Sunday, August 31, 2014
Hack it off
Sometimes there's a great joy in paying somebody for a service which will be done very well. Taking a watch, for example, to be mended rather than leaving it to accumulate dust in one of those miscellaneous saucers which sit on shelves and contain safety pins and coins and other broken oddities. I guess if I was the sort of person who took clothing for alterations, then that too. There's joy too in going to the hairdressers on a Saturday once every few weeks. Having somebody swaddle you in a black gown and giving yourself up to that strangely intimate yet delicious ritual of having your scalp scratched and hair washed by a stranger. You can enjoy a complimentary coffee and one of those strange malty biscuits which only ever come with complimentary coffees and you can leaf through the magazines you're too cynical to spend your own money on and give in to convention and discuss holidays as you watch somebody snip snip snip away and then walk out, after handing over some money and really feel sorted. I think that so often it's that feeling of sortedness that you're paying for.
All of the above is true, but a little DIY should never be knocked, and sometimes just feels better for the soul. I've spent much of the past fortnight doing a lot of standing in front of the mirror and knocking my hair behind my shoulders to visualise a shorter length. We all do that when we're thinking about a haircut, don't we? Contort lengths from the front into fake fringe. Or pulling a ponytail loose to test a bob and realising that you just look like Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. To hack or not to hack?
In the end, I just decided to do it myself at home, which I haven't done since I got a 'proper job' last year and felt that being one of those people who has their hair foiled every 6-8 weeks is the right sort of person to employ. I was listening to Solange, no doubt it had something to do with Solange. You can't sing with gusto to an EP called 'True" without actually being true, and, you know, reassessing the financial implications of bi-monthly hair snipping. It's so damned rewarding to just grab the waste paper basket, twist locks and hack with a pair of scissors from the kitchen. Snip snip. Shit! Snip snip snip. Cutting your hair at home feels super good if you're a fan of instant gratification, feel you can conquer a straight line, or don't mind either way. Swish swish swish. You walk differently when you have a haircut you like and which cost you £0. Bounce bounce bounce, down the street- that saved haircut money just bought a cosy little caffeine kick and a trip to the cinema. Imagine yourself at the cinema, one of those up-close shots of your beaming face with light moving across, echoing the face of the universal cinema-goers reflected back to us from various screens. Your beaming face and that free blunt haircut. Money for popcorn or tear-jerking catharsis on a Sunday afternoon. Real joy.
Paying for a 'service' is something I still yo-yo over. It seems like the right thing to do, the adult thing to do. But then I come back to thinking about the relationship between full time work and consumption and expenditures and just feel incredibly tired. I subscribe to the thinking that it's very convenient to keep people wanting more, consuming more, working more. And why is spending a great sum of money associated with glossiness and good upkeep? I always tell myself that if I came into a comfy sum of money I would buy myself a killer Saville Row suit, but then I think of my Great Aunty Megan who wore the killer suits that she had made herself 40 years previously. Has paying for frequent haircuts over the past year been worth it? Would I have looked scruffier at the office if I snipped my hair at home, or would I have been able to afford a couple more trips away at the weekend instead? (NB, Carrie Bradshaw; you have enriched my life in many ways but I wish you hadn't dulled the impact of a good rhetorical question.) Maybe looking scruffier at the office wouldn't matter so much if it bought me the chance to do more wonderful things at the weekend, to take a train to London and gently glide through the waters at the Hampstead Heath Ponds, buy a friend a bottle of wine to say 'I'm thinking of you' and pop some red tulips into the shopping basket at the last minute, just before the sound of "Till Number 3 please". I think I'll always quite enjoy exploring where to practice frugality and where it might be worth spending more. (HELLO sleeping at Stansted Airport before that early-morning Ryanair flight.) For now though, there's quite a nice smugness to doing it yourself. Hack hack hack, instant gratification.