Stemming from Irish and Scottish stock it should come as no surprise then that I am 'blessed' with naturally red, curly hair...and lots of it. I've lost count the number of times I've been asked if my hair is natural. Suffice it to say that on any given day and with minimum aid and teasing I could sport a 'fro worthy to rival that of Billy Preston or Angela Davies. Now this is all well and good and the curl can of course be fun and flirty and a little mischievous but try telling that to your average fifteen-year-old girl who faces the daily morning battle of trying to conquer the unconquerable while amassing not one iota of frizz control. And oh how cruel kids can be. From Whin Bush to Sideshow Bob via Fizz and that ol' failsafe Ginger Nut, I've had them all thrown at me at one stage or another. Adolescence can be tricky but I've finally reached that point where I throw a silent word of thanks skyward that I didn't peak physically, or indeed come anywhere close to peaking, during those teenage wilderness years.
Meanwhile, venturing full-steam ahead into my third decade hasn't exactly proved smooth sailing either when it comes to issues concerning hairdressers. Ask any curly-haired gal and I'm sure you will be met by the same response that anything beyond a sexy beach hair kink is sure to ignite a spasm of doubt and fear in the eye of s/he brandishing the scissors. Blink and you could miss it but rest assured the professional 'do-fixer is quaking in their comfy flats. While I've watched with envious longing as my friends indulge in a pre-night-on-the-tiles blowout to rival that of the Jennifer Anistons and Sofia Vergaras of the world, I've learned to accept the fact that I will never ever leave the salon with a smile on my face, primed to take on the world. Never. Last minute appointments I can't do for I have to immediately get myself home to wash my hair, rinse all the fabulous-smelling products straight out and sit and let it dry naturally which. Can. Take. Hours. And even then I have learned that it sits better if I wash it just before going to bed. Forget that your Mother warned against going to bed with wet hair for this is the only surefire way of waking up with tumbling-semi-gorgeous locks...look and admire first thing for as soon as you touch it or even think about applying more product, the frizz will have returned lest you should have forgotten its obstinate ways.
A particularly bad hairdressing episode occurred when I was seventeen after having requested all-over blonde highlights to be placed in my shoulder-length tangled mop. What followed still makes my butt cheeks pucker. Foregoing the civilised route of foils my hairdresser on this occasion opted for the cap and hook. Sweet mother of god, the pain and discomfort with every hook and pull still brings tears to my eyes. I've since had the meche experience which was needless to say a far more therapeutic venture.
I did find a soul hairdresser once. Her name was Victoria and she worked at a funky salon in Edinburgh that had Tunnock's Caramel Wafers and Teacakes free for the taking at any point throughout your visit. The stuff of salon dreams really! English, with an off-beat sense of style and conversation that simply screamed dirty rock n'roll, Victoria had the makings to be Marianne and Keith's secret lovechild. I was 25 and for the first time ever I saw the potential I had growing out the top of my own head. Because of her I let the 'fro bounce and groove and do whatever the hell it wanted for she knew how to darn well cut my party helmet. I had people stop me in the street asking me which hairdresser I went to. The trouble is however, I have the tendency to up and jump ship to settle in other lands on any old whim and after a year of living in Edinburgh that's exactly what I did. On my return (for Edinburgh is a place it seems I am destined to always return to!) I promptly called her salon to book a much-needed appointment and some quality Victoria/Orlagh time, only to be told she didn't work there anymore. My heart cracked a little that day, I'm not going to lie. I asked where I could locate her - probably not the best idea since it would mean taking business from the salon but I had nothing to lose so ask I did only to be met with the frosty response 'We don't tend to keep track of our previous employees but I think Victoria has set up her own business' or something to that effect. That was enough for me, I was off on a Victoria-finding mission but at each and every turn I was met with a dead end and have never to this day been able to find her.
It's still a bit of a sore point if I'm being honest and I sincerely doubt I'll ever fully give up on my quest to find her. A small indication to highlight my regard for this miracle hair-worker is best summed up in the fact that the guy who I was 'seeing' at the time and who I cared just a little too much for happened to know her and joked that he thought she had a crush on him. I remember thinking in my heart of hearts 'No way, Victoria could do better'!. And so it is now, that guy who I thought I'd never get over seldom, if ever, features in my thoughts, but with each new haircut or frizz-controlling product I so much as look at I wonder, what would Victoria have to say?