I found it hard to leave the house today.
Having spent most of yesterday on the 'Sunrise Coast' in Southwold, having healthy fun on the reconstructed pier, eating overpriced fish&chips and drinking Adnams beer (before 6pm!), we left the pub mid-afternoon, in order to search for early bluebells in the woods.
As we left, a group of nondescript lads started pointing & sniggering.
I always like to soothe my aching paranoia by staring straight back, usually to confirm that it's me they are addressing. Sure enough, as I passed them, their heads followed my path, and one let out rather a large guffaw.
I haven't been guffawed at since the early 90's, so I inevitably started to check my appearance for signs of mirth-provision. My fly was buttoned, my nose was clean and I had steered myself & my companions away from the very few pieces of dog-shit, littering Southwold's golden paving stones.
As far as I was concerned, I hadn't been this un-funny since Aisle16 shared a Glastonbury performance tent with The Poetry Cubicle, and I scared off (bored off?) the bulk of audience with my rant about fanzine writers & bloggers.
I put the lads' reason for hilarity down to sunshine, beer and general fuck-wittedness.
But decided to stay in for the best part of today.
I was bruised, albeit secretly.
Having succeeded in writing one poem, hoovered the house (groundfloor only), washed-up, completed two washing cycles & at least one witty reposte to Facebook statii, the late afternoon ennui that is 'you have no booze in the house so go buy some quick, before Co-Op shuts, you dickhead', enveloped me like a badly written metaphor about a duvet.
Hurriedly, I threw on my cycling clothes (I have a 1940s delivery bike a la' Granville-OpenAllHours that requires the wearing of wartime fashion tank-tops & de-mob trousers, with bicycle clips) and I bone-shook my way to this side of a Rainbow.
As I pretended to lock up my bike in the designated area, two very-descript girls began to giggle and point.
The one who didn't look like someone I'd like to hang out with, giggled & prodded her accompli, and gave the impression of a hyena in a dentist's chair - beyond the natural urge to be an animal but full of intense pain at the sight of my visage.
The little one (who really wasn't old enough to warrant less than a clip 'round the ear) decided to put me out of misery.
"Ain't you heard of a haircut mate?"
It was my hair!
People were laughing at my hair.
For those of you reading this who don't know me, (and at present I have 4 'followers', 3 of whom 'don't know me')
I have spent somewhere in the region of 25% of my total lifetime earnings on my hair.
I am a potential shareholder in Toni & Guy. I have more 'product' in my bathroom cabinet than sauvignon. I have embraced every one of the last 30years of 'do', from a 70's Donny Osmond, thru' a skinhead, then an 80's back-combed mess, and the inevitable 'I wannabe Liam' and subsequent metrosexual.
I have maintained my hair.
My hair has been an ongoing project.
My hair has defined me.
And no-one (except maybe siblings, parents, maths teachers & priests) has ever laughed at my hair.
As I pulled away from the Rainbow, 2nd gear, frustration & 2 litres of dry cider weighing down my wicker basket, I got to thinking about why I felt so upset.
I've been retired now for just over 9 months.
In that time I've reconnected with the things that really matter to me.
I garden, I forage, I potter and I procrastinate.
And in this seemingly never ending lifetime of possibility, I think it's fair to say that I've 'let things go'.
My paunch is paunchier, my man-boobs more so.
My clothes are suspect, my fingernails rustic.
And my hair.
My hair has obviously become laughable.
I spend hours on end, bleaching teaspoons & toilets, but I no longer peroxide my hair.
At 42, the bleach-bottle's gone.
The bottle's gone.
But tomorrow, I start sharpening the scissors........