Feeling clapped-out, broke and blue post Christmas, a bizarre haircut and increasingly baggy features fuelled my growing sense of inadequacy and of being generally unfit for human society. Not wanting to look at myself, I didn’t want others to either and had taken to going out with the dog on her unavoidable twice daily walks under cover of darkness, – happily not so hard in winter. Then two things happened that changed everything.
One was bumping into the magician Tanya Christianssen of Nordic Beauty Services and the other was a meeting with an extraordinary hairdresser Robert Boca, who uses scissors like Michaelangelo used a paintbrush.
Tanya has featured in these pages before, but she has a new machine. It works like a time machine, not in a ‘zoom forward fifty years’ kind of way, but in a wonderful ‘look as you did when you had TONS OF COLLAGEN and were VITAL’ kind of way. She was realistic. “Elizabeth you really need a course of treatments, but for today I can make you look refreshed and rejuvenated and at least help you feel better.” And she did, using an infra-red laser thing on my face which felt warm and comforting and made a lovely soft ‘glooping’ noise. And the impact on my “it’s all over for me,” mood was instant.
But it was on a pre-Tanya walk with Nellie-the-Wonder-Dog, in strong winds and driving rain that I spotted Nic Ladha the hairdressers, lit up and inviting across the green. So Nellie and I soaking and bedraggled made our way to the salon. It was after six, and gratifyingly empty save for one man, so we went in, creating two puddles on the floor where we stood. The salon was snug, comfortable and welcoming, as inviting inside as it had looked from outside in the storm.
The man told me his name was Robert and asked how he might help. I said: “I’d like a long layered bob.” He looked at me with some surprise. The last time I’d been to a hairdresser on the High St. I explained, “I asked for the same thing and came out with what looked like a short back and sides by way of a pudding bowl.”
I neglected to say that since then, given the amount of times this scenario has similarly repeated itself in various salons –with for me, varying degrees of psychological distress – I’d taken matters into my own hands and simply cut it myself.
“Take a seat,” he said. “And I’ll show you how we might help it grow into the cut I think you want.” I did. And he did, saying things like. “The weight here needs to be taken out. It’s very uneven.” He was confident, assured and I trusted him immediately.
“Please can you cut it now?” I said. “I have a customer now, he replied. I am really booked up. Can you come back on Friday? I have a cancellation.”
And so returning on Friday, looking more human thanks to Tanya’s time machine, I discovered why Robert is so in demand. He really is a genius with a pair of scissors.
He said: “It’s good you have curly hair. It’s very forgiving. If you had straight hair, you’d have looked very odd with this last cut you had.” This was not the time to own up. And whilst Robert must have wondered who on earth on the High St. was being paid for doing this to people, he didn’t ask.
Robert, I was learning, is a genuinely warm, generous and thoughtful human being. I felt as uplifted from our conversation as I did from the brilliant haircut he so expertly delivered. And in that place, whilst the eponymous owner Nic also chatted quietly with a long time contented client as he coloured her hair, I felt re-connected to the human race. I was restored by the simple pleasure of being there and feeling positively transformed as my hair began to fall beautifully around my face.
I left, still clapped out, but no longer looking it, still broke, but feeling like a million dollars. And not blue. I felt ready to face the world.
Nic Ladha Hairdressers is situated across the Rd. from Turnham Green Station.
Tanya Christenssen :Nordic Beauty Services is just across from Chiswick Park station.
Written by Thoroughly Modern Mrs, Elizabeth Kinder.