Sure, my hair was long back then
& luxuriously curly in the photo
on my Student Card 1976.
The kipper-tie a kind of chrysalis:
the woolly-headed kid about to turn
into a smart young professional.
At sixty-six, I gave up work,
just before the March lockdown,
since when the short-back-and-sides have overflowed
with silver strands below the ear-lobes
and a pigtail my daughter likes to knot
though, sadly, nature’s deficit
still shines out on top.
People I pass on the path through the woods
smile and offer cheery greetings
that are warmer, I like to think,
because they see in me a free-spirit –
a little wild, perhaps, but quite benign;
after all, a chap with hair like mine
can’t take himself too seriously, can he?
My wife likes my new-grown mane,
the kids and mates take the mick,
while the most impeccable types
of my acquaintance, clipped
in manner and appearance, look,
then look away, completely undermined,
I like to think,
by the fly excesses of my tresses.
What am I to do?
I enquire of the man in the mirror.
My locks, you see, have recently become
high-maintenance – it takes
a couple of minutes or more to comb them through –
and the comb has started to extract
an ever-heavier tythe of precious threads.
I’m thinking of getting some clippers.
I’ll chop the over-hanging branches with scissors,
then run it all over on a number 3.
That would just leave the long white beard.
Sorry, I didn’t mention the beard,
but the options there would seem to include:
continuing towards the chin on a number 3,
some artistic topiary
or growing the full Moeen Ali.
It’s all about identity, I suppose.
I’ve been looking to look
like a Man of Letters,
or the long-haired lay-about
my father’s generation deplored
or, at very least,
a superannuated hippy.
This, I’m afraid, is what can happen
when you loosen the knot after forty years
of wearing a tie, and when
>the length of your hair<
>is no longer regulated<
by the office diary entry:
Friday 10:00am Haircut –
set to recur every six weeks.
Needed or not, round it came.
569 days after my last haircut, I underwent, at the hands of an Albanian barber, and without anaesthetic, a procedure that replaced my extensive locks with a short back and sides.