I escaped from the cleaning to go and get my hair cut. I am currently growing it, in a lets-see-where-this-goes experimental sort of way. This started because it was even shaggier than usual when I went in for my six weekly cut, either because it had grown fast or because the six weeks had slipped to seven for some reason I can't remember but probably to do with holidays, in which case it was almost certainly my hairdresser's holiday and not mine. She screamed faintly at how much it had grown, and I suggested on a whim that we try doing something with the extra length instead of taking it back to the crop it had been in for the past few years.
I have never had much success telling hairdressers what sort of haircut I would like, because my hair is so insistent on doing its own thing. The Rachel, the power bob, swishy hair as favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, any kind of style involving straight hair, I could forget them all. There was no point in looking at the magazines of hairstyles in salons that had them, since the answer to Could I have that? would always be No. My hair, naturally curly and very thick, did not adapt itself to The Rachel, and I didn't help matters by wanting a wash and go cut because first of all I was busy leaving the house at six in the morning to go to work, and then I was busy in the garden and took up wearing hats whenever it was cold or the sun came out, which was most of the time except for a few weeks around March and October, and either way I wasn't willing to spend any time with a hair dryer or straighteners. And I hated the feeling of product in my hair. And if I had spent half an hour subduing it into something more groomed it would have sprung back into the natural curl at the first drop of rain.
Sometimes when I was younger I would get it down as far as my shoulders. It would alternate between looking quite attractive in an exotic way and wildly frizzy, until the split ends defeated me and I had it cut short again. Short was better for sailing because then it couldn't blow across my face. Many hairdressers I tried over the years had no idea what to do with it either way, and I tried everywhere from a salon in Albemarle Street to a little local village parlour where at least parking was free. An assistant at the latter, who was covering for her boss who more or less knew how to cut it but was ill, was so panic stricken by the bulk of it that she practically tonsured me, but I wouldn't say the Albemarle Street chap did a particularly good job.
I grew it one time after seeing a load of cyclists come into a cafe on a Netherlands sailing holiday, and deciding that having it short made me look like a Dutch housewife. The last time I had it chopped off was because as it went greyer I was afraid that it made me look not so much like pre-Raphaelite angel as Gandalf. Persuading stylists that I wanted it really short was always an uphill task. I would cite Judi Dench and Emma Watson in her pixie crop phase as models, and the hairdresser would mutter about styling products. Apparently Judi Dench does not just wash her hair in the shower, let it dry while she eats her breakfast, and voila, her hair will look like it does in photoshoots.
My present hairdresser is supremely talented at dealing with it. She is half Italian and has curly hair herself, which helps, and she finds out and remembers how much time and effort her clients are planning to put into their hair styles and cuts accordingly. One of her predecessors at the salon where she used to work before starting her own business used to cut it quite nicely, before spending ten minutes straightening my fringe with tongs. It looked jolly good and I could have stepped straight on to either front bench of the House of Commons with hair like that, except that I did not possess any straightening irons and did not propose to buy them or spend ten minutes in the morning messing with my fringe, not to mention the rain and the hats.
So we will see where we get to with the new, longer and growing by the day hair. The thing that encouraged me to persist was discovering how curly it still was despite being so grey. That and the fact that my hairdresser persuaded me to spend the outrageous sum of fifteen pounds on a tube of Curl Creator. She promised that it would last for ages as I only needed to use a pea sized blob after washing it, and that it would not make my hair feel sticky, and as I trust her judgement I agreed to give it a try. She says that the secret of persuading the hair to form curls instead of sticking out in a huge frizzy cloud is to thin when cutting. In the last couple of years young people have been colouring their hair grey, and apparently curls are now back in fashion along with the whole cheesecloth smock and flares Seventies revival, so my natural silver equivalent of a bubble perm could be bang on trend. If it doesn't work we can always chop it off and go back to the Dutch housewife, sub Dame Judi look.