The Gnome introduced me to her posh hairdresser. I like it. In a sort of diluting down of Groucho Marx's famous quote, I'm most at ease in clubs that will let me join, but would rather I didn't. As I sit there waiting for Petal, my personal stylist, I feel about as elegant as a sack of potatoes that's been on a three day bender. All around me are brightly coloured bottles of fabulously expensive chemicals that claim to do things that I never knew needed doing. There I sit, marvelling that I've ever managed to get through life without menthol scented wave rigidising plasma. And doubting that that bright green stuff really does de-sex your follicles, no matter how much comfrey it has in it. In and out walk fabulously thin, fabulously well dressed, unnervingly unattractive women.
What is it with miraculously thin and impeccably dressed women and kissing some special magic piece of air hovering about six inches above each shoulder? Maybe that's where their g-spot is. That would explain the appalling luck I've had with such women. Their magic button is in a place that I not only can't see but would require a step ladder to reach. I suspect the real reason that they don't actually kiss each other is that it's just not safe to venture too far into the chemical cocktail of perfume, cosmetics and miracle hair care products surrounding their heads. If they did actually kiss each other Mediterranean style (greeting the Gnome's father for example, is like being intimately nuzzled by a power sander) they'd probably both stagger backwards and pass out. Either that or some ancillary chemical reaction would turn their foundation a deep, reptilian green.
Thankfully, Petal arrives and wraps me in a black kaftan thing which I always try to get into from the wrong side thus necessitating a half-assed passo doble. Then she hands me over to the wash your hair girl. Now look there is nobody less qualified to indulge in body facism than I, but, well, in posh hairdressers, there is definitely some sort of beauty apartheid being enforced. All the "stylists" are lithe, elegantly dressed and well, stylish. The wash your hair girls are uniformly of a greyish pallour that I did not think to ever see again, now that I've left Scotland. This is what I really don't understand. Don't these shuffling acned cygnets become swans at some point? How does that happen? Maybe all it takes is a full kiss on the lips and they emerge from the miasmic haze rosy-cheeked and beautified.
Finally we get down to business. In best Harold Pinter/Stasi style the glasses come off and the interrogation begins. "What kind of conditioning do you use?" "Erm, well, ah." "Is your hair dry or fly away?" "Nggh?" "Do we need to combat any styling build up?" I've been accused of many things but never a build-up of style. Thinking about it though, any luminous herbal concoction that would remove heavy build-up would sell well with men in the age range 14- 85 (probably some sort of non-rigidising plasma).
Petal, ever the professional, seems to manage to regard me with an expression of wry puzzlement, but the wash your hair girls, being nearer to mere mortals, (and I suppose it's fair to say, very near this particular mere mortal, not noted for his pleasant fragrance) can only manage unalloyed disgust. "When did you last wash your hair?" "Erm, Arrgh!" Why are they running the water so hot? And then back to Petal for the real killer - "How would you like it?" "Well, erm, shorter."