Her Hair is Taking Her Strength

As a twelve year old I was often tired and after a visit to the doctor the prognosis was ’her hair is taking her strength’
Seriously !  Where on earth was that plucked from.
I had long brown waist length hair and the last thing I wanted was it lying on the hairdressers floor, rather than on my back.
Mum booked the appointment and I was to be accompanied to Sheila’s Salon the same building that once housed, what appeared to me, as Hesketh’s Hell the dentist’s torture chamber and once again I would be lead to this by my mum.
As I was growing up I persuaded mum that I would go alone and took the long way around whilst I hatched my plan.
At the salon I was cloaked in a pink floral gown and lead to my fate.
Mavis hovered over me, a fine mist spraying my hair from her left hand and the scissors snipping into the air from her right.  She then plucked the comb and dug its teeth into my scalp and dragged it slowly down, only stopping slightly to follow the contour of my skull and to run the points along the nape of my neck.
‘So … all off then …’, she clicked the scissors in the air as I viewed her hook like face glaring at me in the mirror.
‘No, just the ends off … an inch to tidy it up a bit …’   I’d heard people say that when I was in there with mum.
‘Oh’,  she looked surprised and disappointed.
She began pumping at a pedal and my face rose up in the mirror, she was disappearing behind me, then the scissors and the pointy face appeared once more to my right … ‘are you sure?’
‘Yes … just an inch,’ … I said firmly.  I relaxed my shoulders and had a private smile.
Soon I was out of the chair, paid and skipping down Sellar’s Lane.
‘I’ve paid ALL that money for THAT !’  Mum’s high pitched voice and hands on her hips betrayed she wasn’t at all happy with the result.
‘I’ll get my coat  … who did it … I’ll take you back’.
I owned up to the deed and sneering Mavis was more than happy to tie my hair into a pony tail and slice it off.  She held up the specimen like some demon rat catcher having just killed Rattus rattus and saved the stricken householder.
I spent the first few weeks of the summer holidays wearing a navy blue knitted helmet that fastened under my chin.  Admittedly it was rather warm but the short boys hair style needed to grow, hidden away from prying eyes.
Later in the holidays Freda agreed to swap her brown false pony tail from Woolworth’s, for two tennis balls, quite a good bargain I thought.
The next day Lynn and I caught the bus to her Grandma’s in Pilsley and although we went up stairs on the bus, we avoided the seat next to the stairwell just in case John was the conductor.  He was prone to pulling a pony tail.
I’d made an excellent job of pulling the hair I had into a small one inch pony tail and with Freda’s hair piece, loads of grips and a thick ribbon I now had my hair back.  It was the same colour … , no one would know.
As a twelve year old there’s a juggle in puberty, in being grown up and a child, not always recognised by oneself.  So as we alighted from the bus and having survived not seeing John, we ran off down the road giggling.  An elderly man was shouting at us
‘Duck … Duck … here … is this yours?’
We eventually stopped and ran back.
He was flicking his walking stick at the lamp post, the rubber tip bouncing off the metal plate.
‘Here, this thing’
As we came closer he flicked a brown matted animal like thing, covered in dust and leaves.
I felt my stub of hair.
© Jane Calvert 07.01.2016
I read this to my walking partner Ian and the following week he presented me with this …

Ode to Jane’s hair

I know a young lady called Jane,
Who had a beautiful chestnut brown mane.
It blew in the wind, all silky and sleek,
all heads were turned as she walked down the street.

But all was not well, as this story will tell,
a sad but true tale, of a glory that fell.
‘Jane, your energy is failing’, said mother to daughter.
‘We’ll go to the doctor’s, to see what’s ailing’.

The doctor, all mean and quite vile,
said, ‘mmm, ‘let’s examine, this might take a while’.
He took hold of Jane’s hair and pulled it in strands,
and then let it flow through his bony, white hands.
‘Yes! that’s it, I know,
This hair, it has to go’.
‘Oh’, said mum, a little glum,
‘If that’s what you think, it will be done’.

So off to the salon, Jane duly went.
‘Just an inch off please, tidy it up’, and all the money was spent.
Back home the air was tense,
said mother, ‘look, your hair is still there,
but where are my shillings and pence?’
‘This time young lady, you’re going with me,
no more of this nonsense am I going to see’.

Back in the salon, Mavis was there,
fixing poor Jane with a smirk and a stare.
‘What does madam require this time?’ she said.
Jane glared up at her, wishing her dead.
‘Don’t ask her’, mother exclaimed, ‘she’ll only make trouble,
just take off her hair, and work at the double’.

The scissors, all gleaming and bright,
were swished through the air, with malice and spite.
Each vicious snip, hurt Jane to the core,
and her beautiful tresses, fell to the floor.

Two minutes is all that it took,
Too painful for poor Jane to look.
Her eyes welled with tears, all salty and hot,
and fell on her dress, drop, drop, drop.
‘All done’, said mum, ‘that wasn’t so bad,
now dry your eyes, don’t be so sad’.

But Jane was in shock, defeated and confused.
What had she done to be so ill-used?
Thoughts of revenge came to the fore,
she tried to supress them, but they came more and more.

She hid the remains under a blue woolly hat,
and stuck on a pony tail, and thought, ‘well, that’s that’.
But slowly and surely her hair began to grow,
and grow, and grow. When it would stop, no one could know.

Jane’s hair, glad to say is once more her glory,
but that is not quite the end of the story.

The doctor. Well, what a fate befall him,
some say it was just deserts for his sin.
Found at his desk, his pallid head dangled,
the police say he’d surely been strangled.

What had been used? They searched every place,
it wasn’t a scarf, a tie or a lace.
No clues much were found, but on the back of his chair,
were a few long strands, of chestnut brown hair.

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