and gradually I realised it was probably better to pile the books on the floor where I could see them and sort them into categories. I was thrilled to find despite my cull last year I still have a copy of Clive James’ Visions Before Midnight. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find more treasures. I still have the greater part of a long shelf to go. Continue reading

The Hairdresser’s Inch

You know what it’s like; there you are at the hairdresser’s and she asks you want you want done. Just tidy it up, you say, keep the shape, I don’t want much cut off. I don’t want it very short. She nods, combs your hair this way and that, examines its texture, comments on the natural wave. You’re quite pleased about this as she seems to like your wave. Some hairdressers want to cut your hair into a straight style, tame it with products and blow dryers.

You expand. I am outside a lot, you explain. My hair is at the mercy of the weather, so I need a style that doesn’t get upset when the wind blows or the rain falls. She folds her lips in an understanding smile and you relax further.

The hairwash and head massage are good. Tensions you didn’t know you were carrying unknot from your shoulders. Then she starts to cut, and the hair drifting past you is rather more than you had anticipated, but your neck is bent forward and you can’t really see what she’s doing, so you concentrate on the book in your lap and let her get on with it. It’s a good book.

At last you are allowed to raise your head. Most of your hair has gone. Your face drops. She looks at you, an enquiry in her raised eyebrows. It’s much shorter than I asked for, you say. Yes, she confides, I cut my first guideline a bit short and that has dictated the length.

There is nothing you can do. She can’t stick it back on. You ask a few more questions, especially about the top, the crown, where you know that when cut short your hair defies gravity and sticks up. You tell her how so many hairdressers have assured you this won’t happen, but it has. She makes soothing noises. And she’s right, because the hair is not sticking up when you are eventually brushed down, rendered visible again without the black gown. Continue reading