The flu is abating. These are probably famous last words but I am feeling vaguely human again. Helped, in huge part, by braving gale and flood to get to the hairdressers. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ said Adrian. ‘You’ll get stranded. Phone up and reschedule.’ No way, mate. The one thing men never understand is that one’s entire mood is affected by the state of one’s hair. If I want to reinvent myself, up my game and so on, I’m never going to do it with hair like brambles (with a solid inch of roots to boot).
No, it was a case of ‘come hell or high water’ (and most definitely the latter). OK, so there was a pretty hairy bit when I had to negotiate through a river that had decided to veer across the road (avoiding the unfortunate car that had been abandoned with water up to its windows) but it was worth it, every heart-stopping second of it.
I love my hairdresser. I found him when we first moved to Somerset – then lost him when we moved out to wildest Exmoor (when there was absolutely NO point in having even vaguely decent hair – a woolly cap was the only way to go). On moving into town I decided it might be a blast to go back. I did wonder if he would still be there – he wasn’t exactly a spring chicken twelve years ago – but, oh yes, nothing changes in the world of…… Hmm, I shall learn my lesson and call him, let’s see - Barry.
Barry is a true phenomenon – and, if you go by looks alone, possibly the man least likely to be a hairdresser. Short, stocky, face crinkled like a walnut, clad in a black suit – he looks like he ought be to a Mafioso or a dodgy car dealer. He is also most definitely Not Gay.
‘Hey, baby…’ he drawled, as I came into the salon, ‘Looking goooood.’
Yes, I know, it sounds unbearably irritating and was one of the reasons I abandoned him on my Exmoor move. But, as one gets older, it becomes amusing rather than predatory and, by heck, he is darn good with hair. His tiny ‘salon’ is fabulous too – polished boards, the most VAST ornate gilded mirror and a stonking great chandelier dripping with crystal – totally oversized, a heck of a lot of style statement crammed into a small package (bit like Barry really).
I don’t think I have ever heard anyone talk about holidays in this place. It has the feel of a club and nine times out of ten, everyone will join in the same conversation – which can range from politics to art to cookery to local salacious gossip (the latter always the best bit). It’s not unknown to be handed a glass of champagne (quite free – no silly overpriced menus here) or for Barry to rush out yelling, ‘I need chocolate’ and come back dispensing Galaxy bars to everyone in sight.
This time I picked his brains on log burners and we had a bit of a gossip about the locals (see, how good am I? Not a name in sight): who had been thrown out for having a love-child; who might be having an affair; who might be selling up and who was spending an obscene amount of money doing up a house they will only use as a second home (grrrrr). Then we got into the juicy rumour that a certain ex-prime minister might be moving down to Exmoor. No, see, his name will not pass my lips – but it doesn’t take Brain of Britain to figure it out.
‘He wouldn’t last a minute,’ opined Barry. ‘They’d tear him apart.’
Maybe. Maybe not. I wouldn’t give much for his chances in Exford (capital of hunting) but elsewhere on the moor, they’re a pretty tolerant bunch. The major problem would be one of security. This isn’t the kind of place you can sink into obscurity. Everyone knows everyone’s business – usually before you know it yourself.
I have to say, the idea of his wife shopping for shabby chic in South Molton has a certain charm, but I can’t see it happening. Still, it’s a jolly thought, one to get us through the dark days of January. That, and my new hair which is shiny and glossy and flicks up fetchingly at the ends. Or as Barry said, with a twinkle and a wink, ‘Foxxxxy.’
PS - the pic is NOT my new hairstyle, nothing to do with Barry (who would doubtless sue if I suggested it was) - but one from many MANY moons ago.....