I first hit the bottle about ten years ago because the grey happened so quickly and I wasn’t ready. Actually, there is no such thing as grey, there is just white. For a while you colour it aubergine and look funky with purple streaks which go pink as the colour fades, then you use the Clairol “Loving Care” non-permanent tint, persuaded by the photo of the brunette with post-coital eyes. It is a bore because you have to re-do it every other week and it makes an unholy mess of the bathroom and towels. So you graduate to Clairol “Nice ‘n Easy” which isn’t nice or particularly easy. It stinks of ammonia and bleach however much they try to mask it with fragrance. When the roots grow out you have to keep touching up so as to hide the evidence. You read about all the nasty chemicals in hairdye (particularly brown ones) that might give you cancer and Alzheimer’s but you carry on because you don’t want to look like Cruella deVille or Ann Widdecombe with the white streak down the middle, before she went blonde. You don’t want to go blonde. You remember the early days of your courtship with Mr. Signs when a friend of his described you as a sultry, Levantine beauty (you mention this once in a while just so everyone knows that this is what you really are or, at least, were). And then you think, sod it.
I’m giving it up, doing cold turkey, going on the wagon. I don’t know how I’ll look until I’ve done it and everything grows out, and it wouldn’t be true to say I don’t care about how I look. I may be grunge but I can still be sharp. I have been inspired by a couple of women who are bottle-free natural and look fabulous. One of them, a poet who leads the monthly workshop sessions I attend, recently gave a reading after which person after person came up to compliment her – not for her poetry but for her hair which is a combination of snow-white and raven-black. Understandably (being a poet with clout) she was a bit pissed off about this, but still. The other woman is the owner of an extraordinary sculpture garden and is completely white-haired and – I can’t think of any other phrase – drop-dead gorgeous and stylish. It has to be said that there wasn’t a hint of grunge about her, but sharp’s the word and I’m up for it. My “greydar” is already identifying all the women who should and could be throwing off the shackles. I might start a revolution.