Anne here. Thinking about Nicola's blog about what she does when she's finished a book, I realized one thing I invariably do when I've completed a book — or indeed, any big, long-term task, is go and get a haircut.
I love the feeling of going into the hairdresser's tired and a bit dreary and coming out feeling transformed, even if it's not a transformation that's terribly visible to others. I enjoy the pampering, the scalp massage, and the final result — the slightly new-and-better me I have to present to the world.
At the same time there's also a certain level of anxiety — I'm sure we've all experienced it, haven't we — the baaaaad haircut or the nasty dye job. The time when you emerge from under the towels and the goop and the blow-drying and stare appalled into the mirror and realize there is nothing that can be done except go home and stick a paper bag over your head for a week or two. (OK, you can also wear a hat, but hey, where's the drama in that?)
For most of my life, hairdressers were a non-event for me — I had long hair and all it needed was an occasional trim across the bottom, and I always got a friend to do it. It was easy to manage — I could leave it loose, plait it, braid it, or knot it. I could even stick a chopstick through it and the knot would stay all day. But when I finally cut off my long hair the world of hairdressing opened up.
The thing about hairdressers, is you need to shop around to find one who suits you. That means each time you try a new one, you risk your hair —and your ego.
One time I went into the hairdresser's with overlong, shaggy hair — I'd decided to go for a longer look, so had grown it out. I asked for a cut and blonde highlights. I was born a blonde and was naturally silvery blonde until my late twenties, when my hair started to darken — in all the pictures on my life story on my website, the hair is untreated, apart from summer sun-bleaching. These days it's just plain mouse brown, so now I pay money to return it to what I think of as my natural color.
So there I was with my hairstyle and color grown out, and I told the stylist what I wanted: a longer style and creamy blonde highlights — subtext: a fresh new gorgeous me, please.
I came out of that place with very short hair (about an inch all over) dyed an ash gray, feeling and looking a lot older than I'd gone in, and wishing I'd brought a large paper bag with me. I know I could have demanded they fix the color, at least, but I don't much trust people who've ruined your hair once. So I never went back and now I've found me a new hairdresser and so far have been very happy.
I originally went in there because I was going on TV the following day, and the only other time I'd been on TV the make-up department had teased my hair up into a style I'd never in my life wear — I call it Helmet o' Hair and I felt like an escapee from the 1960's. Ghastly. So I went to my new hairdresser with the brief that I wanted a hair cut which would render a Helmet o' Hair-do impossible. I'm glad to say he succeeded. It's the cut in the picture on the sidebar.
A good haircut or hairdo is, I think, essential to feeling good. In my upcoming (October) book my heroine has a friend who's a dairymaid — the worst dairymaid in the world — she hates cows. Her aim in life is to become a lady's maid, and she practices creating hairstyles on my heroine. It's a period of time out and pleasure for both of them.
What fascinates me is how wildly hair fashions change from period to period, and the huge time, expense and money we women go to to achieve it. And at any one time, the current fashionable style looks hideous on a good proportion of the population.
All in a generation or so. (The pics are of Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Lady Caroline Lamb, by the way)
Not all that different to this, in scope, I suppose, in just a few years. Anyone own to any of these styles in their past?
But if I thought the torture of a tipping cap (like being pecked by a hundred birds) was bad (thank goodness for foils) imagine what these women would have had to endure to achieve these styles. created over frames of wire, and with loads of fake hair and curls and all kinds of interesting ornaments and combs and decorations attached. The weight of it! The balance! The heat! The neck-ache!
Of course, the more extreme styles would have been wigs, and they'd probably have short cropped hair underneath, but even so, imagine walking or dancing or eating with such towering edifice on your head. I can just imagine sitting down to a bowl of soup and splash! there goes my expensive hairdo into the soup and me left bald and blushing.
So glad my heroine and her friend only have to cope with regency hairdos and not these monstrosities. And very glad I was born when I was.
So let's talk hair — did any of the styles shown in the pics ring a bell for you? And what's the worst bad hair experience you've had?