Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Unlikely Role-Models Part Deux: Men

Unlikely Role-Models Part Deux:  Men

Now, while there appear to be an explosion of websites, facebook groups, and blogs written by women, like me, for women like me going on and on and on about how hard the transition to grey is blah blah blah, there is one group of people, quite a large group  of people who are just quietly getting on with it. 


I like to think of myself as a feminist in the most basic sense that it means equality between the sexes.  Well in my book, that means it’s a two way street.  I know it’s not often us modern female types admit that we can learn something from men, but I’m suggesting this is one coming of age problemo that they appear to be coping with a lot better than us.  I repeat.  They are just GETTING ON WITH IT.

In an average week, I can think of many men who I meet and who I know who are getting on with it.  Chaps who have effortlessly glided into greydom without a care. Here are some of them:
The chef from Birdies where I worked when I was 20 
The  Rugby coach and several rugby Dads
The lovely man in the grocers.
The BF's hubby - A Captain of Industry.
The brickie - my Mother in Law's main squeeze who has been described as a 'Silverback'. 
Oh yeah, and the ex-husband, but I think that might have been my fault...

There is one massive reason why men seem to be apparently impervious to going grey.  It is because there is something else they are far more terrified of.  

Going bald. 

Do a test – go up to the first grey guy you see with a full head of hair and ask him if he minds being grey.  I bet a million defunct hair follicles he’ll say ‘Hell nooo!  At least I’m not bald yet!’

My darling dad and darling husband are both challenged in this department.  They both lost their hair in their early 20s, and while I’m sure it was awful, both of them admit it helped them get to the I DONT CARE stage much quicker.  They both decided I AM BALD, THEREFORE I AM, shaved it off and haven’t had to worry about what happens on the top of their heads, besides hat choice, ever since.  Phew.  Much worse to have glorious hair until you are 50, then see it thinning, so I’m told.  I applaud bald men!  And there’s us just worrying about a few grey hairs – PAH!
So because I’m celebrating the honesty of the silver foxes and the bravery of our bare headed heroes, and because, at a resting level, I’ve got a bit of a cruel streak, we’re going to have a little look at some fellas who are SO INSECURE they have made some dreadful hair decisions in the name of youth and vanity.  Enjoy.

Elton.  This is a double whammy - hair transplant AND fake fawn colour.  Money does not buy you cool Elton.  Uh-huh! 

Nicolas Cage.  Ok, so the pressures of being a Hollywood badboy when you're old enough to be a grandad must be quite extreme, so let's cut him a bit of slack.  But Robert De Niro didn't succumb...

Martin Sheen. – I love him, and thank god, it does look as though the dear boy has put away the ginger dye.  Come on man!  You brought down Colonel Kurtz!


Al Pacino – looking a little like an old lady with a bouffant.

David Cameron – our unelected Prime Minister.  Don’t tell me being shackled to old Clegg nuts hasn’t brought on a few grey ones Dave!

Brad Pitt – it must be hard to let go Braddykins, especially when you have HER.  But you aren’t fooling any of us.  I can tell a mile off when hair has been even slightly meddled with.  The boy is conflicted. The beard says it all...

And just to slightly redress the balance.  Here is one of my heros -  from 80s/90s punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees, now producing weird, spooky and wonderful scores for films.  Still so rock 'n' roll despite the years and the because of the silver.  Steve Severin.  Love love love.

Men,  ignore the lads above and carry on JUST GETTING ON WITH IT!!

Steve Severin

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


It was only a matter of time.  I've been riding the wave of positive comments, compliments and encouragement for too long.  There had to be a flipside, and today I experienced it.

After dropping The Cheeky One off at school, I trundled round in the hail and rain to the local free government Children's Centre to take Captain Bibble (boy number 3) to the play group.  I was greeted by a friendly worker who asked if he had been before.  I told her he regularly comes to the centre with his childminder but she didn't know him.  The nice lady brought a clip board and registration form back and said, 'So he's here with Granny today then?'.

And there you have it.  Granny.  I mean WTF???!!!!!  I told her I was, in fact, his mum and I saw her quickly do a visual reassessment of my body, clothes, face finally looking, frowning in fact, at my hair.

'Um, it wasn't me that said that!'  She lied in a high pitched voice, 'it was one of them!'  Waving her arm behind her vaguely at the group of snaggle toothed chavs in similar red tabards hanging about by the office.

'Is it my grey hair?' I asked, remaining fairly calm, kind of enjoying the squirming embarrassment of the woman.
'Hahahaha,' she laughed, 'I just re-dyed mine this morning!  Hahaha,  it's meant to be blonde.  Hahahaha'
I walked away.

She then proceeded to follow me for an hour being VERY NICE and asking lots of questions about me and my family.  I didn't really talk back.  I took the time to look around the room.  There were two other silver haired women there, probably 20 years older than me, and half the women there were probably my age or 5 years younger.  The rest were all very young mums in their early 20s.  

It made me realise that my cohort of mums, my contemporaries have all had our children relatively late.  And for those of us who, shall we say, have a happy accident after we thought we were done, that last child does indeed make us an older mum.  But I'd got used to the other mums I met a the school gate being my age or just a little younger, especially those with several children.

Does having grey hair REALLY make that much difference to people's perception?  Well, yes, apparently it does.  Bar the sick pleasure I got from making this slightly blundering lady feel uncomfortable, I spent that hour feeling very uncomfortable myself.  What have I done?  I thought.  Why would anyone want to be instantly categorised as a 'granny' when they are only 42?  I'm still mulling it over now.  

But hang on a minute!  I could very well be a granny.  I could quite conceivably be a grandmother.  I could have a daughter or son of 22 who has a child of 2.  To be honest, there are some places round here where I could quite easily be a great-grandmother at 42 but that's another story...

I spent the rest of the time there talking with a fellow professional mum (not grey) about the usual work/life pressures which made me quite forget the incident until the end of the session.  The centre manager brought a 'quick questionnaire' over for us to fill out.

'It'll only take a minute - there's not too much personal information for you to fill out.'  She smiled.

The third question was 'how old are you?'.

My friend balked, 'Oh god!  Do we have to say?'
'Sorry', smiled the centre manager.
I smiled back. 'One of your staff referred to me as a 'granny' earlier.'
'Oh I'm so sorry!  I mean, well, you don't look like a granny!  And it wasn't me!'
I continued to smile.

As I left, she shimmied over.  'I'm sorry someone upset you.'
'I really don't care.  It's fine.'
'That's the spirit, rise above it!'  She said waving us off cheerily.

Yup, rising above it.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Pass the Baton

Today was momentous.  Today I cut the final 3mm of yellowy blonde from my fringe.  I have fully transitioned into a proper grey haired lady.  It took 8 very difficult months. I was sort of expecting to feel jubilant but it's all rather scary.  I'm on The Other Side...

However, something has shifted.  I have PASSED THE BATON.  

What do I mean by that?  I mean I'm not playing the game anymore.  I have passed the baton to fertile women 20 years younger than me.  I have passed the baton to any woman who can still be bothered to dye their hair to try and look younger.  I have passed the baton of effort and I've settled for, well, just me.  And that is a huge relief.

I realise now that I've been in a bit of a 'let myself go' thing - not exercising like I normally do, not eating as healthily, inevitably putting on weight whilst my shaved hair was growing out the new grey.  I literally wanted to be invisable.  If I could have hibernated in a little croft in the Scottish Highlands, I would have.

Well, I don't know if it's Spring, or if it's because I've reached the end of one journey and am beginning a whole new one, but suddenly I feel much more like I want to be visable and I want to look after myself again.   So I asked The Husband to take some shots of me with my fully grey hair.

And I feel sort of ok about it....

One rather disturbing new discovery this week though.  I have been checked out by men again. No, not men in their 30s, or even 40s.  But men in their 50s and 60s AND BEYOND.  Who knew????!!!!!  It's a bit like having your dad or a teacher eyeing you up.  It doesn't help that my father in law is only 52....yeah, you work that one out.  

So yes, be warned if you transition not only do you pass the baton, you are also very clearly wearing a massive flashing grey neon sign that says: 


It's taking some adjustment but it's all part of me accepting that I'm not a young woman anymore, which is precisely why I've done this.  I've only got myself to blame!