The lady walked along the pavement in a purposeful manner. In days of lockdown, when almost everything is closed, when there are few places to which to walk, it was encouraging to see someone moving with determination, to see someone enjoying the brief sunshine of the November afternoon.
Perhaps the most uplifting thing was her hairdo. Her hair was cut short and dyed in three coloured stripes – white, shocking pink, and lime green. The hairstyle seemed a statement. Perhaps it was a response to the closure of all the hairdressers on 5th November, perhaps it was a reflection of her own personality. Whatever the reason for tricolour style, it was a declaration of the indomitability of the human spirit.
The hairdo recalled memories of my childhood years.
My mother had worked a hairdresser in Langport, spending time doing both gents’ and ladies’ hair, before young children came to absorb all of her time. Once we were older, she returned to occasional hairdressing work, sometimes at home, sometimes in people’s houses.
Mostly, the people who came for hair styling were women in their retirement years. Often, they were widows whose husbands had died long before their time. One woman’s husband had survived a Japanese prisoner of war camp, only to die while still a young man.
I remember those who came to the house because, if I was home from boarding school on the long holidays we had, it was my task to make cups of tea while the clients were under the drier.
The styling the women wanted was always intriguing to a teenage boy.
The 1970s were a time of glam rock followed by punk rock. Younger people wore their hair long, or extravagantly styled.
The women who came to get their hair done had a distinctness of their own. Perms and shampoos and sets and rinses were the order of the day. The rinses involved plenty of colour. There would be gun metal greys, and blues, and purples.
Oddly, those who were happy to tint their hair in shades of blue or purple, thought it odd that young people might choose flamboyant colours for their own hair.
However conservative or outrageous hairstyles might have been, the fact that people took so much care always seemed an optimistic statement. The 1970s were a time with a grimness of their own, but there were still plenty of people who were not going to be depressed by the stories on the television news.
A white, pink and green hairdo says that there are reasons to be cheerful.