Thursday, 27 August 2009

A Big Day - Part 1

Up early in great excitement. Today is wig day.
I miss the bus. Oh no!

Text to Iris:
Just missed bus. Phone about to die. Please go in and tell them if you get there before me.

Text from Iris:
The bakerloo line is down and the traffic is gridlocked I have been trying to get bus for 30 still on regent st.

Oh no, oh no!!
I feel there is a wig curse upon me.

But that’s just unnecessary pessimism. As I’ve learned, it’s likely to give one cancer or shorten one’s life in a dozen of other ways so I shrug off the thought and, sure enough, another bus comes along.

Raoul’s turns out to be a funny, old-fashioned place with hairdressing stations in the front and a wig-fitting establishment in the back. They do all the wigs for patients at St Mary’s. I’m ushered into a curtained cubicle decorated with textured wallpaper and a blue painted dado rail.

A nice enough but not very interested blonde lady comes in. She does not ask me my name or bother to introduce herself. I guess she fits wigs on cancer patients all day every day and has heard all the stories. I imagine it could be quite a depressing job if you let it get to you. She asks me what my hair used to be like. “Rita Haworth in Gilda” I reply, hopefully. “I don’t think we have any wigs like that” she states. “Well what have you got?” I ask. The look on her face says: “this is going to be a long session...”

First up is a short, spiky number. It is brown with reddish highlights. I have never imagined myself as the head of the Human Resources Department or Admin Manager but now I see that, with the right hairstyle, anything is possible. I hand it back with a shudder.
I realise that wig choosing might be more tricky that I’d thought, especially since I have no idea what I want. Luckily for me, at this point Iris arrives.

The next wig is a winner. It’s a dark brunette, ‘cappucino’, with no highlights, cut in a stylish bob with a blunt fringe, shorter at the back and then angled down to curl into one’s jawline. It’s by René of Paris, Van Nuys, California, made in Thailand.

Next is a long black coiffe – too Morticia Addams. Then a layered short ash-blonde look – too Lady Di. Then a long, yellow blonde style – Iris suggests adding a pair of sunglasses and a kaftan and going out dressed as Cousin It. Finally a copper red wig with highlights in about ten different colours. It’s very long and multi-layered with a flicky fringe. To me it looks like a cross between Suzi Quattro and Farah Fawcett. Iris insists it’s got potential. I try the dark bob again. It’s very French and sexy. Then the red mop. “I don’t think so.” “Wait,” says Iris “look at it from the back.” “Hmmm” say I. Iris enrols the support of the wig lady who holds up the mirror so that I can see it from every angle. “It looks lovely” says the wig lady. “It’s better that your own hair ever was” says Iris. “Hmmm” I say again but not in nearly such a definite way. “I’ll take them both.”

As the voucher-exchange transaction gets under way, I study the care instructions. How to wash your wig (cold water only, use wig shampoo and conditioner). How to dry it (shake and hang upside down overnight). And then WARNING: Avoid exposure to heat such as; blow dryers, curling irons, hot rollers, ovens, barbecue grills... Well I understand that heated styling tools may cause the nylon hair to frizz in an undesirable manner and I am often in need of a reminder not to stick my head in the oven but under what dreadful circumstances, I wonder, would I be desperate enough to barbecue my wig?