Sunday, August 20, 2006


The next two posts are the ones I have found most difficult to write in this blog's history.

They are about the bane of my life. They are about my hair.

Above is a picture of some young women who were part of a sibling vocal act that regularly appeared as guests on light entertainment-style tv programmes in the mid to late 1970's. Actually, I seem to remember that there were about a dozen of them, but perhaps the others were "disappeared" due to a light entertainment coup on Blackpool Tower Ballroom during a recording of Seaside Special.


It should be noted that between the ages of twelve and sixteen, we are not, in general, creative, independent and rebellious, as tends to be suggested by older people who like to romanticise their past. In fact, within our peer group, we are as conformist as can be.

Look at a group of teens walking down the street and their identikit clothes/hair/jewellery/mannerisms, and note the desire to belong.

Luckily, growing up in the drab 1970's, at least we had yet to be subjected to the need to wear expensive designer crappy sportswear. Vile, drab, floppy highwaister trousers, wing collars and disgusting v-neck jumpers were standard wear for boys, along with those wide fronted noisy shoes with metal segs (known as blakeys by southern jess readers). Vile, drab, floppy highwaister skirts, wing collars and skyscraper orthopaedic shoes were standard wear for girls. We looked a complete mess.

The main thing about hair, regardless of your gender, was that it had to be collar length, shiny, layered, have flicky bits at the side and had to TURN UNDER at the back and sides. NO FLYAWAY BITS ALLOWED. It was blow dried by the hairdresser and that was it.

For someone with naturally curly hair this meant that every hairdresser appointment was a nightmare. You managed to emerge from the salon looking neat and glossy after half an hour with one of those circular hairbrushes being dragged around your head under a scaldingly hot hairdryer, but, in a decade devoid of hair products like mousse, serum or wax, within a few hours you were back to the usual I Have Spent The Evening Helping The Police With Their Enquiries look (minus the suspicious looking bruises).

The full extent of my outsider/failure status emerged when L***** B**** shouted at me "NO ONE WOULD WANT TO WALK AROUND WITH A TATTY HEAD OF HAIR LIKE YOURS" during registration circa 1976.

What can I say? Thankfully, punk emerged in the same year and gave some of us an excuse to walk around looking as though we had emerged from a cement mixer.

Well, I didn't look anything more threatening that Quietly New Wave as it happens, being too much of a wuss. It would've solved a lot of problems if I'd been hard though.

* * * * * **

Part two of this tragic epic voyage of self discovery to follow soon.

Why is it that people with straight hair say "I'd die to have your curls..." little knowing how 'high maintenance' natural curls are...
They were called Blakies because they were made Blakey. Still are, I think. I used drawing pins, which had the advantage of also being a concealed weapon. I saw a Nolan outside Lewisham Theatre in 1982 and she had big hair and a big coat. I was struggling along with a 6'x4' piece of laminate that I'd lugged all the way from Homebase in Downham and she never offered to help me. See, that's what big hair does for you.
oh crap, that hair. that horrible, horrible feathered and blowdried hair. how i hated it. my hs pix were taken and im sitting under one of those haircuts and i look lobotomized.
Isn't that the Lady Di look on the right?
Which one is Donny?
Was this before or after the mullet?
Skyscraper shoes were fab for a shortarse like me!
I think you're very charitable, calling the Mousy Nolan "the blonde one." If she's blonde, then so am I! Funny how there's never a shampoo specific for mousy hair.

I had curly hair too, and I was (and still am) a boy. I looked like an out-of-control Lelandei. My hair is mostly straight, now, though, because I trained it for years by cropping it close with clippers. I also discovered that it was better not to comb or brush it, but just use my fingers instead. Less frizz that way.

I've got a photo somewhere of some of the kids on their last day at my school (though I'd long left by then), and ALL the girls had the same hairstyle. 1981. Hilarious.
Gert - women with straight hair say they want curly hair, women with curly hair say they want straight hair, such is life. Thing is, women with straight hair always assume you have curly hair because you don't bother to do anything with it, or, worse still, that you have a perm.

Richard - oh, I remember the thing of boys sticking drawing pins in the soles of their shoes. Mentioned this to the husband yesterday, actually.

Sounds like you saw Ms Nolan around the time that they were hanging around with Lemmy so maybe she thought offering to help someone carry a bit of laminate wasn't very RAHHK 'N' ROOOOLLL.

First Nations - had that hairdo myself on the yearly school pictures, looking flyaway and slightly greasy. Yekk.

MJ - yeah, Diana did have the hairstyle that about ninety per cent of schoolgirls had sported for the last decade, except she was considered to be dead fashionable (by royal standards anyway, ha ha).

Vicus - the second from the right, of course.

Kaz - a few years before the mullet. I think the mullet must have been a new take on that hairdo with half a tub of hair gel added.

Could never get the hang of walking around on really huge platform shoes. Well, not during school days when you spent a lot of time running for buses and stuff.
She had big blonde hair and a silver fox style fur coat on, don't know if it was fake or not. I can see her now, walking away from me along the Broadway.

I can remember my sister having a perm in the very early 80s. It scared me because I didn't know. She had a Saturday job in Boots at the time and I'd gone in to suprise her because she didn't know I was visiting and I walked straight past her. About the same time I saw a girl I used to fancy from school days, who'd had the same thing done. Scary.
Holyhoses - I'm sure John Frieda does a shampoo for "honey thru caramel thru mocha" tones of hair. Or, if you prefer "gerbil thru hamster thru rat". Anyway, it's light brown, innit? My natural hair colour is ... er ... was ash brown, the most boring hair colour bar none. At least with mousey you can bung some blonde highlights in it without it turning orange.

I only ever use a comb if it's one of those pokey two pronged things, except when I've just washed it. Don't get me started though. I'll talk you through all the hair products I have to use because of the erratic nature of my hair, then you'll all be sorry.

Richard - Sounds like the one with the Farrah Fawcett hairdo in the picture. Dunno which she is. Will have to look on their website, if I can stand the re-jigged version of I'm In The Mood For Dancing that's on there. I know Bernie was on Brookside during the awful, final years, and Coleen was married to Shane Ritchie, I think.
Well...I can sympathise. I thought it was cool to have a Phil Oakey fringe thing going on. It was horrific! I look back on photos and think - 'Why did I do that?' It was really, really stiff because I used a tub of 50p hair gel on it every day. (There's a smutty joke in there somewhere...)

I actually looked so bad..I am ashamed to think of it. I think it kind of grew out via a mullett. I looked like Billy Ray Cyrus.
Betty, you were born a couple of years too soon.

In the mid-late 80s, everybody had a perm. Even me (home-perms, of course) and I already have curly hair. "Ash blonde" too, though I've never dyed it, due to a point-blank refusal to pay more than £20 to any hairdresser.

But in the mid-80s you also had to have a straight fringe with your perm. Now fringes don't happen when you've got curls, so I used to crimp mine. Frizzy mousey hair and a crimped fringe - lovely.
Molly - I've probably caused as much damage as cheap commercial airflights to the ozone layer with my use of hair products. Well, if I don't use any hair products, mine goes all limp (I'm sure there's a smutty joke in there somewhere).

Spinsterella - Never used crimpers on my hair but I went through a phase of drying my hair in little plaits so that it looked crimped. I had an overgrown fringe and was told I looked like a sheep.
Loved this post. I have uncontrollable hair, always have had. Was constantly told off at school. Gave up hairdressers in my teens, couldn’t stand the humiliation. It’s only since reaching my 40s that I have learned to live with it and stopped spending vast amounts on anti-frizzzz crap. In fact the old bed-head look is in (in my book) – I now love it! (do I sound convincing?)
Ziggi - hairdressers seem to refuse to acknowledge the existence of curly hair. Well, in Britain they do. Go to southern Europe and you see loads of women with - shock - naturally curly hair. Perhaps British hairdressers ought to have an apprenticeship in different parts of the world so they realise that not everyone has flat, tidy, English hair.

Sorry. All my grudges are rising up to the surface now.
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