Tuesday, 1 February 2011


I've had my hair cut. It had got quite long. And tangled. A general mess really.

It is true what they say: that if you leave your hair unwashed then it will self clean. It does, sort of. Just has a vague human smell about it rather than the lingering perfume of shampoo.

When we first set foot here, two and a half years ago, we were devoid of all facilities apart from a cold water tap. So we had to boil kettles for hot water. I did that with my camping twin tub washing machine. About five kettles it took to get enough hot water in the washer drum to do our undies. Fortunately it was Summer, so we were in minimal clothing anyway. Anyway, to wash my hair was not do-able, particularly because it needed washing every couple of days. Other things became more urgent, and messing about with coiffured hair became lost at the bottom of a long list of other things needing my attention.

And so my tresses grew. Into a bun they went. Out of the way.

Once or twice I came upon my dressmaking scissors so managed to give it a self-do trim. That was all. In two and a half years it was probably washed no more than a half a dozen times. Sort of matched my flannel, soap, and bowl of hot water jobbies on myself each morning, winter time included. Even this morning I stood in my birthday suit and shivered my way through a very fast ablutionary experience. The surprising thing is, though, that it is quite invigorating, and makes me feel joyously alive. Well perhaps it doesn't. But I have to stay positive about things otherwise one can get quite moany. And one of the things we don't do here is endlessly moan about the lack of facilities. Funnily enough, there are certain people who think we are mad because of our attitude about living here. But as I said to my daughter, being slightly mad is what keeps us sane!

Hair: so it came into my mind the other day that perhaps it was time to uptake some general make-over in the form of a hair cut. I fancied having it short, an urchin cut I thought, maybe with some spikiness poking up here and there, and maybe a bit of colourfulness added by way of an occasional streak. Thought it would quite suit my emergence as an experienced keeper of sheep, pigs, chickens and other live beings including rats and sundry other taggers-on, who seem to think that they should also take shelter with us under our roof.

For years I have had a secret lust. It comes to the fore sometimes but I push it down again. The lust? For a pair of Doc Martin's. You know, those booty-type shoes which are like clod-hoppers upon one's feet. Red Doc Martin boots. Or Doc Martin's Sarah Jane shoes, which are flatties done up with a buckle and not dainty at all.

And so, a vision of myself appeared in my mind just before Christmas. Spikey hair and Doc Martins. I am marching my way with speed through my sixties. Am I, do you think, having some sort of melt down? A very late mid-life crisis?

However: sitting in the hairdressers, trying to explain in my minimal French to a lovely young French lady, what my new hairstyle should be, and midway through the English to French translation in my head which is always a rather slow loop at the best of times, I bottled out. Took a step back.

And so I had it cut at chin length and kept it all one length. It seems that it is not quite the right time for me to redesign myself. Therefore I must file away my Doc Martin lustings for the moment. Perhaps I am not old enough yet. Perhaps I need to be at least ninety before I get those red boots. Should go well with my zimmer frame!

So now I have the problem of having to regularly wash my hair. Uno problemo. Have run out of my English shampoo. No probs, just buy some from the supermarket when I next go shopping. Which I did today. Zooming around with my trolley, near to lunch time closing, only fifteen minutes to go, must get a move on, look at my shopping list, all things crossed off except one: shampoo. Oh that shouldn't take long. Hah! This is France. Why, then, do I even now feel surprised when I come across things I want to purchase and need info on, and find that that info is written in French. How long do you have to live in a foreign  country before you stop being surprised at seeing things written in that country's language!

I did manage to get shampoo, and did put back the body lotion which was almost going to find itself washing my hair.

And another day is nearly done! My bun is gone and my Doc Martin fantasy has been filed away for the moment. So, too, has my self-image of having spikey hair. Probably wouldn't have known how to gel it anyway!

......remaining stoically inclined towards mad dottiness, but not at this exact moment in time, I bid you farewell for the moment.


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Wat no photo!!! Come on we want to take a look at this new hair cut :)))) Diane

Anonymous said...

Hello Vera,
Your post really made me smile. Partly because I had my hair cut last week, after a gap of a few months. When I was working I had it done every few weeks. I usually take a picture with me to help the hairdresser, my picture used to be of Kate Moss, but this time was of Delia Smith, so I must be getting old!!
You are sure to find your Doc Martin boots soon, to WOW them at choir rehearsal!! I have a bright pink pair bought in Belgium, but am now lusting for a gold or silver pair.
You are not dotty, it's just that the others haven't caught you up yet.

Fickle Cattle said...

I wonder how hair self-cleans? I cannot imagine never having the time to shampoo my hair myself, but I am an urban rat.


John Gray said...

make sure you are not on the couch tonight

Vera said...

Will do, John. It was not very comfy! And I missed doing 'spoons'! X

DUTA said...

Congrats on your new haircut! Hope you enjoy it.
By the way, no less important than washing the hair is massaging the scalp; it has a beneficial effect on the whole body.

"...being slightly mad is what keeps us sane" - true, and it reminds me of similar wee wisdom: "there's reason in madness".

Vera said...

Hi Duta: Methinks I will file away your helpful advice about scalp massage until I get a proper bathroom. A bit cold here at the moment to linger longer than five minutes at the total ablutions! Doesn't give much time for doing the scalp!

Jean said...

I agree with Duta, the scalp massage you get from the shampooer at the hairdressers is bliss, unless of course, you get the girl whose previous job was as a cement mixer, as I did once.
My current style is with purple streaks. I admired the full purple job worn by the colourist but she said I would suit a more toned down version. (Implication received and understood!)
Mad is good. Much better than giving in to sanity and giving up.

Vera said...

Hello Jean: I have on occasions had some difficult experiences as well with those heavy handed hairdressers, but the French lady was very soft and gentle, and I felt very pampered. But purple streaks! Oh well done you! I am still dark brown with some tiny silver threads sprinkled here and there.
I agree about sanity making encouraging us to give up. Much better to be a bit on the eccentric and mad side!

Ken Devine said...

That was so funny, Vera. I swear they should make a TV series about your life in France and everything you are up to as well as how you perceive it all.

Vera said...

Thanks Ken. Glad you had a chuckle. Love it when I can do that for people, but methinks a celebrity TV person is probably going to have to wait for another lifetime!

the fly in the web said...

At least they didn't dye it red....

Vera said...

True, FW, they didn't! But there was someone sitting beside me in the hairdressers who was going a lovely shade of burgundy!

Roz said...

Oh, I want to see a picture of the haircut too! And what is it about the French and the colour red in their hair? scary!!
I can vouch for the comfyness of doc martin boots - we used to get them issued to us as Paramedics, until they decided they were too expensive and so provided us with a cheapo (and not so good) version of them. Go on!! treat yourself - you deserve it :0) xx

Vera said...

Roz, the French women do seem to like colouring their hair, which makes them look older I think.
And thankyou for giving me permission to go treat myself! My work is going well at the moment, so perhaps I will! But I would have to purchase them over the Internet, and need to know if they fit a wide-ish foot. They look like they do. Oh I do so fancy a pair of their Sarah Janes. And those red lace up boots! Yummy yums!!

Land of shimp said...

Oh Vera, you are far braver than I am. No facilities? No me. That's the way that shakes out. Even though I'm allegedly from pioneer stock, evidently the ensuing centuries have softened up that genetic strain to the point that my idea of roughing it involves not having exfoliating body wash at my disposal.

I'm a weenie. You clearly are not but I can tell you something that might help: Doc Martins are not comfortable. No kidding. No arch support, rather inflexible. I owned a pair of the lace-up ones that come up almost to the knee. I looked terrifying, I'm sure. An impression probably helped by the fact that my punk expression was fueled by how uncomfortable I was.

Land's End makes some good stomping boots, when you're ready to go spiky and stompy all at once. In the meantime, I'm glad you found shampoo!

Vera said...

LoS: I wouldn't have ever thought I could have managed without facilities, etc. But it is surprising what one can pull out of one's self when an opportunity to change one's life comes up.
And thanks for the info about Docs. I know they will take a while to 'break in', having remembered my shoes from my long ago RAF days, which would have been similar to the Doc lace-ups. But its the width I am not so sure about. They look wide, but photos can be deceiving. But thanks for the info, and also thanks for the Lands End suggestion. Will put it on my 'browsing on the Internet' list.

Wylye Girl said...

Having seen the abominations that passed for haircuts in our part of La Belle France, I always waited until I had a trip back to the UK. In our area it was red or orange, both very harsh, neither very flattering. I love this idea of hair self-cleaning but mine is dead straight and I could never go through the lank, greasy stage without looking like a needed a good wash!

John Gray said...

just checking in on you vera..... no posts for a while?

Vera said...

WG: Sorry about the long gap in responding. My hair is the same as yours, but was long enough to put up in a bun so it was out of the way for the weeks when it looked, quite frankly, a mess!

John: Thanks for the chivvy-up. Your message got me moving again. x