I wanted to kick off this blog with a very personal story which still affects me. If you fear losing your hair, read on and let your fear turn to... well, 'long-term depression' is about the most appropriate phrase I can think of. If you don’t fear losing your hair, read on and revel in the pure joy of other people’s misfortune...
My 19th birthday was one of the worst days of my life. Against all advice, I'd barraged my triple-thick mop with a number of bottles of permanent dye in the preceding week, and had woken up that fateful morning with hairs on my pillow. These weren't merely broken hairs – they had the little root-tips on them. I instantly went into severe shock. I washed my hair in the sink – the sink was full of hair. I washed it in the bath – the bath was full of hair. What in the grave of Dracula’s half-brother was I gonna do?
My immediate solution was to spray an entire can of hairspray onto my head and go out with something feeling vaguely like an eight-month-old slice of bread atop my now rather sensitive scalp – my thinking being that if any more hair fell out, it at least couldn’t fall off, so I'd be sure to return home with the same amount of hair I’d set out with. And I did. But then of course I had to wash the hairspray out, say goodbye to another collection of strands, and on the nightmare went.
Over time, my hair-loss did stem to a less frightening level. In fact, it was nearly another ten years before I started to get mild sunburn on the top of my head in mid summer, and I was 32 before I felt compelled to address the problem. I wasn't bald – just very conscious I was approaching that territory, and desperate to deal with the matter before the dreaded moment arrived. This is where the real story starts. I'm dressing this up a little for the sake of entertainment, but if you want to know how it feels to have a 'hair replacement', this, I believe, gives a very fair picture...
It all begins with an advert. Glossy, slick... you're impressed by the guy in the picture. He has totally natural, real-looking hair and is fending off a number of women. He's confident, tanned, and two of the girls are playing tug of war with his fringe. But nothing is dislodged. They have more chance of pulling his head off than removing his hair. In fact, if his flowing mane was a bit longer he could probably lean out of a helicopter and use it to carry out a mountain rescue. The only wig that guy's wearing is the one on his chest, and that may actually be a mohair vest – you're not sure.
So you go to the 'clinic' and they show you a publicity video of a man being attacked by gorillas in a safari park. He shouldn't really have opened the estate hatch, but hey, he's got great hair – not a great brain. And his hair is indeed great. The gorillas pull it, bite it, hit it with rocks – one even gets in the car and drives over it, and still it looks like a million dollars. In Part Two of the presentation, they lash up the same guy to a tractor – by his hair, obviously. A grinning farmer then proceeds to drag him down a country lane. His trousers have left him somewhere up by the cattle grid and his backside's ripped to shreds, but his hair's still doing the business.
So, you give the consultant a couple of grand for what you're assured will be a state-of-the-art hair replacement process. Then, a month or so later, they sit you in a dentist's chair, and produce a wig. "Hang on," you say, "that's a wig. That's not gonna take the full tractive effort of a Massey Ferguson and stand half an hour with five amphetamine-crazed gorillas!"...
"That's right Sir..." comes the reply, "... if you assume we're not going to glue it to your head – which we are. And our glue is capable of holding a parachute to a spacecraft, so don't bother your tiny mind about it. All is under control"...
"But I could have bought a wig and glued it to my own head."
"No need Sir, we're doing it for you."
"But I could have re-roofed a small church for the price you've charged me!"...
"Were you planning to re-roof a small church Sir?"...
It does of course dawn on you at this point that you've made quite a serious mistake. You've paid money up front, which it's damn certain you ain't getting back, and you're now sitting there with what could easily be mistaken for a carpet sample – glued and painfully clamped to your head.
PENSIONERS' PUBES DYED GINGER
In the course of the first month you discover, at least, that the company's claims of this being real human hair are true. However, the image you had of a model from a shampoo ad selflessly giving up their flowing locks are pretty soon dashed.
After approximately 25 days I realised that my glued-on rug was in fact made from pubic hair*. Pensioners' pubic hair*. That is, pubic hair harvested from several different pensioners, then dyed ginger with permanent dye, and then, on top of that, dyed regular brown with temporary dye*. If you don't keep going back to the 'clinic' every month and having your rug re-dyed with 'special colour' (special in that it's green), it goes ginger, and it stays ginger. Your head hurts, the incessant itching drives you half mad, and the whole situation is unhygienic in the extreme. Oh, and the wig loses its hair about twenty times quicker than you did.
Clearly, what you thought you were getting was a million miles away from what you actually got, but proving that the hair replacement 'clinic' did anything legally wrong is difficult. It boasted real human hair which a gorilla, a tractor, or even a drunken dominatrix on heat could not remove. And that's essentially what you have. Pensioners' pubes are human hair, and Nitronis Industrial-'Bugger Me'-Strength glue will resist tractive forces of 95,000 lb. You failed to see the reality of this service for one reason: you didn't ask the question: "When you say 'state-of-the-art technique', do you mean you're going to make a wig out of pensioners' pubic hair and stick it to my head with industrial glue?" How silly of you, not to ask such an obvious question. How silly, indeed, of me.
* In my opinion. Glue may not be industrial, or made by Nitronis, which is a fictional company, cited to protect the innocent, guilty and everyone in between. I now have the carpet sample preserved in all its ginger glory, as a reminder never, ever, to trust anyone again.