CHOP!

That’s it! I can’t take it anymore! I’m getting my hair all chopped off again! I just can’t get through the growing-it-out stage! Look! I’m even using exclamation marks everywhere!!!! (my personal rule of thumb when writing: NEVER use more than one exclamation mark per 20 sentences.) AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!

I just came across this photo.

Yes, it’s blurry, which helps me look good, but even if it was in focus I still look a lot better than I do with this hair-helmet I’ve been wearing for over five months now. I can’t take it anymore. I’m sure this was what tipped me over the edge recently when I had a spell of feeling thoroughly depressed. So tomorrow morning I’m phoning Vincent  at “Le Salon” and booking an appointment with him and his shears. Don’t try to stop me.

(NB: I was about to write “I just can’t hack it” but realised this would have been a cringey pun. So I have spared you of such pain.)

Should I go for the chop? (again)?

While searching for photos of me breastfeeding, I  just stumbled across this photo taken last summer.

This comes at a moment when my growing-out hair is so painfully ugly and ridiculous that I have taken to wearing a scarf on my head. Which technically means I am wearing a “headscarf”. The other evening while out seeing a show a friend remarked I look like Lara from Doctor Zhivago. Julie Christie that is. I just googled “Lara Doctor Zhivago” but all the photos of her show her wearing a chapka. So I dunno what my friend was on about. I wish I DID look like Julie Christie. Alas, all we have in common is some blondness, blue eyes and a clear vertical frown line between our eyebrows.

I in fact look more like Kurt Cobain on a bad day. A day following 550 consecutive sleep-interrupted-by-baby nights, which is what I have just tallied up. But without the fun and glamour and rock’n’rollishness of playing concerts, taking drugs and partying non-stop. Oh well. Never mind. She’ll sleep one day. Look at Tommy – he started sleeping through the night when he was 22 months old and now he is a World Champion Sleeper.

But in my exhausted state I am seriously side-tracking. Dribbling even. All this is just to say, should I give up growing my hair out and go for the chop? Or should I see this thing out? With the aid of my headscarf of course. I’m going to Paris in two days time goddammit – I can’t go wearing a headscarf! Or can I? Maybe I will start a new super chic-hippy trend. Hmmm. It’s worth a try. And if I don’t pull it off I can always hitch up with some Ukrainian musicians in the metro and help them busk. Maybe my Kurt look will even come in useful…

WOOAAARRRGH! GIVE ME MY HEADSCAAAAARRRF!

Onion head

Having gone for the chop in March and then re-chopped in May, July, and September, I have decided that I am bored with my short hair. So, off I embark on a long, embarrasing journey of hair-growing. This will of course mean going through various stages of very dodgy haircuts,

At the moment I resemble an onion.  Or a Beatle. The Paul McCartney type.


L’Homme thinks I look more like a mushroom.

If I blow dry my hair I look like Princess Diana.

I would rather look like an onion or a mushroom than Princess Diana.

Soon my hair will grow a few inches and I will look like Purdey.

(now, she really does look like a mushroom).

And then I’ll be more of a George Harrison Beatle.

And then a Stone. A Rolling One.

But at the moment it is definitely an onion look. When I said this to a couple of my friends the other day, the male one of the two cracked up. I thought it was because I had made an absolutely spot-on judgement concerning my haircut and the vegetable it is best at imitating, but no. It turns out that in French “onion” means “vagina”. It took me a few minutes to understand why. I ran through a few theories in my head. Do French fannies smell of onions? Are onions used for curing venereal diseases? Do most French men cry when they have sex?  (Not the ones I’ve met … maybe I’m doing something wrong. Or right). Is it to do with peeling bits back? Or off? OW. I frowned at my friend questioningly. He grinned and mimed chopping an onion in half and then outlined the pointy-at-both-ends curvy oval form of the layers. Oh. I see. So we could also say that “almond” or “eye” or “certain Christmas decorations” are also nicknames for vagina. In any case, with this context in mind, he finds it very funny that I think I look like an onion.

Coincidentally, that same evening I read Chapter 3 (“I Don’t Know What To Call My Breasts!”) of Caitlin Moran’s new book “How To Be A Woman”. Sister One sent me the book for my birthday and when I read the title I thought “right, so she thinks I’m STILL not a woman, I’m STILL a hardcore tomboy, despite going through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, a reputation for wearing miniskirts too short to be seen with the naked eye, inventing my own 2-second t-shirt folding technique and wearing rubber gloves on a daily basis.” But when I started reading it I realised that Caitlin Moran is also a hardcore tomboy and that in fact, the term Hardcore Tomboy roughly translates as Strident Feminist. Caitlin may well throw this theory to the ground and mud-wrestle it until it croaks its final splutter, but I think I might have a thing going here – one I need to develop further when I don’t have aubergines burning in the wok. Anyway, Chapter 3 talks about what we call our bits. Our breasts and vaginas. Or rather, what a strange range of words are used by various men, women and wierdos to refer to their bits. Caitlin covers most of them, from Flower to Hole to Minge to La-la to Tinkle to Bush to Honeypot to Flaps to Cunt to Newport Pagnell Service Station (erm, that last one isn’t in her book). It is fascinating, at least to those of us even vaguely interested in fanny etymology. And of course, here in France there is a whole new range of names. “La Chatte”, for a female cat, is the equivalent of our rather soft, yet stale, porn-film-generated ‘pussy’, and in French is quite vulgar, or so L’Homme tells me. “Foufoune” sounds like fanny and is the word children use to refer to their front bottom. So do I actually, probably because I have learnt a lot of my French vocabulary along with my kids. I quite like “touffe” – although it sounds like toffee, NOT a good thing to put down your pants. But “onion”?! I simply cannot imagine ANY Frenchwoman saying “I must get my onion looked at by my gynaecologist”, or “I shouldn’t have waxed my onion just before going swimming”. Oh, of course – the women don’t use this word at all – it’s the men who do.

In this context, my unfortunate hairstyle, which I have taken to referring to as “onion head” or “tête d’oignon”, may well, to French ears, sound like a sexual technique. This is not what I want to imply. I simply think I look like a common or garden onion. Not a look to boast about, I know, but it’s quite a liberating feeling to go out into the big wide world looking slightly ridiculous and not being able to do anything about it. You just accept it and get on with things. And a lot less lorry drivers ogle at you. Or at your onion.

(Footnote : the French can’t believe we use the word “Fanny” to refer to their “foufoune”. There are about  a thousand new little baby Fannys born each year in France.)

Short Cut

Léonie is 3 and a half months old. And on cue, just like when Tommy was 3 and a half months old, my hair has started to fall out. Everyone loses around 20 hairs a day. When you get pregnant, you no longer lose any hairs whatsoever, which is why pregnant women are renowned for having such thick, luscious hair. But once you’ve given birth and the hormones start to plummet, your scalp decides not only to go back to the shed-20-hairs-a-day régime, but also to let go of all the hairs you would have shed over the past year. That’s 9 months of pregnany + 3 months of baby = 12 months of Pantene-advert hair. So when the hair hits the fan: 365 days x 20 hairs = 7300 hairs to shed. It’s a lot. It’s quite scary. Especially when it all happens so fast. When I started shedding my pregnancy hair following the birth of Tommy I was performing at the Paris Odéon, playing the young virgin roles in three Molière plays. I had huge breasts which would leak milk onstage through my white dress and sometimes even jet-squirt my fellow actors. I also had streams of long hair trailing behind me. I found them everywhere – on the floor, in my book, all over poor Tommy, in my salad, I couldn’t stand it. I was too cowardly to go the whole hog so I got my hair cut into a halfway house bob, which didn’t really solve matters, but at least the hairs I found in my lettuce weren’t so long. I lazily let my hair grow back, got pregnant again two and a half years later, and here I am again at the hair-exodus stage. So yesterday I went to see my lovely French hairdresser Vincent in his salon (Le Salon it’s called) and asked him to crop it short short short. A pixie cut please. Many hairdressers would balk at the idea of chopping off long blonde hair of below bra strap dimensions. Vincent merely said I would look fantastic with REALLY short hair but that I had to be sure of my decision as there would be no going back. I wasn’t sure. I really wasn’t. I hesitated. I looked at my Cinderella locks in the gigantic mirror. I asked him how many years worth of hair-growing it would take to have hair that length again. Four, he replied. I was about to back down and ask him to just trim up the ends before scuttling home again, but basic instinct kicked in and I looked him in the eye. “Chop it off” I said. Or rather “Coupe-les” (in French hair is plural : les cheveux, as in hairs … to be honest it makes more sense once you manage to stop thinking about what we term ‘hairs’ as in leg-carpets and the short-and-curlies). “Tu es sure?” he asked.  Oh yes baby, I was all of a sudden oh so sure. Vincent held my hair back in a ponytail, picked up his scissors and CUT. There was my long ponytail in someone else’s hands, looking at me from a metre away. I had a jaggedy bob. I looked like a dishevelled Makepeace. “Keep cutting” I said. And so he did. Shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter. And I just sat there and grinned throughout the process as my face came into sharp focus after years of being curtained. I have cheekbones! I have huge eyes! I have a long neck! Tommy stood watching and asked if he could also get his hair cut just like Mummy’s. One of the girls had fifteen minutes free so she shampooed his scruffy hair, sat him down and snipped away. L’Homme came back, pushing a sleeping Léonie in her buggy. He peered through the salon window and didn’t recognise me. Vincent pointed down at me and L’Homme’s eyes popped out of his head. He didn’t really think I was going to go for the big chop. Does he like it? I wondered. Or does he hate it? Will he sit across the table from me looking disappointed for the next 6 months? Will we ever have sex again? He likes it. He loves it. Everyone loves it. As Sister One says, I look “gamine”. As Doctor Power says, “chic”. And her husband Doc Gandamou “comme une top model” (I fear he is going a little over the top seeing as I am a) short, b) 38 and c) look like Tom Sawyer). Tomboy. “Garçon manqué”. I feel great.

The only people who don’t like my short hair are, as predicted, my two dads. Step and sperm. Ooh, they won’t like that. Nature and nurture. They won’t like that either. Well, my father who got my mother pregnant (Dad Genes) and my father who taught me how to ride a bike (Papa Le Bike). Neither of them can understand my choice. Total madness in their opinion. In reply to the photos I sent them, Dad Genes sent me an email just saying “Why?”. Even when I told him why, I could hear in his voice that he was thinking “poor girl, clearly suffering from hormonal disruption and/or mad cow disease”. And Papa Le Bike hasn’t responded at all. I assume he has either keeled over and died from shock or has just simply disowned me and is busy with his lawyer cutting me out of his will. It was only to be expected. Daddies love their daughters to have long hair. Hey Dads! It grows back! It will grow back thicker and more luxurious! I can still be Cinderella/Rapunzel/Sleeping Beauty if you want me to! But in the meantime I am keeping my hair pixie short for a while (maybe a very long while) and enjoying not having to brush it, dry it, tie it back, tuck it behing my ears, despair as the front bits get lank and greasy just two days after a shampoo, pull strands out of the apple crumble, unfold Léonie’s tight little hands as she grabs on and rips clumps out while feeding, de-hair my hairbrush … hell, I don’t even NEED a hairbrush.