Rien ne Change ci rien ne change
I have had many hairdressers in my time. Back in 1962 my father took me to a salon in Dunstable as a treat. I think it was called 'Curl up and Dye'. I came out looking like a very bad imitation of Alma Cogan. Like the girl in 'Hairspray'. I had a big personality and a tush to match. Back-combed and lacquered to within an inch of its life, each follicle had been pulled and scraped to frame my 13-year-old face. It was the style favoured by 45 year old typists from the pool and swinging insurance clerks. The flick-ups and fringe made me look like a startled bat in a bush. The minute I got home I washed it out. I can still smell the lacquer. Or maybe it's the new Hermes perfume that Christian sprayed on me this evening, but more of him later.
In my teens I had a shiny bob. I would wash my hair with a shiny-hair shampoo then, hanging my head over the bath, pour diluted vinegar onto my scalp. The jug would rest on the edge of the bath. No stand up showers in them days. Posing in front of my full-length, purple-framed mirror, I would fashion the sides into kiss curls, and then endlessly comb the rest of the hair to make it turn under, like Kathy McGowan on 'Ready Steady Go', or flick it up like Sandy Shaw.
I read last week that Sandy is having her feet re-sculpted. She's a granny and clearly feels the need for a foot lift! But I digress.
When I went to bed I would lie on my back with my head hanging out to the left of the mattress. Had anybody come into my room, I could have been mistaken for the dead Marquis De Sade in his bath. But it was truly the only way to sleep if I didn't want to squash any of the nearly dry hairs out of shape. On the floor music crackled from my black and white Dansette. I had few records, sorry, vinyl. It was either a Grieg string thing or a very scratched Dionne Warwick. I still have them.
At drama school I made a few bob by modelling for Vidal Sasoon. I had one of the original five point cuts favoured by Mary Quant. I've got that kind of hair. If it's dried right, it'll stay straight. Otherwise, it's sort of kinky.
The only glamorous advert I ever did was to model for Lord Lichfield. I was the brunette betwixt the blonde and the red-head. We were advertising a free give-away plastic hair brush for a woman's magazine. Sir Patrick gave us an arty photo book, full of soft porn, to peruse whilst he set the studio up. I had had a row the night before with my then boyfriend. Having cried all night, my face had the look of a goldfish with goitre trouble. Sir Patrick preferred to take pictures of the back of my head only...
By the time I was in my late twenties and singing in a new wave band, I frequented a Japanese hairdressing outfit in Parkway, Camden Town, North London. They didn't speak English. The only Japanese I knew was Sionara and Geisha. I would sit down, point to the girl sitting next to me, mime very loudly that I wanted it to look like hers and then take my glasses off so I couldn't see the damage. I had it cut very, very, short. I mean very, very short like a Japanese marine. It was both appropriate for my punky image, and cheap since it would take at least a year to grow. The little Japanese snipper would start at sunrise, using a pair of tiny little hair scissors and cut each hair individually. She slowly worked my head. It was almost zen-like. The silence, the snipping, the concentration until the House of the Rising Sun became the Tea House of the August Moon. When I left I looked ever so slightly oriental. I have got tiny little feet after all.
My the time I hit my thirties, my hair had grown long and I was making regular money on the telly so I used to go to Harrods and their long hair salon. Up the escalators to the beauty department. It was, and still is, ridiculously over-priced. But I was young, impressionable and truly believed that the stylists knew what they were doing. I would sit in the salon full of rich dowagers from Kensington and read the glossy mags. I don't know about you, but I do find them increasingly difficult to read. The light reflects on the shiny pages. I'm forever tipping them up and down to be able to see Posh and Becks in a good light.
I would have all the split ends cut until finally my substantial mane was one length. Then, forgive me but I knew not what I did. They would put on a special hair mask to make it shine. I found out later that it was whale blubber. If you work at Harrods, don't sue me. That's what I was told. It was a thick, light green sludge slapped all over the head then left to sit whilst a very expensive menu was waved under your nose. After three hours and a re-mortgage, I would descend the escalator and step out into the invariably wet night.
The make-up artists had fun with my hair. There was so much of it to play with. They would roll it, blow it, curl it and tease. Diana Dors would nag me to have my fringe cut. We shared the same make-up room at TVam. 'You can't see your eyes,' she would nag. But I was a singer in a rock band and unruly bangs were de rigour.
Then motherhood arrived and I ended having my hair cut for convenience, but not for long. If God gives you a head of hair, and you've still got it by the time your reach 50, what are you going to do with it? Watch it curl up and die? By then I had been to Covent Garden, Mayfair, Tunbridge Wells and 'Toads', a wonderful place opposite the Kent and Sussex Hospital.
In 2001 I went to Trevor Sorbie, but he was always too busy to fit me in. In any case, I felt like the old lady up from the sticks. The salon was full of young uns talking on their mobiles whilst the tin-foil squares lifting their highlights blinded me. All I wanted was to lift my spirits and not end up looking like my Auntie Freda.
Then two years ago I was persuaded, well instructed actually, to go to Jo Hansford in Mayfair. It's where all the posh folk go, from Camilla to Diaz. They've won every colouring medal in the business, the girls are fabulous and it only costs a couple of months salary.
You lot loved it on the box, and I loved it. Charlie did the colour. She's a girl, and Neil did the cut and blow job - he's a boy (luckily). Recently I decided that I simply couldn't justify spending so much money for the radio. After all, it's only Luce, the producer, and the engineer who can see me. The rest is left to your imagination. So, I went back to 'Toads'. Mark is talkative, gregarious, generous and dead good at his job. A fresh sarnie is bought from next door, the banter is good and it's only the same price as three new outfits from Primark.
But then I asked Jeanette where she had hers done. Jeanette used to teach B to swim. She's a very good woman and her hair is always very well coiffed.
'I go to Christian', she said.
'Where is Christian?', said I. 'In Wadhurst', said she.
Well, I'm always one for a bit of a gamble so I called him up. He has a very deep, throaty French voice, slow of speech and gallic of phrase. 'Where are you from?' I asked. 'Dublin', he said.
I was surprised. There was a hiatus at the end of the line. Ah! he's making a joke! A sense of humour!
So, to cut a long bob short, I drove out to Wadhurst where to my absolute delight Christian ended up cutting my long bob short. Not so short that I look like I did in Camden, but short enough for the 'oosbind to come home and remark on how pretty I looked - he hasn't done that since 1977.
Christian is older than me, grew up in the Congo, and has a Civil Partnership with Michael, an ex-headmaster. Between them they have ex-wives and children, a dog called Benson and a cottage to curl up and die for (Groan...). He charges the same price as a bra from marks and sparks and has single-handedly made East Sussex feel like Holland Park thanks to his salon, which he's had for years and years. He has worked with gobby celebs so completely understood how to relax me. I didn't bother reading - not reading sneering - at 'Hello' because I was far too interested in hearing his tales of Africa, and also Provence, where he has houses. His gossip is of the highest calibre. Much better than 'Heat'. (I really shouldn't bite the hand that feeds me.) He ended up making me look like a French Gamin as opposed to an Italian Porn Star which is what I asked for.
He and Michael invited me to stay for a glass of wine, which I did, only I had hot lemon instead and we talked about all sorts. Christian sprayed me with his deliciously-smelling Hermes aftershave and then I asked him to translate my favourite quote of the day. I had read that Tilda Swinton's life philosophy is 'Nothing changes if nothing changes.' So, Monsieur Leleon said it to me in his glorious French accent. 'Rien ne change si rien ne change,' and I believe that's where we came in. So, from my nouvelle tete et moi, it's bonne nuit from moi and it's bonne nuit from him.
When Chrissie in Carcassone reads this, she'll kill my Franglais. Pardon Chrissie. Nuit nuit et cusoon.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
Hmmmmmm 2 Christian's in your life should I be worried??
I always thought your hair looked like that amazing hair that you could do anything with...you are lucky..not that I'm follically challenged but I have potentially quite curly locks,I live in Spain too and it's so boiling and humid that yesterday after leaving the hairdressers and driving home and pottering for about 10mins in the kitchen..I suddenly had a fringe of corksrewish curls and 50s housewife flicks everywhere else instead of the sleek style, Oh well,shouldnt complain I spose..but your hair is fab Jenny and it's such a great feeling to have a new cut too,I know cos I gotabout 6 inches snipped off 4 weeks ago...freedom !!
Great to hear from you and to know that you have just fallen under the scissors and not a bus...it seems so long!
How is Jackson?
The hairdresser sounds a charmer. Lucky girl. You have a fantastic head of hair.
I also did the bit with the vinegar but mum said it was to keep the nits away. I spent my youth smelling like a gherkin.
My hair is Anna Reaburn (spelling?)grey and very short. Gave up with bottled colour a few years ago but not sure if that was the right decision.
Can your bloggers get audience tickets for your TV programmes? I will be here in France till November so I'll miss the chance but I know that there would be lots of the others that would love to come and support you if they could.
P.S. There is nothing wrong with a nice bit of Franglais. Much better that than shouting in English and muttering that "these people all speak English really" and "they are just being difficult".Some people just shouldn't travel! I don't speak French well but I work hard to learn more.
Bonne nuit et faites de beux rÍves!
Chrissie x x
Well what a week I've had (My Mum died and she was only 93 how dare she)! Anyway in the middle of all the chaos and mayhem I realised I hadn't read your blog so in the search of a little light relief I logged on. You didn't dissapoint, the daft thing is I'm actually smiling while I'm reading it. The picture you painted of the hairdressers was like a walk down memory lane (I've done quite a bit of that this last week let me tell you). Anyway I'm just letting you know that I'm glad that you were there to make me smile and great (sorry not using that word) good (sorry can't use that word either). Fantastic news about the Food Poker. It sounds to me like a bit of Ready Steady Cook and a bit of ? Am I right? Anyway look forward to you back on the box. I do not even know where to look to find out about this persons cum uppence so I guess that is your secret. (Unless you give us a couple of clues).
What! I live in Wadhurst. Who is this Christian person? I am fffffffifty... and toying with having my hair cut into the beloved bob of the 80's and 90's (the year's not my grandparents!) .. but with the panache of the 21st century. So PLEASE dearest Jeni be more specific... I could do with cheering up! lotsalove Jane x
Hi Jeni, Have been ill so haven't read this blog until now. I'm sure your hair looks fab - I always used to like it a bit shorter on GFL. Also, just had courage to listen to the show - not that it's bad (!) but I mentioned before that I am a bit squeamish and wimpy. Anyway, I surprised myself in really enjoyed it again. I look forward to your blog about it.
Jenni - Loved reading the tales regarding your barnet (sorry)- I remember those days well.
Can't wait to see you on the "box" but will we recognise you? Sylph-like figure and new hair do.
What you women go through to look glamourous. Luckily I don't have that problem...just keep a pair of clippers handy and whizz over my head every now and then.
I see the BBC are advertising for enthusiastic audience members for Food Poker. When do you start work on it? as they don't say on their website.
It says that the audience decides the fate of the chef's.. Oh dear..hope that does'nt mean standing Ed Bains or Simon Rimmer up against a wall and shooting them it they over cook the carrots or such like!!
Your show is coming on really well Jeni, I listened to it tonight after sky+ing it (and the lovely Ed-yum). I found this on Digital Spy, it's a forum for radio geeks. "and i'm loving the woman talking about meat who was on instead of the nanna raeburn repeat. She was very good - very old style lbc 1152 am. well done LBC!" See new fans all the time!
We always told you to keep yer hair on an don't worry so much...x0x