One of the more disconcerting phrases I have learned from Eldest and Middle Daughters in recent years is “Mum Hair”. I wasn’t particularly happy when I first heard it because it had a worryingly disparaging air to it, but I brushed it aside as being of no relevance to me whatsoever.
If nothing else, Mum Hair implied letting hair just do its own thing in its own greying way, and I had after all always prided myself on my serious attitude to hair, hair trends and haircuts. I have always been pretty adventurous with my hair and a devotee of good haircuts, and years ago had determined that middle age was defined more by sticking rigidly to the same hairstyle for decades than by pretty much anything else.
But my determination to avoid grey nothingness has generally not extended beyond the business of securing a great hairdresser. Whatever style I may decide upon is invariably based on some variant of Wash n’Go. I love styles which require absolutely no maintenance whatsoever, including blow-drying, brushing or combing.
My poor hairdresser is rarely permitted to style my hair after a cut, because I always need the reassurance of seeing how it is likely to look after I’ve washed it and done precisely nothing to it. Given my demands for quirky, different and original styles, it’s a miracle he’s still prepared to tackle my barnet after almost two decades of my purist demands.
Despite my addiction to good haircuts, there have however been extended periods when I went through a just-let-it-grow phase. One was a decade or so ago. One was this last six months, when my main man had to leave his usual place of business and circumstances conspired to make it difficult to set up an appointment.
In a funny way, I didn’t mind at all. The summer holidays came and went, and my hair just got a bit longer. I became busy with the September show and my book publication, and my hair got even longer. I was immersed in setting up happy household routines and introducing order to my life, and much longer hair just didn’t seem to matter.
I took the opportunity to experiment with wild curling aids in a rare few moments of positive hair maintenance, and once or twice yanked it all back into a rather unflattering ponytail. For a couple of hours after washing it generally looked fine.
And there was a teeny bit of me that thought it might be nice to escape Mum Hair for a while. Because Mum Hair, it transpires, is nothing more than the shorter type of haircut that most middle-aged women end up with once they abandon the high maintenance demands of the sort of long hair worthy of a L’Oréal advert. Because whilst we may Be Worth It, the hassle of long hair beyond a certain point in life most certainly is not.
And so in the couple of hours during the week my hair looked okay-ish, I delusionally dreamed of growing flowing shiny locks. Until the reality check. In the absence of effort, time and care, 99% of the time my hair flattened nicely and firmly against my skull at the points where I needed maximum volume, and bushed out uncontrollably at the points where it needed to frame my features.
And so I abandoned the youthful dream, and this week asked for a retro-metro-sixties sort of cut.
No doubt it’s firmly requalified as Mum Hair (if it ever left that state of grace, which is unlikely) but just as I had reconciled myself to the worst, Middle Daughter successfully topped the insult. She thought it reminiscent of Evelyn’s hair in Play Misty For Me.
Now that’s a real insult.