What’s wrong with the pudding basin haircut?

Nothing, right?

I caught my friend looking at me a bit oddly: her head on one side.

“What, – what,” I said nervously.

“You could do with a bit of a makeover,” she said, – “nothing drastic, but maybe that pudding basin haircut is a bit old hat now,” she stated.

I felt anger rise deep within me, “What’s wrong with the pudding basin cut?!” I said.


“Nothing’s wrong with it,” she replied. “It’s just that by now, maybe you should be sporting something a bit more stylish. You’ve had that style for as long as I’ve known you. Maybe you should be opening yourself up to a more creative version of yourself.”

I coughed and spluttered. She hadn’t been herself since she had taken to reading all these self-help books, and that’s ok as long as she is just helping herself, and not others.

“What the f… are you talking about,” I said uneasily, “A more creative version of myself.” – “What do you want me to do, stick crepe paper in my hair, decorate myself all over with Pritt stick and stick paper roses all over me, roll in some glitter, and give myself some sparkle, what exactly do you mean?” I asked.

“You are deliberately being obtuse,” she replied. Just go to another bloody hairdresser, you’ve been going to Sid-a-nay of Paris for 30 years now, have a change, live life a bit, walk on the wild side.”

I did an intake of breath. Leave Sidanay of Paris, how could I ever do that.

I once asked Sid-a-nay (otherwise known as Sidney Mullins) where did he get his unusual name for his shop from. He told me that shortly after he had just signed the papers for his shop, he had bought himself a croissant, it had given him violent indigestion, and he had never bought another one again, but hence the name Sid-a-nay of Paris was borne, I couldn’t really get the connection, but he dug me in the ribs and said – “Croissant, – Paris, – get it, “ If I had called the shop Sid Mullins, or just plain Sid, it would never have had that ring of sophistication about it.” I had chocked at this point, as sophistication was the last word that came to mind when visiting Sid-a-nay of Paris.

But – I digress. So I looked in the mirror and agreed that maybe the time was right for a change. I would do it, I would book myself into one of those swanky Up West hairdressers, and would emerge a new me. Ready for anything, ready to take on the world, ready to be a more CREATIVE VERSION OF MYSELF!


So a week from this conversation with my dear friend I am now entering the hallowed premises of this very upmarket shop-, or Salon, as I was told when making the appointment. I stupidly asked what street their SHOP was in, and was told in no uncertain terms – our SALON is in New Bond Street, well that put me in my place straight away. I can’t mention the name of the shop/salon for fear of being sued, and as after paying their bill I only have £14.38 to my name, I really am not up to being sued for millions and my name splashed all over the papers because I have trashed their name here. Hope you understand.

All of a sudden I was surrounded by what looked like stick people, I couldn’t tell if they were men or women, they all looked like part of a Lowry painting, scuttling about their little stick legs encased in the latest boots, their false eyelashes 10 yards long, and all blinking uncontrollably through these lashes. I worried at this point how they would ever have the strength to pick up a pair of scissors, let alone a hairdryer, maybe their customers had to help them.

Eventually the tallest, thinnest one of them all staggered towards me, I almost had to catch her, so high were her boots, and so frail her ankles in them, but she made it over to my chair, and we both breathed a sigh of relief. The stick picked up a lock of my hair and regarded it disdainfully. “Have you been living abroad,” she sniffed. “No” I replied, “Peckham”.

“It’s just that one’s hair is so terribly dry,” she said sadly.

“Oh,” I said, “That’s just Sid’s carbolic shampoo – he swears by it,” I replied jovially.

At this point she asked another stick to shampoo me, having decided I wasn’t worth the effort for her to do it herself. This new stick wraps me in a towel and enquiries if I would like an Indian Head Massage. I didn’t want to appear rude, so said “Yes please,” hoping it would involve a curry or something, but in fact, it was the new stick pressing on my head, her fingers digging into my scalp, and trying to pull my head off my neck. When she had finished the relief I felt just being allowed to get up off the chair and stagger back to the old stick was unbelievable.

I was then politely asked what herbal tea would I like. We have Green Tea, Raspberry Tea, Peppermint Tea, Mint Tea, China Tea. ?


“Cup of P.G. Tips please, “ I cheerily replied. I noticed a look pass between the two sticks and then thought longingly of Sid’s builder’s tea in his cracked plastic cup, which his wife Lil bought out to you, spilling most of it on the shop floor. I particularly liked the way Lil washed your hair, a fag-end hanging out of her mouth with ash an inch long, and the idea was that she finished washing your hair before the ash fell into your hair. 50% of the time you were ok, but the other 50% it just got washed in along with the carbolic shampoo. It became a bit of a sport over the years. Would I, or would I not escape before the ash dropped?

The first stick is now giving me her full attention. “Now Modom,” she says. Are we going for a complete change of style, or, and this is said in a much lower tone, do you want to keep this look? “Oh, a complete change please,” I reply.

“We will have to take into account Modom’s rather square face, and obvious nose” she replies. “Also your eyes do not sit squarely in the middle of your face. I will have to do some drastic re-shaping.” Again she sighs rather sadly.

Well, I felt bad when I walked in, but now I felt dreadful. I slumped down in the chair while she snipped away, now aware that my square face, big nose, and random eyes were probably frightening all the other clients.

What chance did I stand, no wonder the pudding basin cut had sufficed for all these years, it was easier, that way. At Sid-a-nay of Paris, no one pointed out what a freak you were. Why had I ever been unfaithful to Sid, it would never happen again.

Needless to say, my cup of P.G.Tips never materialised, obviously, it was unheard of in this shop/salon. And my hair – well it just turned out to be a shorter, squarer version of what Sid-a-nay of Paris had been doing for years, but this version just highlighted my defects even more!

As I staggered out of the shop £150 lighter than when I had come in, I wondered about the wisdom of change.


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