I have trouble being a woman. There. It’s out. I just don’t feel comfortable where other women tread. Like in salons of any kind: nails, hair, treatment spas – for me, it’s usually a no, no, no. My last haircut was carried out a whole year ago. And it takes me a while to get there. Jack has to make the appointment. I find every excuse not to go. Then, as the appointment approaches, it weighs heavy. I get grumpy. Why can’t there be the odd earthquake in Wales I wonder? One that would cause just a small but significant amount of structural damage?

No such luck. Jack made this appointment for just me and Delphine, since Lulu is still growing her hair out. Plus she goes to school so we don’t count her in for the daytime activities anymore. Jack insisted that as well as a cut, this time I get highlights. Highlights? My friend Lindsay has them and I’ve admired them for years. Her hair is a bit similar to mine. But highlights?

‘You need to cover the grey,’ Jack said.

I swallowed. That was it. Just like that, I got old.

Still, Lindsay’s are nice. With this in mind, if I was going to need to have them, I decided I’d have them at her hairdresser’s. There are a lot of hairdressers to choose from in this little town. If someone did a proportional study, the numbers would surely be high for Aberystwyth. I always wonder if this is a reflection of the employment opportunities in Mid-Wales or if there are an over-proportion of the population here requiring professional hair care?

The jury is out. Still, things didn’t start so well. ‘I’m here to see Sandra,’ I said as we walked into the small, pink salon.

‘Sandra’s not taking on new clients,’ the lady at reception said politely, checking my name in the diary.

I stopped in my tracks. ‘But this is what I was told. My husband called. He was told my friend Lindsay sees Sandra.’

The receptionist stared at me. ‘Lindsay Rodgers?’

I nodded. If I’m not seeing Sandra, I was already thinking, I’m bailing. I’m going home. Part of me began to cheer. I even took a step towards the door.

Then Sandra turned up. An older lady, she struck me as more of a client than a hairdresser at first. Not your typical Aberystwyth-looking hairdresser.  ‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘I never just do Lindsay’s hair myself – my whole team does it. You’ll be in safe hands.’ And just like that she turned away and went back to her client, an elderly lady with so much foil on her, she seemed surely destined for the oven.

But that was it. I’d been dealt with. Still, my eyes narrowed. I had choices. I could still bail. Then a Spanish hairdresser approached me with a card in her hand. ‘This is Lindsay’s card. We have all the details of how she does her hair. You don’t need to worry.’

There it was. The word worry again. ‘I’m not worried,’ I maintained, while my voice raised annoyingly without my permission, ‘I just have a good idea what I’d like. And I was told I would see Sandra.’

She seemed a little pissed with me at this. I didn’t have time to go further though – since I remembered Delphine. I’d completely forgotten her! While I’d stayed frozen near the front door, Delph had entered the salon without a hitch. She was greeted by a child-woman herself who was now organising Delph into the hair-washing sink. If that was what it’s called. Delph looked at me and grinned. See ya Ma.

Where was my hairdresser? I could see her in the back room mixing white pastes into bowls. Lindsay’s hair card was propped up next to her. Hold on, I thought. She hadn’t done the hair consultation in front of the mirror. Everybody is supposed to get this. I strode to the back room. Luckily I could use the salon mirrors to make sure I looked casual doing it. I was going for purposeful stroll.

She barely looked up. ‘You said you wanted Lindsay’s hair.

‘As a template,’ I said, ‘ but not without looking at my hair first.’

She smiled like she’d planned it all. ‘You want to stay natural?’

I gulped. ‘Yeah.’

She put one bowl aside. ‘We’ll leave the bleach out then.’

How could this not be the most terrifying place in the world?

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