Bagelmouse goes to the hairdresser

I could do a whole series of these. Bagelmouse Gets on a Bus. Bagelmouse Eats a Pie. Bagelmouse Does the Washing Up. I’d make a fortune from a series of children’s books – the next Wibbly Pig sensation!


What is it about going to the hairdresser that simultaneously destroys my self esteem and increases my Englishness? Or maybe it’s the increase of the Englishness itself that destroys the self esteem. (I’m reading Kate Fox’s genius and very funny book Watching the English at the moment, so all my thinking is very much along the lines of cod-anthropology.) Whenever I get in there I crumple. They ask me what I want, and I want to say: "Give me something low maintenance. I own neither serum nor straighteners" – I once had to ask Liz what ‘GHD’s were, and in fact I just Googled ‘GHD‘ to make sure I had that right – "and on a morning I can just about be bothered to comb it. If I’m feeling adventurous, I might put a clip in. It’s very thick so just hack away. Yes, I said ‘hack’. There’s so much of it nobody will notice. Don’t do anything weird with the sides. I spend all day tucking my hair behind my ears and if the sides are weird they just stick out. Or go curly. And I’m not 12 so that’s bad. Don’t make my head look like a big ball. I hate that. I really hate that. And don’t dry the fringe bit so far over my eyes that I can’t see, I have to catch a bus home when I leave here you know."

What actually happens is I sit in the chair and whimper "can you take the weight out? And I’m trying to grow it but need the layers…", at which point I peter out and make floppy hand gestures.

I was listening to one woman – younger than me – giving very precise instructions as to what she wanted, pointing out the little eccentricities of her hair and, most importantly, saying what she did not want. I can’t bring myself to do that. It’s part English reticence to talk to a stranger about something as personal as my hair and part English embarrassment because I don’t know much about hair and fashion and I feel like an ass telling a professional what to do with it. I know I need to because they can’t read minds but I Just. Can’t. Do. It. I’m worried I’m asking for something uncool, or something I’m not cool enough to carry off. Or something stupid. And I don’t really know what I want, I don’t know if I want it mid-length with an asymetrical side parting with feathered ends. What do those words mean?! I want it to be non-annoying and not to require a lot of tending to with products that I also don’t understand.

Maybe it would be easier to get a good hat. Or a paper bag.


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