I finally said farewell to my hair a few days ago. After realising that my increasingly thinning barnet was beginning to look like a kind of candyfloss comb-over, a pathetic piece of tonsorial tumbleweed clinging to my sparsely covered dome, I instructed my hairdresser to “either shave it all off or crop it really short.” He chose the latter, reasoning that it would probably look OK without going for a fully shaven head. I’m sort of glad he did. We’ve been together for a very long time, my hair and me. To lose it all in one go might have been a bit much.
My mother tells me that when I was born the nurses on the maternity ward called me ‘The Poet’ because I arrived in the world with long black shoulder-length hair. It took me years to realise that far from being a luxurious rock star hairstyle my “shoulder-length hair” was made up of little more than a few straggly strands that almost instantly dropped out and were gradually replaced by a mop of slowly darkening golden brown curls that would serve me well for the next few decades. Back in the 1960s and 70s my long, flowing locks were a vital part of my visual identity.
In recent years however my hair has gradually turned grey, become thinner and in the past year or two has clearly given notice to quit completely. So it was that that a few days ago Antonio my Italian hairdresser, scissors and clippers in hand, delivered the coup-de-gras. Having finished he admired his handywork before explaining with a flourish in his inimitable Italian accent: “I have done a number two on your ‘ead” Seeing my raised eyebrow, Antonio was anxious to reassure, telling me. “Maybe I’ll do a number one next time.” I’m not often speechless but….