Old Navy

Courtesy of a five-pound box colour sold in supermarkets, and a mid-life crisis, I have awesome hair. It’s not so much the cut – which before yesterday’s exasperated hacking session in front of the bathroom mirror was a regular pixie, and is now mostly shortish (sorry, Tina. Miss you.) – but the fact of it being navy blue.

I love it. I mean, it’s terribly bad for my hair, all that ammonia and peroxide. It’s not something I can keep up long term without the risk of going bald. The dye smells disgusting and makes a horrible mess. And it is just hair: it won’t make me better-looking or healthier or anything useful. But it cheers me up, this evidence of my ability to bend the laws of the universe in the tiniest way, just because I want to.

It has made me kind of conspicuous, though. Quite probably it was naive of me not to realise that this would be the case, but I had got used to being invisible. Overnight I stood out like a sore thumb, and strangers would stare and point and comment. People who come up to me at work, or in the shops or the street have always been complimentary (that’s how I know it’s awesome), and small children love to point out this oddity as they go by, often to the embarrassment of their handlers. I bet there are at least as many people who think it is a stupid thing to do, but so far they haven’t felt the need to tell me so.

At the start of lockdown, with all the urgency over shortages and homeworking, cancelled exams, sick and vulnerable friends, and terrible news everywhere (not to mention being stuck inside the house for twenty-three hours a day), it seemed ridiculously trivial to even think about hair dye. But after eight or nine weeks of scowling glumly in the mirror, I coloured it anyway, and immediately felt better. Not a huge amount -there is still more than enough bad news to go around, after all – but enough to make it worth doing. Whatever gets you through the night, like Lennon said.

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