Hair dye may be one of the most toxic cosmetics that we habitually put on our bodies. I read somewhere that a ranking of the most dangerous professions puts hairdressers right up there with Chilean miners and human cannonballs. But I have yet to find a suitable alternative hair colour that isn’t wishy-washy.
Meanwhile, in an attempt at harm minimisation on the financial front at least, I go to my local branch of Boots. Here I am bewildered by rack upon rack of boxed hair dye, each one bearing the face of an averagely pretty white woman with a slightly different hair colour, smiling like the cat that got the cream. “Look at me,” she seems to purr, “I dyed my hair honey copper blonde and now little Johnny has got a scholarship to Eton, my husband has been promoted at Goldman Sachs, I’ve just taken delivery of a new Porsche Cayenne and I’m having an affair with Dirk, my personal trainer.”
I search among the rows of boxes for my usual colour. Then I search for even longer for a staff member to help me.
“We don’t stock that colour”
“Do you mean it’s out of stock?”
“No. We’ve never stocked it.”
I’m fairly certain that I have bought it here for the past five years. Nonetheless, I accept that that line of reasoning will get me nowhere so I get busy studying the shelves and eventually select another packet whose smiling head I might aspire to.
On emerging from the bathroom I Skype Lulu in Armidale, northern New South Wales, Australia. They say that familiarity breeds contempt. In my experience, distance does not necessarily soften it. “What’s happened to your hair?” screams Lulu.
“Well, I dyed it, kind of... purple.”
It’s, it’s maroon!”