Thursday, March 10, 2022

My Life In ... Hair Styles

The thirteenth in an occasional series of alternative Curriculum Vitae because no-one on their death bed says "I wish I'd spent more time in the office".

Barbers (November 1961, age 9). My final year at Thorns junior school. As a schoolboy one went the the barbers for a haircut. Fairly brutal, functional places. They treated your head like an adjustable action man figure. Bang it to the left, cut that side. Slap it to the right, cut that side. Smack your head forward, do the back of your neck. No grace or courtesy. No chat or banter. Mind you had they spoken it would most likely have been football about which I know nothing and care less.

Barbers (November 1964, age 13). I have no pictures from my teenage years apart from the biennial school portraits. Not one. My parents weren’t into pictures of their children. Everyone else I know has pictures of their offspring growing up, their graduation, wedding, grandchildren. My parents had none. It’s like we didn’t exist. Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you more.

Beatles mop top (Spring 1971, age 18). Publicity shot for the local paper The Kenilworth Weekly News. My school, Kenilworth Grammar School, was only 10 years old and we three were the first ever from our school to get to Oxbridge. As such we were the darlings of our headmaster (R. N."Ronnie" Mitchell, Cantab.) and I never got any grief for my shockingly long (!) hairstyle although he did glower at me.

Transition Beatle / Hippie (Autumn 1971, age 19). My National Union of Students id. photo courtesy of a Photo Me booth. Got to love the cheesecloth shirt - I was so on trend. Not sure about the dodgy 'tache.

Maximum hair (Summer 1973, age 20). It never grew any longer than this. Featuring the start of my, now politically incorrect, Robertson’s gollie badge collection courtesy of dumpster diving on my summer job as a dustman.

Graduation (June 1975, age 22). For the ceremony you had to wear academic gown trimmed with rabbit fur and a mortar board - tassel to the left, of course.

Unisex salon (1975). The barbers of my teenage years were exclusively male. It was a pleasant shock the first time I went to a unisex salon where an attractive young lady fondled my scalp. Looking back it makes me realise how times have changed.

Permed (June 1979, age 26). My sister’s wedding. I call it my Marc Bolan look, others think it's more Noddy Holder.

Permed (January 1980, age 27). My work’s pass from day one on my new job at Coopers & Lybrand (Management Consultancy Services). My perm was freshly washed and in full effect for the first day at work, positively Roger Daltrey. As you can see I failed to surrender upon leaving.

Purple hair (Early 1980’s). I was seriously planning to go purple next inspired by Space 1999 and Crystal Tipps but as I was now working in the City I bottled it. You had to look the part: pinstripe suit, silk tie and serious black shoes (Loakes or Church’s).

The C&L consultants’ handbook had this to say about dress code: 

“The consultant’s attire should not be so staid as to make them appear fuddy duddy nor should it be so flamboyant as to make them appear frivolous and lacking in character.”  I suspect purple hair might well have fallen into the latter category.

Blonde highlights and beard (Summer 1982, age 29). On a canal holiday in the south of France. I had to treat myself to a special pair of beard scissors (they are a thing). I call it my George Michael designer stubble look, others think it’s more Noel Edmonds. 

Classic haircut and beard (Mid 1980’s, age 30's). City slicker working for BIS (Applied Systems) with my burgundy frames. This is my “Video Killed the Radio Star” look. Boy, were those glasses heavy. With a prescription of -6.0 they were like bottle bottoms. 

Spiked hair (Circa 1987, aged 35). Short hair worked into spikes with plenty of gel. Alas no extant pictures survive.

Well groomed (October 1999, age 47). Head shot for the self-appointed director of the newly founded M&M Enterprises Ltd as I went self employed. Note the absence of glasses as I was wearing contact lenses at the time.

Skinhead / Bovver boy (September 2021). I never understood why the barber would hold up a mirror so I could see the back of my head and ask “How is that?” I didn’t give a hoot, I never look at the back of my head. 

What I did mind as I progressed through my 60's was the shiny spot on the top of my head which got larger as the hair got thinner. I don’t think I want to see that! I knew there would be a time when I would be at risk of entering comb over territory. A style faux pas to be avoided. So last year I bowed to the inevitable and went for a number 3 on top, grading to a 1 at the sides. I have had to buy a beanie because I really feel the chill.

Note the white mark behind the left ear which I have never been able to see before. I know what it is. In my mid teens, whilst exploring round the back of Kenilworth Castle, some unknown youth fired a stone from a catapult which hit me on the head and knocked me unconscious. There was blood and I can still feel the lump.

I guess that’s it as I work my way towards total hair loss. Genes don’t always work in one’s favour. My father, mother and uncle all had a good head of hair till the day they died. My brother who is only 15 months younger than me still had a real mop of hair. But I’m not bitter.

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