Some time ago I wrote a post about how awful it is to go out with unkempt hair. But recently I found out that too much of a good thing can be bad too.
Having my hair nice-looking has always been really important to me. I spend a small fortune on my hair, and when living back in the sticks used to make the trip up to London just to visit my hairdressers. Local friends took the mickey out of me mercilessly and some were incredulous that I should 'waste' a day just to have my hair done. Of course when the children were small these trips were far and few between, but when they started school, ahem, just a few years ago, I had a standing two monthly 'hair-run' up to town.
So I don't let just anyone touch my hair. Hence I'm not sure what came over me recently. I had a couple of hours to kill in Tampere before taking the train to Helsinki. I chose to spend them in a hairdressers chair in an unknown salon in the middle of Finland in a town I was born in but haven't lived in since I was eleven years old. I must have been temporarily deranged.
In this state, however, I skipped and hopped to a salon in a well-known department store in the city and asked if they could wash and style my hair. It was a Thursday afternoon and the salon had no bookings.
The girl asked me the usual questions about where I lived, etc. and was mightily impressed when I told her I'd just moved to London. I said I wanted to have my hair done because I was going to see my friends in Helsinki and would love it if I didn't have to do my hair again for a couple of days. The girl nodded and as she pulled at my wet locks I decided to stop the chatting. It obviously affected her concentration. By the time I got out of the washing area she'd managed to wash half of my face as well as block my ears with the water. I was beginning to feel a little faint thinking that if she couldn't even wash hair properly, how could she blow dry it?
When I sat down in front of the mirror and she told me that I had ' a lot of hair and it was all very strong,' I regained some of my confidence. She knew something at least. Besides with wet hair I was too far gone by now. I just nodded and said that it does take a long time to dry and it might be best not to try to style it from absolutely wet. The girl nodded and started to pin my dripping hair up and blow dry it section by section. Just what I had told her not to do.
I sat back in the chair and tried to concentrate on Gloria, the Finnish Vogue.
But the pain of having your hair pulled by an inexperienced hairdresser was too much. I was compelled to watched in silence as she struggled to dry my hair in just the wrong way. Finally when she'd finished, I started to pull at the uncomfortable gown and got up.
'Ill just backcombe it a bit,' she said and gently pushed me back down onto the chair.
Now, I'm very lucky yo have strong, plentiful hair, I have never even tried to backcombe it. Mainly because it just doesn't need it, and partly because the practise just reminds me of the kind of hair that women in Heartbeat and other old TV series set in the 1960's have. It looks good on a 18-year-old but if I tried it people would probably think I'd jut never got around changing my hairstyle...ok, I'm not THAT old, but you get the picture.
But this girl loved backcombing my hair. As well as the top, she did the fringe, the sides, everything. And then she flicked the ends up. While she worked she sprayed hair lacquer all over my hair. I watched in shocked silence. I wasn't able to say anything, nor remove myself from the chair. The end result was a bad version of this:
I think what the hairdresser was trying to do was the hairstyle Zoe Lucker sports in East Enders, above.
As soon as I got out of her clutches I ran to the ladies' loos on the top floor of the store and with my fingers tried to flatten the bouffant. But the hairspray stood fast and I resigned myself to having to meet my old school friends looking like our mothers did when we were born.
The one up side was that I didn't have to wash the hair for about a week. In that sense the Tampere hairdresser did exactly what I'd asked her to do.