I am not sure what it is about mothers and curls (or perhaps it's just my family) but a recent visit home found me re-experiencing a childhood nightmare. With dad unwell, I am often on a train back to Kent at weekends and generally spend much of my time trying to ignore the dire rural-set detective shows my parents seem to enjoy watching (sorry if you're a fan of this type of programme but they're something else I just don't get).
On this particular trip, I was sporting a particularly bad haircut. I don't feel it's fair to blame my hairdresser as she did the best she could with appalling materials (thin “fly away” dyed snapped off hair of uneven length) and did a fantastic job with the back. As normal Big G looked at my hair and pulled a face, this time pleading with me to let her curl it.
As a child, both little sis and I were subjected to many a night lying in bed desperately trying to sleep with agonising hair curlers jabbing us in the head. I also remember the pain of having them put in and worse still the feeling of them being tugged from my hair. The prospect of reliving this experience wasn't appealing but as I knew I wouldn't be attempting to sleep with curlers in and wouldn't be spotted by anyone I knew, for some reason I decided to indulge Big G.
With only a few hours before the performance of The King's Speech that we'd booked tickets for, I was about to undergo a major transformation. About a year ago, I gave in to the pressures of Big G and little sis constantly telling me to dye my hair. I used to have very blonde hair but as soon as I hit my teens it turned much darker and my roots now look almost black, despite the ends remaining pretty light. I was going through a particularly depressed time when I'd had quite enough with my appearance and decided any change would be for the better. Of course since agreeing to that first application, it's been pretty hard to go “au naturale” again and I'm now a slave to dye manufacturers.
Washing the dye out of my hair, I got a nasty surprise. My hair has once gone a strange orange colour from the combination of hair dye and chlorine but has never been this blonde before. With my dark eyebrows, it looked pretty strange but I had little time to fret before Big G was winding my hair round small black plastic tubes. Occasionally making hissing noises I had to repeatedly remind her to take care with the little hair I have.
After sitting under her old-skool 60s salon-style hairdryer and painfully having the curlers wrenched from my hair, the final result was met with hysterical laughter by little sis. Of course with glee Big G rather disturbingly cried: “You look just like your sister used to!” Clearly pleased by the end result, she waited in the lounge while I went to inspect myself in the nearest mirror. The final result was something I couldn't help but also laugh at, safe in the knowledge that I could at least instantly remove the curls, if not the rather artificial-looking colour. I looked like I was wearing a blonde Scouse wig and with my glasses on, rather disturbingly resembled a boy called Nathan I knew through a friend at University.
I expect you'll be wondering whether I actually made it to the cinema like that and the answer would be “yes”. I have to confess though, that I took the coward's route and made myself look rather freaky by wearing a scarf around my whole head for the entire film.
Later that night as yet more dodgy detective programmes were viewed, I entertained myself playing around in Photoshop and discovered that with a little doctoring photographic evidence of my temporary “do” actually bared an uncanny likeness to the Moors Murderer, Myra Hindley.
No disrespect to those with curly hair because there are plenty of both famous and everyday folk out there who have great curly hair.... but I'll never understand the attraction of spending hours creating artificial curls - especially not when you've got really short hair and the aim is to create huge wavy ones that remind me of the older generation, in particular my nan and the Queen. If I think back to being a child, the old nursery rhyme comes to mind:
“There was a little girl,
who had a little curl,
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
she was very, very good,
but when she was bad, she was horrid.”
And of course that old trick to get children to eat the crusts of brown bread – “it'll make your hair curly”. I have never wanted curly hair and I can now confidently say I still don't – perhaps that's why I'm not a brown bread fan.
For now I will have to tolerate my radioactive-looking hair and reassure myself with the notion, “ice blonde” is apparently this season's colour. Perhaps when I'm the same age as my nan or the Queen I'll be happy “au naturale” again and willingly trying to curl my hair.