In a Word...

 

If this goes on much longer I’ll need planning permission just to get my eyebrows out the front door. The jambs will have to give. And that’s just my eyebrows. You should see my hair!

Okay. I should be grateful. I have hair while many contemporaries grieve for theirs. Still, I never expected to hear myself say “I’d be lost without gel...”

Moi? Yes, moi.

Every morning now I reach for the gel and lather it across overflowing locks to flatten them down like those dull, grey men from 1940s black and white movies.

I haven’t had a haircut since mid-December, then in preparation for that “meaningful” Christmas (let’s not talk about it!). Not since student days has there been such a gap since my last visit to the barber.

In truth, such visits were rare in my student days, as much for financial as aesthetic reasons. My golden locks remained untrimmed, in another “up yours” to convention, respectability, the 9-5, “short-back-and-sides” normality.

I even let my beard grow once. Very briefly. It was shaved off pronto, as what emerged was brightest red while all the rest was fair, as was my moustache which was there for years before anyone noticed. So light was its colouring, it contrasted dramatically with my Robert the Bruce red beard.

One had to go. Eventually both did. Go.

Yet, not once in those days would I ever have contemplated using gel, or Brylcreem, then associated with elderly men in their Sunday best whose remaining shreds of wispy hair were darkened and plastered to their skulls by that suffocatingly perfumed, glistening hair cream.

An overwhelming abundance of hair may have been in favour with myself and contemporaries in those times, but it was not always so. Many years previously, before I reached what is laughingly referred to as the age of reason, I took a scissors to the fine blonde down that was my childhood hair and cut most of it off.

That done, I began to do the same for a younger brother when our mother arrived on the scene. She was not impressed, even when I explained we wanted to be like Korky, an elderly man and family friend who was bald.

Since then I’ve refrained from attempting to cut my own hair.

Even my eyebrows.

Hirsute: `hairy’, from Latin hirsutus, `rough, shaggy’.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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