carte grise

May-June 2014 035

She had such a smiley, open face, and I don’t think she was being sarcastic, but as compliments go it was certainly strange.

We were in the park and the dog had its usual “Happy! I’m so happy!” wiggle up when the woman heading towards us made the fatal mistake of making eye contact.

Next minute she was gone, cooing the kind of noises babies, puppies and kitten evoke as the dog danced delighted before her.

Perhaps the woman thought I felt left out.

I like the way your dog matches your hair,” she said by way of polite conversation.

Say what? It’s not like we contrived it!

When we bought the dog as a bundle of fluff that fitted into your palm she was coal black with a few white tips, but steadily changed colour so that now – nearly five years old – she’s a silver grey.

And, minus the fitting in the palm bit, the dog might give a similar account of me.

The recent decision to stop dyeing my hair seemed as natural as cutting off the largely redundant 40 – 50 centimetres had been a few years earlier.

I told myself back then there comes an an age when we no longer require tresses to impress.

Truth was my hair was a poor thin version of the lustrous locks I’d sported in my 20s and 30s and owned more to product than protein.

Women’s relationship with their hair is extremely complex.

Part plumage and part prophesy as a barometer of emotional state, hair is more reliable than a polygraph.

So I should have had some inkling that something was afoot when I went to visit an life-time dark brunette friend only to discover she’d become, overnight, a cool beige blonde.

In the next eight months she proceeded to leave her husband, take up with a man who runs triathlons and professes to love tofu, and retrain as a real estate agent, by which time her hair had become dazzling ice white.

And she isn’t the only one.

Another friend who, like me, was a close-cropped salt and pepper grey, recently stepped out as a peroxide blonde with a rockabilly quiff which she routinely sprays different colours to match her outfits.

Naturally I was moved to ask: Do blondes with periwinkle pomades have more fun?

Hell yeah!” replied she.

When a third friend, a natural blonde, went cherry red last week I began to wonder if health authorities realised how many people were dyeing.

Is this the manifestation of a female mid-life crisis?

Men starting wearing lycra and riding pushbikes in packs while women hit their hairdressers up for hydrogen peroxide.

Coco Chanel once said a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.

But, a codicil to that might be that a woman who, suddenly, dyes her hair the opposite of her natural colour is about to change everyone else’s.

My friends have made me think … a little.

About whether, for example, I really want to match my wee grey dog at this stage of life.

About whether, if you’ve never, ever been blonde, brunette or redhead you should try it just once.

It’s probably less painful and more sensible than getting a tattoo of Peter Pan on your shoulder.

And, after, all you know what they say.

Hair today, gone tomorrow.


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