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Sinbad’s Voyage of The Golden Bouffant (why I risk Camden Town on a Saturday for a hairdresser)

Like this, only with more cameras and "I heart London" t-shirts.

Like this, only with more cameras and “I heart London” t-shirts.

There truly is no more vile a nest of swarming idiots and dawdling mouth breathing cretins than Camden Town on a Saturday. Not an inch of pavement is left free from the hoards of snail paced imbeciles and gawping holiday makers, stopping up short in the middle of the public thoroughfare and making the place untidy, which makes any simple journey from Camden A to Camden B almost impossible for the innocent civilian, without the aid of a fully charged cattle prod and blade tipped shoes. So why then, do I knowingly suffer this vipers nest of treacle footed tourists every 3 months? Quite simply, for my exorbitantly priced hairdresser.

My journey is nothing short of heroic and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Ray Harryhausen rose from the grave to create claymation effigies of my arduous schlep as the basis for a new Sinbad or Argonauts voyage, which on an ordinary day might take 2 minutes, but on Saturdays takes anything from 2 hours to 6 weeks, just to get from the tube station to the salon, where I shell out enough cash to pay off a small principality’s national debt (plus tip), but she is, to coin a done-to-death hair related phrase, worth it.

The first thing I love about visiting my hairdresser above all other hairdressers is that she is bossy. Well, actually, the first thing I love about my hairdresser’s is the free wine, which you’re allowed to drink at 09:00 without judgement, but a very close second is the fact she’s bossy. I didn’t go to hairdresser school and I don’t spend every day doing hairdressery things. I am not in any shape or form qualified to cut hair (although that didn’t stop me from convincing a chap on his stag do that I was, in order that I could triumphantly relieve him of his mullet), so when I go to the salon with a picture of an impossibly high maintenance model wearing a computer generated bouffant, I want someone to scoff, ignore it completely and get on with dealing with the hair and face that genetics and Chanel cosmetics gave me.

Not only does my hairdresser ignore my ridiculous notions of dramatic colour changes and graphic skull restructuring, she also takes a very firm hand when it comes to hair discipline. A few years ago I went to Las Vegas and California and my sweeping fringe of bleached, artificially straightened hair wasn’t too happy with the sudden introduction to that foreign body known as “the sun” and returned to Blighty a frazzled interpretation of the little pig’s crumpled straw house. Did she sympathise? Did she recommend expensive hair tonics and conditioning balms endorsed by Jennifer Aniston’s horse? No, she cut it all off. All of it. If I couldn’t look after it, I wasn’t allowed to have it any more, and as for the bleach and the prized can’t-live-a-day-without-them GHD straighteners? Banned. Flat out banned.

If I wanted to be cosseted and mollycoddled when it comes to my hair, I’d pay someone’s buxom aunty a fiver to cut around a pudding bowl while hoping it made me look like one of those girl group members half anyone’s age. As it is, I pay someone a handsome price to stop me from looking like I have a sheep stuck on my head. A bargain, I think you’ll agree.

With all the hairstyles and life lessons I’ve left the salon with, my hairdresser has been given but 3 rules; make me look 5 years younger, 10lbs thinner and to never, EVER tell me if she finds a grey hair. So far she’s kept to her end of the deal and is therefore deserving of more trust than a body guard and therapist rolled into one.

The salon is also where I get my guilty fix. No, I’m not on about the wine again – I never feel guilty when it comes to wine, I’m talking about those awful celebrity gossip magazines. You know the ones, where every page is filled with tales of who is bonking who in tinsel town, and glossy close-ups of life threatening cases of cellulite, not to mention the crime reporting on red carpet gusset flashing. I wouldn’t be caught dead purchasing one of these dire voyeuristic rags in everyday life, but somehow, with your head shoved under a dryer and looking like the Bride of Frankenstein, hair dye fumes mellowing your morals and what’s left of your better judgement, it seems ok. I have to admit though, while reading these ragazines, my inner monologue tends to run a little something like “Who is that? Who’s that? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” and vowing never to read it again. Until next time.

The salon juniors, for all their lacklustre floor sweeping and baby-hipster preening, have their uses. Mainly the male ones and expressly when it comes to having your hair washed. I’ve mentioned it before and it still holds true. There’s something I find so delicious about a head massage carried out by someone who appears to be trying to crack open a coconut with their bare hands. Feeling a teenage boy try to drill his fingers into my head is one of the most relaxing things I’ve found on this nerve jangling planet. Judge me all you like but try it and then tell me I’m a sick twisted individual who should be on some form of register.

And now we come to the main reason that I adore visiting my pricely wrangler of hair, in that little sanctuary of snippy scissors and silky shampoo suds; the conversation. Well actually, it’s the lack of conversation. I’m in that salon for 3 hours, and have you ever tried to maintain small talk and idle chit chat for 3 hours without stabbing someone in the eye with a comb? It’s not easy, especially when you’re intoxicated by bleach fumes and Z-list tittle tattle, so here’s where my stylist excels. After the initial 5 minutes of obligatory pleasantries and basic factual exchanges, we both get about doing what it is we do best – I drink free wine and she gets busy with the choppy-chop.

The salon juniors still feel obligated to enquire if I’m “goin’ aaaht tonight?” and are met with a wall of permafrost as I thrust my skull wantonly at their nut-cracker hands. Less chat, more lather! But my darling hairdresser knows that once the glazed expression has descended upon my face, she need not bother probing me for weekend diary details.

It’s not that I don’t like my hairdresser, she’s really rather lovely, but we aren’t friends, we don’t socialise outside of our service exchange relationship and we have little in common, save for the fact we both have a vested interest my hair and no clue who these fake tanned egos are gracing the pages of Heat Magazine, so why should we both force a pointlessly challenging conversation when I’ve got relaxing to do and she’s got curls to tame? No-one in the history of mankind has ever given two rats testicles where someone else plans going for their holiday and it won’t make the slightest difference to the condition of my split ends if I inform her of any forthcoming romantic arrangements, so why bother?

For her compliance and consideration in the matter of the natter, I would gladly pay her double what she fleeces from me (plus tip), but for now I think it’s testament enough that I willingly brave Camden Town’s slow moving wall of human slurry on a Saturday. Actually, thinking about it, this is probably why they have the free wine.

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About prettyfeetpoptoe

I live in London and have both my own legs so I am fortunate enough to get out and about on occasion. I form many views on the things that I see and do and love nothing better than a session of linguistic gymnastics in order to share these views.

19 responses »

  1. Ahhhh… the old ‘free’ wine for Modom trick. Ain’t no such thing!

    Reply
  2. After many years on this earth, I’ve learned that you never replace your accountant, lawyer or hair stylist. Those are just horses you don’t change, midstream. The same gal that’s cut my hair, has done so for over 20 years. She once talked me out of shaving a giant “Z” on the side of my head, even though there is no noticeable Z in my name. But yes, I agree interaction should be kept minimal, even though I’ve now developed the nervous throat clearing tick, just to break the silence. Love the post.

    Reply
    • You’re so right. If mine ever leaves, I shall have to stalk her to the ends of the earth. Well, maybe I’ll just let her pick a replacement and cry for a month.

      Reply
  3. I do my own hair now and have for awhile. It’s not too difficult with the proper barber shop sheers and some determination. However, it needs to be stated that I do not have a full head of hair and just have to make it all 3 mm all over. That is not hard, so I can manage that and save about $12 every three weeks. I don’t blame you for having yours done. I realize, hope, and figure that you have much more hair and that it is not straight.
    Scott

    Reply
  4. I found a new hairdresser a couple of days ago and she was so perfect I wanted to cry. After a horrifying experience with a male hairdresser (call it sexist, but I just don’t think men understand the attachment women have to their hair), I’ve dreaded going to the hairdressers. Now, I am happy to say I’ve found one that is reasonably priced, easy to talk to, actually explains what she’s doing and somehow makes me hair smell beautiful. Hallelujah

    Reply
    • I was surprised to have fallen in love with a female hairdresser, I always found men had a better hand with taming my mane. At the end of the day, so long as they keep the chat to a minimum and stop me from looking a numpty, I’m happy. (The free wine also helps).

      Reply
  5. Nothing makes me brave Camden Town on a Saturday – and I live there!

    Reply
    • I face Camden Town on a daily basis for work and it still doesn’t prepare me for the horrors that unfold on a Saturday after 09:00. *shudder*

      I’m planning on digging a secret tunnel from Mornington Crescent straight to the lock. Shh.

      Reply
  6. A woman cuts my hair at the barbers now. Where will it end? She saked me what I did for a living and i told i designed oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. “Oh” she muttered, “Dolphins scare the shit out of me.”

    Reply
  7. Craig Gambell

    Once again beautifully done. I am but a bloke of simple needs and your witty and wonderfully worded observations make some lunchtimes better than others.

    Reply
  8. First of all – I love that movie! I have fond memories of watching it with my dad when I was little and I am thinking now it’s probably the reason why I’m so fond of skeletons now. Also, a good stylist is so hard to find and once you do find one you hold on to them for dear life! I also have one (who I don’t see nearly enough because I have waist length hair, but getting bangs has definitely helped me see her more often) who understands me and understands my hair. I have also had that horrific experience of having someone chop off my hair against my wishes, so not acceptable.

    Reply

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