(Post by John Allan, from Bridgetown, Western Australia – February 2021)
One of the many saddening vagaries of the ageing process is the changing condition of ones hair. What was once a silky bounce of flaxen tresses is now a flat listless nest of grey going on snowy pelt. Or not at all.
I can still remember skipping through the summer meadows in slow motion with my golden locks swirling like a murmuration of starlings, the zig zagging motion of my face as I remembered the past and the light bulb that pinged above my head as an idea came to mind (The young of today would never believe you – they need apps and filters for that sort of thing.)
I am blessed with a full head of hair. I’m not bragging, it’s just a statement of fact. I realise that some of you (the majority male I hope) may be follicly challenged but I’m just saying I still have hair – growing out my nose, growing out my ears. I reckon if I started at my shoulders, I can do a comb-over that could challenge Cousin It !
As a kid, hair was no big deal. You jumped out of bed with an exploded haystack on your head. You didn’t care. Mum would. She would attack you with a sodden comb, brylcream and spit to keep the fringe out of your eyes. The only inconvenience was the haircut, whether it be the bowl and the good kitchen scissors or done professionally. A packet of crisps with the twist of blue papered salt was the bribe to get me to sit on that small plank straddling the armrests of the Milngavie barber’s chair.
In the 70s in our teens, we were a bit more (self) conscious about what grew out of our noggins and were greatly influenced by the stars of the day.
The most popular style was the feather cut or mullet sported by such icons as Bowie’s Ziggy, Rod Stewart – who wore it well though I didn’t think him sexy – and every professional footballer. The mullet still exists in small towns in Australia. “Too bloody right mate !”
You got two for one with John Travolto with either the slicked back Elvis look of ‘Grease’ or the shoulder length coiffure of ‘Welcome Back Cotter’ – and I haven’t even touched on ‘Saturday Night Fever’
Then there was the tight curls of the man perm or if it was longer, the Robert Plant/Shirley Temple look. I’ll leave fellow contributors to discuss certain styles popular in the punk era ! As for the whole issue of Afros, dreadlocks and braids, Dudley Moore might have given Bo Derek a 10 but lets face it, she would get a 9 and a half with a paper poke on her head. I bumped into a redhead with an Afro once. Scared the living Bejesus out of me. A certain skin tone is required to pull that look off and it’s not peely-wally !
That leads me to shaving. When you convince yourself that those 4 tufts of bum fluff on your chinny chin chin are the start of your career as a Karl Marx look-a-like, it’s time to raid the bathroom cabinet.
Dad’s razor was something out of the 1920s. All stainless steel and fiddly screws. Just putting in the razor blade made the bathroom look like an abattoir. Then you reach for the shaving cream. There used to be a neat wee brush and soap thingy but Papa has gone all modern and got an aerosol. You give it a good long squirt then you realise it should have gone on your face so you clean the mirror and start again. Gentle strokes on the chin then lift up the nose and lower the upper lip like a posh lady smelling her own farts for the ‘tash. Towel off the excess cream and give it a few seconds and…………..oh ! That’s stingy, a bit of Old Spice should do the trick. I’ll leave the Blue Stratos ‘cos I know that’s for special occasions. No ! Stings even more. And don’t be lulled into thinking a splash on the scrotum will freshen things up in the love department…………….WE’VE ALL DONE THAT !…………….once !
I think my father had the same haircut for all of his 90 years. The only exception he had was his sideburns. They started to migrate south in the 60s and hung about most of the 70s. They had a long way to travel. Dad had big ears. Think John Greig holding the Scottish Cup. I think they retreated in the 80s only to join up altogether in the 90s for the pilgrim fathers look. It took another decade before the moustache caught up.
So don’t despair dear reader as you buff your shiny domes with an oily rag.
(Big finish ! Wait for it, wait for it )
You know what they say,
Hair today, gone tomorrow !