Sunday, 1 May 2011

Why vouchers aren’t always good news and hairdressers should stick to talking about the weather

I cheated on my hairdresser.

I knew I shouldn't  – but I got a voucher. I know you’ll understand. Reputable chain, 50% off, and with the senior stylist. It was, to coin a phrase, ‘a no-brainer.’

Before you go imagining a wonky fringe, yellow highlights or a hideous bowl cut, my hair is fine.

But I am not. It was horrific. I left feeling slightly dirty, relatively traumatised, and with a solemn vow never to return.

I have been trying to determine why.

At first I thought it was because my hairdresser, Pete from Darlington, spent the full hour sleazily cracking onto me. ‘I’m not gay’ he said within 3 minutes. I politely laughed. It is unfortunate that the nature of the set up meant he was looking directly at me for an hour.

But I think the problem lay deeper than his less than subtle chat up lines. An example of one such line: ‘You remind me of someone.’ (Dramatic pause.) ‘Someone I once slept with.’


The problem was that he wasn’t following the unwritten (but entirely real) laws of being English. As a hairdresser he should have been well versed in the art of small talk and interaction with total strangers. But he wasn't. 

He knew my name. This in itself was problematic. We English do not like strangers to know our names. Nor do we wish to know theirs. Certainly not until a much greater degree of friendship has been established. But as I had given my real name at booking, it was reasonable that he might refer to me as it. But he shortened it, without permission, or years of friendship to excuse it. ‘Rach’ he repeatedly called me. Crime of all crimes: over-familiarity.

He continued down this line of crimes against the English, moving, with pace and without grace onto another: invasion of privacy. Does he not realise that we are a reserved and inhibited bunch? Invasion of privacy is a very serious matter, punishable in a court of law. We are taught as children to mind our own business, not to hang our dirty laundry in public and never, oh lord never, to be a nosy parker.

Pete was a nosy parker.  Pete, listen up. It is not polite to ask me what I do for a living, why I moved, do I have children, am I married, how old I am, where I live, which gym I attend, my motivation for exercising, where I like to drink, why my last 2 relationships failed or my bra size. Only the last one is made up. And he may have asked this whilst the hairdryer was blasting. Prying bastard.

Crime three. Perhaps this was the crime, being trapped as I was, that made me feel most violated. He was touchy bloody feely. Please know that I do not have ‘personal-space issues.’ I like affection, hugging and friendly touching with a very select group of people. Casual acquaintances and my current creepy hairdresser are not in this group. Even with my closest friends I am still not entirely sure what to do. Should we hug or kiss? Is it one kiss or two? Where should we put our hands? But the most pressing question of all, why does the hairdresser keep touching me?

I must say, I was reminded of the time I shook the hand of a removal man, with whom I had been acquainted just long enough for him to move a sofa, and he kissed me sloppily on the face. But that’s a story for another day.

Pete kept touching me. Obviously he had to touch my hair and head for the purpose of the haircut. But my shoulder? My neck? My back?

I’m sure you’re wondering if I said something. If I asked this gentleman to cease his interrogation, stop touching me, and kindly refer to me as Miss Brown – if at all?

Well of course not, it wouldn’t be terribly polite to do that would it now? I am English you know.


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