I go to the local hairdresser just as my mother did, the difference being that she went once a fortnight and I go about once in two months (when my hair starts hanging over my eyes)

The one I go to is a bright, airy, open plan, unisex salon. Mum’s was a small cosy salon divided into cubicles and was very much ladies only, except for the hairdresser, George.

She used to settle in there for the whole of Friday morning and I get impatient and start looking at my watch after an hour! She used to settle into her chair in front of the basin and lean forwards to have her hair shampooed, then settle back for the rest of the treatment while George brought the trolley with the tinting, cutting or setting equipment  to her cubicle. I follow the shampooer to a basin, lean back for shampooing and then follow her to the stylist for the next stage.

When Mum had a perm it was a very long affair and involved using clips attatched to a portable electric column. These clips were quite heavy and I remember when I had my first perm I had to have it done in two halves because my hair was so thick! I think this was called a Callinan perm. There was no choice about the sort of perm, in fact there was not a lot of choice about anything, there was one shampoo, one setting lotion and conditioning cream was rubbed in after the setting curlers were taken out.

Now, if you want a colour there is a vast array from “natural” hair colours to any colour of the rainbow and some people change colours nearly as often as changing clothes, and are quite open about the artificiality,  but then, it was done behind the closed curtains and the choices were henna red, soot black, peroxide blond, or blue rinse for the white haired. Mum had lovely reddish brown hair (like a fresh chestnut) but after she had pneumonia she started getting a few white hairs and George managed to hide them for her for several years until they became more numerous and then she let them stay and it seemed a very short time before she had snow white hair which suited her very well. She never went through the awful “pepper and salt” stage, I always remember her with reddish brown or totally white hair. 

There was no blow drying then, just a set and this was done using tight curlers and waves were made using vicious looking crocodile clips, which I was amused to see are now coloured and used as hair ornaments.

By the time I was in my teens they started to have a bit more choice in the perms and used plastic curlers. The set was put in using hairpins to make pincurls and the crocodile clips disappeared. They also started selling home perm kits, the most famous of  these was the Toni.  After these, came the rollers and back combing.  By the time I got married in 1973 it was more like a pompadour style (without the powder!) I had a very complicated arrangement of curls and ringlets which used a large number of hairpins. When I took out the hairpins there was so much back combing in it that I looked like Medusa 🙂 and it took about half an hour to brush out. 

Soon after this came the blow drying and unisex hair salons which we see today and a vast array of treatments and the choice becomes ever more bewildering.

I sometimes wonder if life would be easier if I had a “George” with his half a dozen styles to tell me what I was going to have done.